Give Yourself and Your Staff a Refresher on Sales 101
The selling process is a system that can be taught, developed and continuously improved upon. When you follow clear, step-by-step actions and have a working knowledge of your product or service and the person who will be buying from you, the system will nearly always result in a sale.
Going back to the basics is always a worthwhile exercise. No matter how experienced you may be, there is always something new to discover or remind yourself of.
Involve your team in this E-Class as you work through the step-by-step process, and consider this an opportunity for additional team training and development. You may also want to begin giving each staff member individual sales targets, and incentives for reaching them.
In this post we will cover:
Here is a basic seven-step process that you can follow, or fine tune to suit your unique products and services.
This system will work for every business in every industry, from sales presentations to casual conversations in retail stores. Focus on cultivating your ability to master each step, as every one builds on the first and is important in the overall process.
1. Prepare yourself with enough knowledge about your product, customer, and industry.
Preparation is essential - for sales presentations, meetings or the sales floor - and it is the only part of the process you have complete control over. In addition to knowledge preparation, make sure that you, your place of business and your merchandise appears clean, well put together and professional. First impressions are everything, so do everything you can to support and prepare for your success, and it will pay off in closed sales.
Know your product or service. Continuously build your product or service knowledge, and make sure you understand what you're selling inside and out. This includes a knowledge of complementary products and services that you can offer as an up-sell, down-sell or cross-sell.
Know your customer. Review what you learned about your target market, or do some research on the company or person you'll be presenting to. Establish points of common ground and learn a bit about what they're interested in to build meaningful relationships.
Know your industry. Stay current on new developments and trends in your line of work or industry. Sharing this information at relevant points in the sales process will position you as an expert and build your credibility.
2. Begin to build a long-term relationship based on trust.
The first few moments of interaction with a prospect will set the stage for the rest of your conversation. Focus on casual conversation that will relax your prospect, and begin to develop a relationship. Bring up points of mutual interest and understanding, and begin to establish your credibility.
Shake hands firmly, make eye contact, and introduce yourself
Open with easy questions and small talk
Show a genuine interest in their lives and needs
Find common ground and points of mutual interest
Be confident and professional, but also personable
Use mirroring (mimic their body language and behavior) to ease the prospect
3. Discuss the problem, need, want or desire in detail.
Now that you've begun to build a relationship with your prospect, you can start to ask open-ended questions to establish what their needs and wants are. You could ask them what brought them into the store, or why they are looking for a particular product or service.
Once you are clear on what they are looking for, ask more open-ended questions to gain a better understanding of the features, price range, and complementary items that would be suit their objectives.
Listen to their statements, and repeat back what they've said to show you understand
Ask questions to clarify their statements, and to show you are listening
Ask open-ended questions to keep them talking. Learn as much as you can about their needs and unique purchase motivations.
If you are sure the customer will make the purchase, as specific questions about size, color, and price range.
4. Offer the solution and focus on benefits.
When you have a good understanding of what your prospects needs and wants are, begin to offer the appropriate product or service.
Start with an explanation of how your product or service will deliver the results your prospect is looking for, or solve their specific problem
Paint a picture of your prospect after the purchase using hypothetical examples
Offer the mid-range product, and up-sell or down-sell as appropriate
Use anecdotes about other customers who had positive experiences with the same product, or showcase the awards or accolades the product or service has earned
Focus on benefits, and support with features and advantages
Take cues from your prospect's body language, and ask qualifying questions as the need arises
Give the customer an opportunity to ask you questions or provide feedback about each product or service after you have described or explained it.
Ask closed-ended questions (yes or no answers) to gain agreement as you discuss the product or service
5. Anticipate, then overcome objections with empathy.
While you are presenting your product or service, be aware of body language and the questions that your prospect is raising and use them as clues to potential objections. Try to anticipate objections, and then address them by asking open-ended questions (What do you think about...? What is important to you in...?) Objections will arise, so do your best to prepare for them.
When an objection arises:
Repeat the issue back to the prospect to show you have heard what they said, and to ensure you understand them correctly.
Empathize or show that you can relate to what they said, and then provide a response that resolves their concern.
Repeat yourself to confirm that you have overcome their objection.
If your response hasn't solved their objection, repeat the process.
The eight most common objections:
This doesn't seem valuable to me.
I'm going to wait since there's no reason to buy now.
It's best to think about it before I really decide.
I don't have enough money.
Someone else offers a better product and / or at a better price.
I usually buy from another business.
I don't have the authority to make the purchase.
I can't get all parties to agree on the purchase.
Create a master objections list.
Work with your staff to create a master objections list for your products and services, and brainstorm ways to overcome each of them. Take this time to consider all the objections your customers raise about each product, and the way you have handled these objections in the past. What worked? What didn't?
Keep this list in a master binder or post it in staff areas so everyone involved in the sales process can continually contribute to and improve on it.
6. Close with confidence and awareness.
This is a crucial part of the sales process, and the step that most people have difficulty with because it's all about timing. You have to cultivate an ability to sense the appropriate time to ask for the sale. This can't be scripted; it has to happen in the moment when the customer's objections have been overcome, and when you feel they are ready to seal the deal.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before you attempt to close the sale:
Has the prospect agreed that there is value in the offering?
Does the prospect fully understand the benefits of the offering?
Does the prospect have any more objections or questions?
Are there any other factors could influence the purchase decision?
Does the prospect have a reason to buy now? (urgency)
Does the prospect have a reason to feel secure in the purchase? (risk reversal)
When you feel it is an appropriate time to ask for the sale, consider using some of these statements to get the transaction completed:
Are you ready to get started?
I can have the product delivered as early as [date], would that work for you?
Should I grab you a new one from the back?
If you just give me your credit card, I can take care of the transaction while you continue browsing.
We can begin next month if we receive payment by the end of the week.
So, I will send over the draft contract tomorrow.
7. Make that customer a part of your customer retention program, and don't forget to follow up.
When you've completed the sale, make sure to get your customer's contact information and set up a follow-up schedule. Your goal is to establish a long-term relationship to help cultivate loyal, repeat and referral business.
Once a customer is in your database, you'll be able to keep in touch on a regular basis with newsletters and special promotions, and you'll be able to track their purchase behaviors. You may wish to follow-up with them in a few days or a week to see how they're enjoying the product or service, and if they have any questions you could help them answer.
You should also be sure to ask satisfied customers to be part of your referral program, or if they would mind providing you with a testimonial. Be sure to do this as soon as possible after the sale.
Integrate up-selling, down-selling and cross-selling into your business.
Up-sell to increase the value of your sale.
Always test to see if your prospect would be inclined to purchase a slightly better or higher-priced product or service. Prospects looking for quality, cutting-edge, reliable and long-lasting products and services should be easily convinced to go with the better model.
Start by offering the mid-range product or service, and as you learn more about the customers needs and purchase motivators, offer the higher-priced product by explaining the benefits and advantages associated with it.
Cross-sell to boost your average dollar sale.
Cross-selling is the same as offering add-ons or packaging your products and services. You're trying to boost your average dollar sale by selling complementary products or services in conjunction with each other.
Cross-selling is rooted in good customer service and the desire to make sure the customer has the most positive experience with the product or service as possible. For example, you would offer ink cartridges and computer paper with printers, or ties with suit shirts.
Down-sell to avoid losing the sale.
Use this technique when you are certain your prospect can't afford the most expensive product, but you don't want to lose the sale.
Start by showing each prospect the highest-priced product, so when you offer a similar, lower-priced item it will seem much cheaper. Make it seem as though there is very little difference between the two items. If you don't have a lower-priced item to offer, consider offering something else altogether to save the sale.
What makes a strong salesperson?
Once you have a solid understanding of the sales process, the rest is up to you! Every person will have a different sales style, but effective salespeople have a number of common qualities.
Here is a list of many of the attributes of good salespeople. Think about how you can cultivate and strengthen these qualities in yourself and in your team.
Always learning and improving sales skills and techniques
Relates to customers in a sincere way, while providing solutions to their needs or problems
Communicates professionally, in a polite and direct manner
Understands the big picture of the company, and his or her role within it
Develops lasting relationships with customers and colleagues
Builds trust quickly
Maintains a positive and enthusiastic outlook
Asks good questions
Quickly interprets, analyzes and responds to information
Presents his or herself professionally
Respects other team members, customers and the competition
Effectively manages time
Eight ways to streamline your sales process.
Build long-term relationships. Treat each potential customer like they are about to become one of your best, most loyal clients. Be genuinely interested in what each customer has to say, ask questions and remember everything.
Position yourself as an expert. Know more than you need to about the product or service you're selling and you will build trust and respect with your prospects. Build your knowledge of your product or service, the people who use it, as well as industry news and trends.
Be confident and convincing. Assume you have the sale from the beginning, and leave any self-criticism at the door. Take time to explain yourself, don't rush, and connect your message to your audience in a meaningful way.
Prepare your image. Ensure that everything your prospect sees is professional and put together. Dress in a manner that reflects what you're selling and is comfortable for your audience. For example, a suit and tie is professional, but jeans may be a more appropriate choice for your market.
Use common language. While you should show your prospect that you know what you're talking about, avoid using too much industry jargon or sales phrases like finance, sold, contract, sale, etc. Use language that your market understands and can relate to.
Stay positive. Be enthusiastic about your product or service benefits, and maintain a smile on the phone and in person. Your overall mood is apparent in your voice, facial expressions and body language, so ensure it's a positive one.
Remember your manners. This seems like a no brainer, but it's a helpful reminder. Be punctual, use a strong handshake, accept courtesy items, listen and don't interrupt.
Steer clear of hot topics. Avoid any discussion of religion, politics, sexual innuendos and racial comments. Don't swear, and steer clear of negative comments about other customers or the competition.
Sales is a system that can be created, improved, taught and perfected.
The important thing to remember here is that everyone needs to enhance and refine their sales skills on a regular basis. A routine review of sales 101 is helpful for even the most natural of salespeople.
Consider creating a poster of the sales process with tips under each step, and posting it in the staff room or on your staff communications board. Visual reminders and passive access to resources can have a lasting impact on your staff's performance.
In the next blog post we're going to continue focusing on conversions and look at how a risk reversal strategy can build trust and encourage prospects to make purchase decisions.
Looking forward to it!
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