By Winning Pitch, February 27, 2015
Making sales is the biggest challenge facing most start-up businesses (and can be problematic for many existing businesses too). Luckily, there are several ways to boost your success rate when it’s just you and the customer. Whatever you are selling – from a mobile phone to a meal – the basic approach is the same.
1. Right on target
Your market research and understanding of your target customer plays a crucial part in successful selling. Before you contact a potential customer (a prospect), run down a list of key questions, examples below:-
- Does this person or company need my product or service?
- Why does this customer need it?
- What specific benefits will it provide?
etc … In a big company, do not waste energy selling to juniors with no budget authority. Try to get in front of someone with the power to take decisions and place orders. Preparation pays off. You will never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
2. What are you trying to do?
Work out the result you want from every conversation with a prospect. Even if you get a rejection, keep building up your information on each prospect. It will help you next time.
3. Reach the decision-maker
To close a sale you need to talk to the people who make purchasing decisions. You may not be able to talk directly to these decision-makers at the first attempt. But if you treat your initial contact correctly, you can raise your chances of speaking with the right person.
4. Creating interest
When you open a sale, establish right away that you are not wasting the prospect’s time. It helps to start by asking a series of questions which can only be answered ‘Yes’. This creates a positive momentum and helps you involve the prospect while progressing to the next thing you want to say.
5. Do they need your product?
Compare these two statements, with different approaches to selling:
- Salesman 1: ‘This PC has a lot of RAM. I recommend it.’
- Salesman 2: ‘This PC has enough memory for you to handle word processing and the management accounts. It’s just what you need.’
- Salesman 1 is selling the product. His sales pitch will be the same for every customer he talks to.
- Salesman 2 has found out the prospect’s needs, so he can then sell the benefits of his product. He will sell many more PCs than Salesman 1.
6. Sell the benefits
Once you know what the prospect is looking for, you can offer the solution – your product. If a prospect is interested but undecided, remove any remaining doubts by explaining why your product is ideal. Sell the benefits, not the features. Or as the marketing saying goes: ‘Sell the sizzle, not the steak’.
7. Objections to the sale
You should welcome objections as a sign the prospect is taking you seriously. When an objection is raised, listen carefully to exactly what is said. You will soon come to recognise the common problem areas.
8. Handling objections
Isolate and test the objection by asking if the prospect has any other concerns about your product. Then deal with it. Acknowledge the validity of the prospect’s concern: ‘You’re right to ask about the quality’. Tackle the objection directly and from the customer’s perspective.
9. Closing the sale
It is amazing how often a business person walks away from a prospect, after considerable time and effort, without asking for the sale. Don’t expect your customer to do the work of closing the sale for you. Once you realise the prospect is ready to buy, stop selling.
10. The three types of benefit
- Standard benefits are provided by both you and your competitors. If you only supply standard benefits, try to build some differential ones into your offer.
- Differential benefits set your product or service apart from those of your competitors. These benefits are the key to success, giving customers a concrete reason to buy from you.
- Company benefits are those a customer gains by dealing with your company. For example, if you offer a loyalty scheme or “frequent-user” discount. Company benefits are useful if you do not offer differential benefits.