Selling is the major activity that all our businesses depend on, from the smallest one-person start-up to the largest conglomerate. There are three basic ways that goods (products and services) are sold at present:
- When there is little choice or little competition, the customer can only buy what is offered to them by the village shop, the internal stores or the mobile delivery van.
- When we sell high-volume commodities – such as baked beans or CDs – we offer the customers a self-service approach. This allows the customers to scan the mail catalogue, supermarket shelves or ecommerce web page to pick what they want to put in their basket. When they have finished making their selections, they pay for their basket of goods.
- For competitive, low-volume sales, we take a more active style to that we get the sale (rather than our competitors).
Skills of Active Selling
There are seven skills to being an effective sales person:
1 Product knowledge
You need to learn about your products and services, so that you are well prepared. You need to understand:
- What are they?
- What benefits might they offer?
- How are they priced? and
- What delivery can you offer?
Without this knowledge, you will mis-lead your customers by offering something you cannot deliver.
You need to learn how to identify your prospective customers. You need to understand how to qualify:
- Whose needs you can satisfy?
- Who can afford your product or service?
- Where are you likely to find them?
- When is the best time for them to buy?
- How can you help customers find you?
As a rule of thumb, 1% of cold approaches will result in a sale whereas 30% of qualified and warm prospects will listen to your approach and buy from you.
3. The Approach
Customers generally buy from people they like. So a major part of selling well it to show how interested you are in the issues that interest your prospect.
Beyond showing that you are concerned that your customer gets the benefits they want, you must also show you are efficient in using their time and professional in what you claim for your goods.
4. Establish the Need
To make your sale, you need to find out if the prospect wants to buy your goods:
- Ask them open questions about: what need they want to solve, what benefits they are seeking, how quickly they want to buy and how they want to pay.
- Listen actively to what your customer says.
- Summarise what you hear the prospect needs and
- Regularly check what you understand the prospect has said.
As you become clear about your prospect’s needs and desires, you are helping them to clear what value they want to pay for.
5. The Presentation
Practised sales people have a default order in which they present their goods. Being logical and orderly in the presentation enables you match each need that your prospect states. Then you can use your prospect’s reactions to pace and shape the presentation.
Where your prospect objects to aspects of the goods on offer, use this trigger to explore their needs in that area more fully so that they are properly convinced that what you offer is what they want.
6. Close the Sale
When your prospect has asked some detailed questions, ask for the order in a way that makes it easy for them to say “Yes”.
Watch your prospect closely for buying signals – such as nodding, reaching for their credit card, or picking up the goods. If any objections come up here, re-explore that area of their needs and then ask for the sale again.
7. Follow through
Once your prospect has agreed the sale, don’t stop there:
- Check that your customer is satisfied – and handle quality issues promptly.
- Where it is relevant to the goods, respond to maintenance requests.
- Ask your customer for referrals to their friends or relatives who have similar needs for your goods. o Look for repeat sales or future re-supply needs.
- Ask if there are related goods (on-sales) that your customer wants to buy at the same time.
- Try to build a relationship so that your customer will come back to you in future.
There are lots of sales training courses that can teach you these skills. Unfortunately there is a gap between hearing about a skill and knowing how to practice it. If this is new to you, why not find someone to coach you as you learn the skill of being an active sales person?