Prepare – you, as a salesperson, must always prepare yourself for the day, for the customers, and for the sale. For some salespeople, preparation may entail understanding the products, pricing, and inventory that is available either from the company or in the location. For others, preparation may entail getting in the right mindset to meet with customers, obtaining competitors information, and setting new appointments. In any case, preparation is imperative to ensuring a smooth sales cycle.
Engage the Customer – if you are face-to-face with the customer, then engaging eye contact, using appropriate body language, and keeping the customer focused on the topic at hand is essential to engaging the customer in the sale. If you are selling a product or service over the phone, you must capture the customer’s attention with how you talk (i.e. tone of voice, how fast / slow you speak, etc.) and the customer must be interested in the product or service to stay attentive.
Establish a Relationship – everyone purchases from family and friends. The more the customer feels like he or she is a ‘friend’, the more likely he or she will purchase the product or service. My motto in sales has always been “Everyone is a VIP”. I treat every customer that comes in like a friend or family member. I don’t sell them something that I know they won’t like or want, and I don’t push products or services on them when it’s obvious they are not interested. Now, if I can gain their attention and interest, then I have a chance to sell more items to them.
Qualifying Questions – I have always promoted “Qualify your customer” – meaning that you should ask specific questions relating to the products / services you are selling to ensure that is what the customer needs or wants. For example, if the customer is purchasing a cell phone and seriously doesn’t use email, apps, or social networking sites (generally found in senior generations), then I am not going to sell that customer a smartphone. Instead, I will sell him or her a basic phone that I know he or she will be happier with.
Pitch the Product / Service – once you have asked the qualifying questions and gained an understanding of the needs and wants of the customer, it’s your turn to pitch your product or service to the customer. The pitch must not sound like it is memorized, it must be personalized, and it must be in line with what the customer has already told you. If these musts are not followed, then you will lose the sale. Starting out with something like “Based on what you’ve told me” or “It sounds like you could benefit from XYZ product / service” can make the all the difference in keeping your customers attention. If they see that you have really listened to them they will relax a bit more and really think about your recommendations. I also recommend offering a couple of alternatives to what you are trying to get the customer to purchase. This will give them the choice and make them feel more in control of the sales process.
Overcoming Objections – in any industry and in any type of sale you will ultimately come across at least one customer who has objections to your product / service. Most objections can be overcome by explaining the product in more detail (without confusing the customer), offering other alternatives, and showing the customer the value in the product / service. Ensure that you know as much as you can about the product / service so that you can answer the customers questions on the spot without having to come back to him or her with an answer. Sometimes you have to do this, but when this happens your chances of closing the sale are reduced.
Close the Sale – this is the difficult part for many salespeople. This definitely takes practice (unless you are a natural). Finding your best closing techniques may take a while, but keep trying. There are a couple that I use the most:
- The Assumptive Close – this is where I ‘assume’ that they are going to purchase. Generally, I just ask how they would like to pay, or I say “come on over to my office / desk and we’ll get the paperwork started for you”.
- The Alternate Choice Close – as I mentioned before, giving your customer alternate options can in the sales process, but it can also help in the closing of the sale process. Typically, I would say something like “So, should we get you started with [product / service], or [second product / service]”. Once they’ve chosen which option they like best then you have closed the sale.
When you pitch a product or service to a customer do you have a sales pitch memorized, or do you sound natural? If you’re not sure, try it on a friend or relative and see what they tell you.