How to overcome the dilemma of Selling

You know you need to increase sales but you resist “selling’, because selling is pushy or whatever; you have a somewhat adverse view of ‘salesmen.  But without sales you don’t have a business.

What a dilemma!

In my last blog I pointed out the obvious, sales is the last step in the marketing process; a process which starts with an enquiry and ends with dollars.  That step must be successfully achieved despite any adverse view of the process.

I also pointed out that salesmanship is a skill, a skill which can be developed.  It is not about pressure on the prospect.  It is about educating the customer.

So how you can develop those skills, how you can get to “yes” without being “hypie” or pushy.  It’s about your “sales conversation”.

A sales conversation is the conversation that you have with your client that starts with their enquiry and gets them to ‘yes’ without any of those attributes that give you a fear of selling.

For some reason when good-hearted, intelligent & talented people start a sales conversation they suddenly morph into blathering idiots, and you certainly don’t want to be that.
Noted sales expert Jill Konrath author of “Selling to Big Business” quotes examples such as Winging It, Diarrhoea of the Mouth, Inadequate Knowledge, Product/Service Dumper, and Too Much Too Quick.

Your sales conversation needs to give the prospective customer every sensible reason to buy, answer their obvious questions, and overcome all reasonable objections, or you'll lose the sale.

Sales are lost because the salesman didn’t find out what could make a difference to the prospective customer, what motivated him (or her), what the outcome meant to the customer in dollar/emotional/value terms before presenting their “solution”. 

People do not buy your products and services.  They buy what these are going to do for them.  To use a simple analogy they don’t buy a spanner because they want a spanner.  They want to tighten a bolt, and the spanner is one way of doing that. 

If your sales conversation ends up being just about the spanner or its price, you have lost control of the discussion.  Your need the conversation to focus on the value of what the product will do for them, how it will make a difference.

You can have the best sales message in the world, but your prospects will always understand it through the prism of their own emotions, preconceptions, prejudices, and pre-existing beliefs – not yours.  Your conversation must give the prospective customer every reason why they should buy:
•    Why your product or service is the solution to their pain/problem;
•    Why your product provides a better outcome than the competitions;
•    Why they should believe you, e.g. proof or testimonials;
•    Why they should act today.

How do you develop good sales skills?

In a blog some time ago “Slow down to increase sales”  I gave some tips on this such as listening, not offering a solution until you have understood the problem, cutting the verbiage, and keeping it simple.  But there are some other things to take into account.

It is obviously important to know who is your ideal prospect, and their issues.  That gives you the opportunity to educate.  After all, people love to buy but they hate to be sold something.  They will make a decision to buy when they have the proper information.  Part of the sales skill is to make sure they get the information they need.

You get that information by listening to the customer and asking the right questions.  Listening provides the opportunity to develop a relationship, and relationships are fundamental to gaining and keeping customers.  A little empathy goes a long way.

Listening and empathy are all personal skills, so there are personal skills that you need to develop.  And these need to be backed by a few other tools, tools such as product knowledge and the information you need to educate. 

Now if you, as the owner are indeed doing the selling there is a fair chance that you will have the product knowledge.  After all, you are operating in your area of expertise.  But keeping up to date is important to maintain your edge.

Depending on your business you may need brochures or product leaflets to hand out, or product samples.  Something the prospect can take away and deliberate over.  So having adequate supplies of good quality sales materials is important.  In some circumstances you might a trial.  Let them get their hands on your product.

What about your ability to deliver, to deliver on time, to the quality promised; your ability to meet the customer’s expectations.  Exceed those expectations, and they become a raving fan.  Knowledge that you can deliver as promised will give you confidence in the sales conversation.

You will of course have armed yourself with a few testimonials; proof of what you promise is true.  And by listening you will have found out a little about the prospect and their area of interest, and hopefully you will have a relevant testimonial to bring out.  That not only helps in the proof area, it also builds the relationship.  We talk to the same people!

There is one more essential skill that you, as chief salesman for your business, need to do.  And just to give you a clue, it’s probably something you were required to do when you were doing your apprenticeship or however you learnt your trade.  It’s also something that good sports men and women do.  And that is PRACTICE.  Sports people practice all the time, repetitively and I bet you had to also.

So why don’t you practice the skills that get the customer to take out their Order Book or credit card?

Far from being a necessary evil, salesmanship is a necessary skill.

Would you like to discuss your approach personally with me?  Book a Strategy Consult here.

© Copyright 2015 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 

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