Sales is for everyone! As it turns out, several researchers have discredited the theory that selling is a natural born talent or that we should leave it the extroverts. So if you are an introvert planning to enter this exciting field or, if like me, you hail from a sales environment, you would be seeking innovative ways to increase those figures!
Sales and Marketing is ever evolving. Today, accelerating technology and globalization is increasing customer choices daily. That said, there will always be a place for Direct Sales if you want to achieve complete buyer engagement. But problems are many and against the backdrop of a crowded marketplace, you will need to bring your A game if you want to come out on top!
A study conducted by Harvard Business Review on what makes long term successful companies sustainable found that the number 1 common feature between them is this: They sell value over price. What value do you provide to your client? Most sales people will answer with their product in mind – which is not a shocking revelation. The activity of sales has always focused on the product. But that was before the profession became saturated with competitors all wanting a piece of the pie. Some selling replacement products, cheaper products, even your product. Pause for a moment and consider what your personal value is. What are you able to provide that others cannot? Perhaps it is excellent after-sales service or superior expertise in your industry – unlock your individual value and break free from the rest of the pack!
I have never appealed to the phrase, ‘closing a deal’ due to the finality associated with it. I’m certain it does not resonate with your clients as well – nobody wants to be known as a ‘closed sale!’ Sales people who use this phrase often treat the method as it suggests: ending a process and moving on. Starting today, concentrate on starting a relationship, rather than closing a deal. This is the approach that builds customer loyalty.
Fine tune your sales process with these steps and become a LEADER in selling:
L – LISTEN. The only talking you should do is introducing yourself and then turn your attention to the customer. Maintain eye contact. Write notes (if relevant to the type of sale). After the client has spoken, summarize the content and repeat it to the client (in your own words) which means you were attentive during the conversation.
E – EMPATHISE. Find common ground and establish a rapport. Share your own experiences that are similar to those of the client. Be open and let the customer feel comfortable to reciprocate. When someone shares a personal experience with you, it’s a positive sign that they trust you and people choose to do business with those they trust.
A – ASK QUESTIONS. Probing provides you with more insight into the person you are dealing with and besides, not everyone shares information openly – some need a little nudge. People make emotional and instinctive purchases. If you ask questions about themselves, they will like you. And if they like you, they will buy! Sincerity is foremost here. ‘Counterfeit caring’ and indifference is the quickest way to lose a customer!
D – DEFINE CUSTOMER’S NEEDS. Clients will rarely deliver this to you on a platter. You will have to tap into the conversation and retrieve it. This is why we got more acquainted in the preceding stages. If he has a demanding job, his need is relaxation. High standard of living requires extra savings for future. A sporty lifestyle needs a corresponding vehicle. You get the drift….
Notice that in LEAD stages, your product is yet to be introduced. As you know, everything in life needs a strong foundation and the sales sequence is no different. It is only at this point that your product should feature.
E – EQUATE PRODUCT WITH NEEDS. In this planning stage, discover the connection between the client’s need and your product. Produce as many connections as you can. As an example, if you are selling outdoor equipment to a parent, you might equate outdoor activities with kid’s activities while keeping fit at the same time (if he had mentioned his lack of a healthy lifestyle in your conversation).
R – RECOMMENDATION. The power of influence and persuasion is a skill few of us possess. But in saying that, following steps 1-5 will rapidly turn you into a sales LEADER with very little persuading required. A client will automatically see the value of your product in relation to their needs. All that’s needed now is to communicate your recommendation in a clear, concise, no-jargon and no-cliché manner.
Speak to their story, not yours. People ultimately want to hear an answer to, ‘What’s in it for me?’ Sales people often make the mistake of selling features without benefits. If you are in life insurance, don’t say we have a special feature embedded in the product that covers a parent for free. It is only when you include the customer in the equation that he can envision himself in the story. Here’s what you say instead: ‘If your parent should regrettably become ill, this product will take care of him/her financially.’ Now your customer is an active participant! Enlighten them on how your product will fulfil their needs while enjoying the value that only you can provide. Turn a good deal into a great find!
It is worth noting that a total trust and passion for your product is a game changer. Would you buy your product? Would you sell it to your mother? If the price were to increase tomorrow, would you still buy it? If you are passionate about your product, you will never have to say it. People will sense it in your voice.
Sales is at the heart of commerce. It is the activity that funds all other business activities. If sales determines your livelihood, I hope I have helped you cultivate a different lens through which to view the process.
Don’t just sell, become a LEADER!