This post’s acronym is SALES which to some people is the lifeblood of any business. To me there are many parts that are essential to run a successful business and sales is certainly one of the main arteries.
Selling successfully is very easy to do and yet so many people hate doing it. In our society we seem to have bought into the corporate competition view of selling – a cut-throat business, a dog-eat-dog environment where phrases like “he’d sell his Granny if it meant getting to the top” abound. The result is that if you are not naturally a highly motivated extrovert who loves the type of challenge of convincing someone they need what you are selling you can often feel like a failure. To me successful sales occur when you have met and overcome all the concerns of the prospective buyer, having first listened to all their needs and wants. That is a learnt skill, a very easy one to learn too.
Awareness of your clients is so very important. How often have you gone into a shop and been accosted by the eager sales assistant with another few following close behind? Then they’ve fawned all over you in their eagerness to make that sale, and told you all the benefits of their product or service, while ignoring what you are actually saying to them? Or gone into a shop and been completely ignored by all the sales assistants while they wait for you to approach them for fear of seeming overly pushy? Both scenarios are very familiar, however there is a happy medium and a good sales person is aware of body language, good at picking up visual signals and responding to them. They are also good at noticing small changes in customers behaviour while interacting with them and dealing with those changes is a positive way. A bad sales person simply ignores them – to their cost.
Listening is the baseline for all sales. To know what a perspective customer wants means listening to what they have to say. Often customers want to tell you their story before they even want to look at or hear what you have to offer. As sales people we need to be able to listen to their story, be able to cut to the specifics of what they are saying all the while reinforcing that you’ve actually heard them and are acknowledging that. A successful salesperson does this with you feeling like you’ve controlled the whole event, an unsuccessful salesperson leaves you feeling like you’ve just shook hands with the King of Sleaze and that you are being pushed in a direction you don’t want to go.
Effective closing is something most sales people ignore. At a training course I attended I listened to the trainer talk about his successful sales record, in fact he was the highest in his chosen industry, in his country at the time. However he had a forty percent cancellation rate within the ten day period and his was the lowest cancellation rate too. He developed a simple technique to counteract all of that and his cancellation rate dropped to just under ten per cent. He has added that technique into all his sales trainings be it for high end corporate sales or low end shop purchases and it works across the board. I’ve added it too and it makes a huge difference.
Service providers. So often in sales we forget that we are simply service providers and to be successful we have to match the service with the client and not the other way around. The way a lot of sales people have been trained is, in my opinion, simply wrong and thankfully that is now changing so that sales is part and parcel of what we do regardless of the position we hold in whatever business we work in from the doorman at an expensive hotel to the managing director of the very same expensive hotel, how we do what we do reflects how we provide the service for the client, which in turn benefits our business.
We’ve all had to sell in our businesses, how do you do it, how do you measure its effectiveness? For you, is it the financial return or is there more to it than that?