Succeeding in sales is all about knowing what your potential customer wants. This means you need to have a more intimate understanding of their problem then they do. The truth is that they don’t want the product or service you are offering, they want what t product or service will do for them.
Another truth about consumer behavior is that customers don’t blindly make a purchase. The customer cycle is as follows: Know > Like > Trust >Trial > Buy > Repeat >Refer. Many sales funnels have been built around this concept so understanding it will help greatly.
So, how do you solve their problem and get them to trust you? Here is the big secret… build a relationship with your customers. All relationships are built on trust, including business relationships. If a potential customer knows you care nothing about them and only want to make a sale do you think they will buy from you? No, they will feel like they are being used and move to the next guy. If on the other hand you continually bail them out of a jam and direct them to the products they need regardless of what they ask for you will have a customer for life.
The more you give, the more you get. In working sales we would often direct customers to more efficient solutions even if the resulting sale was less than what the original bill of material would have been. The result? Next time the customer needed a part we were the first place they called. The pennies lost the first go around were gained 100 fold through repeat sales. This is a more holistic view that won’t produce fruit in a week but will most certainly create long term prosperity.
A sale is arguably an art and as such each person will have a different sales approach. Personally I am under the belief that quality long lasting solutions that take a while to produce are of more value than a fast solution with quick results. I like the idea of a stable customer base that comes back to you for repeat business time and time again.
Having zero relationship with a customer is the biggest road block to making a sale. Look at all of the MLM business models out there, who are everyone’s first customers? Their friends and family. Why? Because of a preexisting relationships.
Another component that plays strongly into making a sale is the competitive advantage of the product or service you are pushing. Knowing the factors of competitive advantage will allow you to understand why the potential customer is purchasing from the competition, it may have nothing to do with your sales approach. A good sales man or woman won’t do a thing if a product is too expensive, of low quality, or requires a long of a turnaround.
On the other side of the coin, if the product or service has an advantage in cost, quality, or lead that should be a crowing point of your sales approach. In an industry that constantly needs parts quickly a short lead time may be all that is needed to win someone over. Some industries may be more interested in price. It will be your job to understand where your target market is coming from and how you can help them out.
Make Money Not Sales
This may seem obvious but If you are fortunate enough to be in a position to negotiate the price of a good during a sale make sure you never sell at a loss. I have heard people say “what we are losing in markup we are making up in volume” WHAT? That doesn’t make any sense. If you can’t make money on selling one of something, how is it possible to make money selling 100 of that same item?
A good salesman will know when to say no and walk away. I remember a specific transaction in which a customer told me they could get the bill of material for 10% less then what we were offering. It would have been a $15,000.00 order so to win them over they were suggesting I take $1500.00 off the price. I politely told them that it sounded like they may have a better offer from the competition and that it would be wise to go that route. The order came in the next day. I don’t know if it was our lead that won them over or if they were simply lying to me, but in either case I was able to not lose $1500.00.
A popular phrase that is commonly used in sales is; “the fortune is in the follow up” I had a conversation with a friend of mine who sells cars and he was expressing his frustration with how lazy some sales man can be. He said the guys who consistently do well are the ones who take the time to follow up with perspective buyers. His frustration came from the perception of an additional step as additional work. Yeah you have to make another phone call but who cares, that phone call could seal the deal.
If someone has expressed interest in your product or service they have a need and even if they don’t buy they probably still have the need. Take the time to follow up with them and you will find yourself closing many more sales. Sales can be a lot of fun and can be extremely rewarding both monetarily and otherwise. If you guys have examples or additional insights you would like to share please do so.