The sales process should be a win-win situation and it is the duty of the salesperson to demonstrate the value that the offer provides. The basis of my sales approach is that all buyers are selfish and with good reason; they are constantly asking themselves “What does this do for me?” “How does it make my life better?” “Is this a necessity?”. It is the role of the salesperson to answer these questions without the buyer ever needing to ask them out loud.
As a part of my series about how to be great at closing sales without seeming pushy, obnoxious, or salesy, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amanosi Adeniyi.
Amanosi Adeniyi is the CEO & founder of Amanosi LLC, a boutique strategic advisory and business consulting firm, serving cutting-edge strategies for entrepreneurs to build profitable empires. She is passionate about women’s wealth and uses her role to support women entrepreneurs as they build financial fortresses through their online businesses.
Amanosi took the leap into full-time entrepreneurship when she ditched her B.Sc. in Microbiology for a career in business and worked as a B2B sales executive for a multinational corporation, where she managed business accounts for franchises of fortune 500 brands. Amanosi’s insights has been shared on Medium, Thrive Global, CEO Blog nation etc.
Thank you for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this career path?
Iwas raised by my grandparents who were both traditional academics, I grew up believing I would end up a scientist and used to be the person who would boldly say “ I hate selling, I hate to have to convince someone to buy what I’m selling.” I never saw myself becoming an entrepreneur because my fundamental understanding of sales was “needy” “pushy” and “annoying” but I sort of stumbled into entrepreneurship when I decided to start a model training agency after a few years as a model myself, I used my knowledge and experience as a model to help upcoming models understand the basics of catwalk & photoshoot. As I continued to grow that business, I realized that every time I signed on a new model, I had successfully sold my services. That was the ha-ha moment I needed to understand that sales can be easy and effortless.
I became a big enthusiast of business and entrepreneurship going forward, that even after earning a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology, I ditched that career path for a job in B2B sales for a multinational corporation and got the opportunity to interact with top level executives, be in the room when huge deals closed and really had first-hand knowledge of how to close sales with very sophisticated approaches that was previously unfamiliar to me. I thrive in fast paced and rapidly changing environment and my job in sales served me just that and inspired me to pursue my dreams of building my own empire knowing that sales could be effortless and very sophisticated if done authentically.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occured to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
When I decided to start Amanosi LLC, someone had said something that stuck with me and that was the assumption that the caliber of clients I planned to work with, may not be so open to working with me and paying my fees because although English is the only language I’m fluent in, I didn’t have a typical American accent. Initially, this held me back from using my voice and sharing my message like I wanted to. After several satisfied paying clients, I realized there was no basis for my assumption. Whenever I look back, I have to chuckle because had I allowed myself to remain censored because of a very false assumption, I would have stalled my success.
Impostor syndrome is real and I frequently see it play out in different variations even among the women entrepreneurs I work with. Somehow, brilliant powerhouse women pick up a false narrative and unconsciously adapt it like it’s real, when it’s only just holding them back. My personal experience with this helps me quickly identify it when I hear women discuss their “limitations” and, the main lesson I took away from it formed one of my core message pillars which encourages women entrepreneur to never be afraid to take up space, speak their truth and own it.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes, I am always involved in some form of exciting project and currently I must confess I have my hands full. There’s a book on the horizon and I’m finishing up the first manuscript soon, there’s a podcast fully planned and just in the pipeline ready for production. I also have a secret and very exciting project that I will share more on towards the end of the year. Just like everything I represent, my projects focus on providing strategies, tools and support for entrepreneurs to grow profitable businesses.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I have had a handful of mentors & colleagues who have helped me on the journey to becoming the woman I am becoming, from women who briefly crossed my path and said a word of encouragement, to those who are actively looking out for me, I appreciate them all. The ones who I serve and the ones who help me serve them equally have been instrumental in my success thus far, and I couldn’t name them all if I had all day, but if I had to mention one person who I believe has been a very consistent & reliable part of my success story, it would have to be my spouse. No support is like the support closest to you especially on the days you’re too sick to show up for your clients and community.
My spouse has gone beyond my expectation to ensure I have the much-needed support and accountability to carry on with my dreams and ambitions. Back when we had just gotten married, I lightly suggested to him that maybe he could go take a few photography classes because been a model in my not so distant life, I was used to photoshoots and demonstrating my creativity that way, he took me up on it and got very serious with photography and videography, today he is Amanosi LLC’s designated media person and because he is constantly evolving his new found hobby, every photoshoot is a challenge for my creativity and like I mentioned, I thrive in rapidly evolving environments. That’s just one of the many ways he inspires and empowers me to keep shining.
For the benefit of our readers, can you tell us a bit why you are an authority on the topic of sales?
Like I shared in my backstory, very early in my career I served as a B2B sales executive for a multinational corporation, where I closed sales and managed business accounts for franchises of fortune 500 companies. That experience provided me the opportunity to quickly advance my sales skills and finesse my unique approach.
For the past 5 years working with small business owners teaching them my sales approach and seeing them go on to be better entrepreneurs, I try not to brag but many would consider me an authority on the topic of sales.
Let’s shift a bit to what is happening today in the broader world. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the COVID-19 pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty and loneliness. From your experience, what are a few ideas that we can use to effectively offer support to our families and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
I am all for protecting our mental and emotional wellbeing, and although everyone is taking the disruption differently, we are collectively feeling a certain degree of the impact.
The first thing I would advise is that you manage your emotions before helping others, you can’t pour from an empty glass. I personally choose to not allow myself feed off the mass hysteria and panic. I disconnect from the news as needed without burying my head in the sand & pretending it’s not there. I understand that I cannot make sound strategic decisions if my head is clouded with fear instead of facts and this is what I’d advise you do and encourage your loved ones to do as well.
Take care of your physical body, adhere to the health regulations, safeguard your wellbeing & know when it’s time to turn off the news or disconnect from social media. Find the little things to be grateful for, indulge in a guilty pleasure and most importantly, always have a plan. Life has always been uncertain; this is not the end of the world. We are in this together.
Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. As you know, nearly any business a person will enter, will involve some form of sales. At the same time, most people have never received any formal education about how to be effective at selling. Why do you think our education system teaches nearly every other arcane subject, but sales, one of the most useful and versalite topics, is totally ignored?
In my opinion, it boils down to the story I shared earlier; because many of us have been conditioned to believe sales is ugly, annoying and hard, it has become something to push to the side.
The belief is nobody wants to be sold to, and yet every single day, every single one of us consciously or unconsciously are looking to be sold to. Whether it’s a movie on Netflix that we’re looking to sell us on why we must watch it with a 60 seconds trailer or it’s the several brands of milk on the store’s shelf we’re analyzing for the one that makes the cut, we are all actively in a sales process.
And that’s where we need to change the narrative and teach sales as it is; it’s not just a transaction, sales is truly choosing to take a symbiotic relationship further, be it with the Netflix movie we decide to spend 2 hours on or the milk we take home with us or the product or service you know is going to meet a need your prospect has. Sales isn’t hard and sales isn’t ugly, sales is just service and deserves to be taught like it is.
This discussion, entitled, “How To Be Great At Sales Without Seeming Salesy”, is making an assumption that seeming salesy or pushy is something to be avoided. Do you agree with this assumption? Whether yes, or no, can you articulate why you feel the way you do?
I agree that seeming salesy or pushy is something to be avoided because when a sales process because uncomfortable for the prospect, the purpose of the process is already defeated. Sales should be a progressive conversation between a prospect and a provider, and this conversation is mainly just heading for a mutually benefiting relationship between both parties.
The sales process should be a win-win situation and it is the duty of the salesperson to demonstrate the value that the offer provides. The basis of my sales approach is that all buyers are selfish and with good reason; they are constantly asking themselves “What does this do for me?” “How does it make my life better?” “Is this a necessity?”. It is the role of the salesperson to answer these questions without the buyer ever needing to ask them out loud. If the benefits of an offer present like it can satisfy the desires of the buyer, very rarely would they consider the salesperson pushy. But when this vital step in the process is missed or not done correctly, the buyer is left with a gap waiting to be bridged and any further conversation that doesn’t do this would seem overly “salesy” or pushy.
Typically, a salesperson that would be considered “salesy” or pushy isn’t approaching the sales process with the benefit of the buyer in mind, they most likely are after the transaction without considering how it meets or fails to meet the desires of the buyer. These salespeople see the entire sales process as a transaction rather than a relationship, and because the buyer can sense this, they’d consider the process pushy and “salesy”.
The seven stages of a sales cycle are usually broken down to versions of Prospecting, Preparation, Approach, Presentation, Handling objections, Closing, and Follow-up. Which stage do you feel that you are best at? What is your unique approach, your “secret sauce”, to that particular skill? Can you explain or give a story?
My zone of genius is all about the approach & presentation.
I believe that all sales is psychological. Understanding the psychological profile of a prospect allows you to determine the best approach & presentation for that profile. Everyone is not going to have the same approach because our needs are different & sales is all about delivering and meeting a need.
Authentic sales is about meeting the prospect where they are and leading them on a journey to where they want to be while simultaneously removing all roadblocks along that journey. If you don’t know where a prospect wants to be, you can’t take them there. I’ll share a personal story as an example of how to and how to not approach & present a sale to a prospect.
A couple of years ago when we bought our home, a home security sales man approached us about having his company cover our home security, his approach started with “I’ve been in the neighborhood for 13 years” and he followed with him giving us false statistics of the crime rate in the area. Like clockwork at the end of every workday, he waylaid us in our driveway, with the same pitch without ever demonstrating the benefit of his home security system. It wasn’t long before we had to tell him point blank that we were not interested in securing our home.
We were a young couple and the most basic psychological evaluation from seeing us for even 2 minutes would have suggested that we would most likely had done thorough research on the house and neighborhood. It would also be easy to sell us on the primary thing smart home security companies sell, which is “Peace of Mind & security” but our salesman failed to do that and instead led with fear without addressing any benefit of using his product. No sale will happen if the product doesn’t satisfy a need or the buyer fails to see the value of the need.
Few months down the line, another smart home security salesman rang my doorbell ready to sell us his company’s software. In under 5 minutes he did his evaluation, made his presentation and It appealed to us. He sold the comfort of receiving our mailed packages via our phone regardless of where we were simply by pushing a button to talk to the mail person via the doorbell. I nodded my head in approval his entire pitch because he made it seem like a no brainer option. He sold us smart thermostat, sold us technology and innovation & in 30minutes that stranger was installing a new home security system that I didn’t know I would need 1-hour prior. I was especially impressed with how he handled underlying objections when he suspected I might want to object to security cameras and sensors “I know you’ll probably have a gun but you don’t even want to put yourself in a situation to use it, our security systems alert you when people come within certain radius of your home and shows you in real time. Our sensors trigger if anyone tries to break in through any window in the house & our system automatically calls the police. So even when you’re on vacation in another continent, you can be rest assured that your home security is at your fingertips.” In my head? I screamed “Say no more! Dopamine delivered.”
Both companies offered similar solutions but while one salesman sold me a dream I couldn’t say no to & closed the sale, the other failed to understand me or deliver a solution.
Lead generation, or prospecting, is one of the basic steps of the sales cycle. Obviously every industry will be different, but can you share some of the fundamental strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?
Yes, off course, especially in the online marketing space, a lot of service-based business owners are taught to bid for the cheapest possible lead in the marketplace. They’ve been told “create a checklist, a pdf, something for instant gratification. Let your lead take the least possible action.” and that’s how many businesses have ended up with thousands of very cheap leads that are a pain to convert.
I believe and teach the exact opposite; bid for the lead who is committed to taking the most action because this kind of lead is psychologically prepared for a solution to their problem. This is why many industries are experiencing high conversion rates for their hour-long trainings, weeklong trainings or even in-person events. It will make sense to also highlight here that it isn’t what you do but how you do it because many business owners still report poor results with even these tried and true strategies.
Target leads who are ready and committed to solving their challenges, not those looking for quick fixes, and with effective communication and powerful messaging, bridge the gap between where they are and where they want to be.
In my experience, I think the final stages of Handling Objections, Closing, and Follow-up, are the most difficult parts for many people. Why do you think ‘Handling Objections’ is so hard for people? What would you recommend for one to do, to be better at ‘Handling Objections’?
Objections seem hard for many salespeople because it’s hard to really hit the nail on the head when you don’t know where the head is. Objections will vary according to the prospect, the offer and what your evaluation of them tells you, but when the salesperson is unable to read and relate with the constraints a prospect might be dealing it, there’ll be an inevitable strain in the sales process.
Where someone may be saying they don’t think the offer is a good fit for them, what they might really mean could be “I don’t trust your promise & your reviews are a little unbelievable ” or “This offer is so basic, I want something more high level.” To be better at handling the right objection, the salesperson should study what the prospects is saying as much as what they aren’t saying to know where the problem really lies.
Ask probing questions to sincerely just understand where the customer is coming from, so you can handle the objections that arise but be careful to control your tone so that the prospect doesn’t feel interrogated. Remember that it’s a conversation. I would suggest you use words like “I understand what you’re saying” and then reiterate what they have just discussed before asking further clarifying questions. It is important that the prospect feels understood and this way you can better determine how to handle their objections.
Sales is science, science is art and an excellent salesperson should be skilled at co-mingling them both.
‘Closing’ is of course the proverbial Holy Grail. Can you suggest 5 things one can do to successfully close a sale without being perceived as pushy? If you can, please share a story or example, ideally from your experience, for each.
I believe that as a salesperson who has been studying the prospect throughout the sales conversation, you should be able to rightly ascertain if a prospect will close or not. When you suspect a prospect is on the verge of closing there are simple questions you can ask to help them lean for the close. It’s like the final lap of a race, you’re almost at the finish line a lean can make all the difference and here are 5 questions you can ask the prospect based on the leading conversations before deciding to let them off or close.
- What would you rather have that this offer doesn’t deliver? Many times, if there were something else, they’ll mention it, this also helps them do a mental run through of the benefits of your offer and often time, they’ll realize they were just resisting and make the decision to move forward. On the other hand, if they’re unable to find any loopholes and still choose not to move ahead, chances are they already decided they’re not going to do business with you and here it’s best to end the conversation.
- What would need to happen for this to be the right time? If the objection really has to do with finances they’ll tell you more, if it’s that they don’t feel mentally ready to commit to the work required, they’ll tell you their excuses, it’s your responsibility to then access if you can help them decide more conclusively by showing them how moving forward wouldn’t be a burden or, just let them go and follow up later.
- What can I do to reduce the financial risk or impact to you so you can commit? Many times, your prospect may wish you offered more lenient payment options to commit, or maybe you offered a certain degree of risk aversion or an extended deadline. Asking this question may encourage them to open up and level with you.
- Why is it that you believe my prices are too expensive? What offers are you measuring them up with? An excellent salesperson understands that competition exists, they also understand what options their prospects are weighing them against. It might be valuable insight to see where your offer has a loophole in the eyes of your prospect or where your offer remains unparalleled and sell yourself there.
- Are there any other questions I can answer for you today? A good salesperson understands that everyone will not be a good fit. It is your responsibility to determine when a prospect is not going to be a good fit & politely end the conversation or close the process.
A good sales process is research; understanding your clients, understanding yourself and understanding your offer. Even if all you get from a sales process is a good example of the kind of client you do not want to serve, there’s always a win.
Finally, what are your thoughts about ‘Follow up’? Many businesses get leads who might be interested but things never seem to close. What are some good tips for a business leader to successfully follow up and bring things to a conclusion, without appearing overly pushy or overeager?
All things considered, it is really easy for people to quickly feel overwhelmed with information nowadays. Over the years, I have noticed that the results from the conventional ways of follow up started to dwindle. What I find to be most effective now is what is called retargeting in digital advertising. You can remain top of mind with prospects by targeting them with specific content. Maybe it’s a podcast that you were recently featured on, that provides valuable insights or a new blog post or possibly a new offer that may interest them. Retargeting is a relatively effortless and yet highly effective way to remind your prospects of your value and invite them to continue the business relationship without being hands-on, 100% of the time.
As you know there are so many modes of communication today. For example, In-person, phone calls, video calls, emails, and text messages. In your opinion, which of these communication methods should be avoided when attempting to close a sale or follow up? Which are the best ones? Can you explain or give a story?
I do not believe there’s the ultimate pass or fail communication channel for closing the sale because, it isn’t always the “what” but the “how” that often determines the outcome. I have seen many cases where different people do very well with the different options that are available today. I would suggest picking a method that works with your business model and aligns with your processes and testing it out.
Be open to change and improvement so you can evolve with the marketplace.
Ok, we are nearly done. Here is our final “meaty” question. You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Excellent question! This would be a movement I am truly passionate about and also happens to be the core mission of my brand; financial independence for women. For the longest we have believed that women are less knowledgeable than men when it comes to finances, investments & wealth building. Now more than ever in our history, women are stepping up and taking charge of their finances and becoming breadwinners, CEOs of thriving brands & unicorns. I live for this and will throw my weight behind any cause that helps women take up more space.
How can our readers follow you online?
The links to connect with me across all my social media channels can be found on my website Amanosi.com
Thank you for the interview. We wish you only continued success!
Thank you, it was a pleasure.