Does this sound familiar; you walk into a store and you are greeted by a sales staff member asking if you would like some help and you always seem to say “I’m just looking’. I believe this is an automatic defence mechanism we have built to ward away salespeople from convincing us to purchase something that we never wanted or needed in the first place. After all we all want to be in control of our purchasing decisions don’t we?
While I no longer play an active role in the day to day sales at Crucial I still absolutely love sales, why? Because it gives me the opportunity to talk to new people, it challenges my communication skills and I have a small window of opportunity where I can help someone find a solution to a problem they have. Now what I have just said here is that I see sales as an opportunity to grow and help people not just to make money. I wish more sales people saw the art of selling in the same light, the reason for this is that while hitting the numbers are important for any business ultimately the numbers approach will leave you miserable, like with everything else in life people and understanding them is the key to success.
1. The basics, not everyone can sell. I say Bullsh*t.
I cringe every time someone says that they ‘cannot sell’ or that ‘the best sales people have charisma or are naturally outgoing’. Firstly do away with this preconception. Here’s what I say to you if you believe this ‘an astronaut wasn’t born an astronaut, they are normal people who understand what is required to become an astronaut and they work hard towards achieving that goal’. Now if this is true it would also be true for every other profession so wouldn’t you agree that this would also apply to salespeople?
2. Shut up, ask questions and listen
It’s the age old ‘you have two ears and one mouth so listen twice as much as you speak’. This is common sense but it’s interesting how many people forget this when they start talking to a customer or even to people they meet. Questions help you establish how you should be manoeuvring the conversation and they will give you a better understanding of the person you are talking and without this understanding or knowledge you may as well be speaking another language.
3. Don’t ask closed questions
Let’s say in this example you just sold a fridge to someone and you knew that your customers fridge had just died one month out of the standard 12 month warranty. You had also established through questioning and getting to know them that they were saving to take a family holiday overseas next year and that purchasing this fridge was using some of their holiday savings. Here is a chance for you to sell an extended warranty with the fridge for $100 which would extend the warranty from 1 to 3 years and this small investment would give them peace of mind and security you also understand that it will push their budget which was already coming from their holiday savings. How do you approach this? One way which is the most commonly used is to lead with a closed question such as ‘Did you want the extended warranty with the fridge, it costs $100 and will give you an extra two years cover?’. The answer in most cases would be ‘No thanks wouldn’t it?’. My approach to this challenge would be to present the extended warranty this way”
‘It’s unfortunate that your fridge died when it was just out warranty, it would be bad timing if this happened again next year before you went on your holiday wouldn’t it? (yes it would). I don’t want this to be a concern for you because I would really like to see you enjoy your holiday so I think this is a great opportunity for us to take a look at the extended warranties available, especially since the investment is nothing compared to a new fridge”.
Always remember that the way you structure your offer will come down to the questions you asked while getting to know the customer.
4.Explain the benefits not the features
No one cares about the features of a product or service they only care about the benefits to them. Here’s an example.
A car has the following features.
- Sun Visor with a large mirror
- Electric Windows
- Key-less start
Now to most people these are great features but meaningless unless you can attach a direct benefit to the person that you are speaking with. Let’s look at Julie, Julie is buying a new car and through my questioning I have established that she often rushes around and does her make-up in the car, she also has paperwork with her which she reads while driving to and from meetings whether it be in the day or night (she know’s it’s not safe but it’s how she does things). When she got out of her car I also noticed she had her hands full with a big bunch of keys and had trouble finding things in her bag.
Here is how I would get her involved in these features.
“Julie a bigger mirror in your car would help especially when you’re putting on your make-up wouldn’t it? (yes) great well the visor mirror in this car is actually 50% larger than most other cars isn’t that convenient? (yes). It also comes with electric windows and seeing as you do read your papers while you drive I understand that your hands are already tied so I think they would make your drive that little bit easier, wouldn’t you agree? (yes). Lastly I couldn’t help but notice your key ring it sure looks heavy, how great would it be to leave your keys in your bag when you start your car? (that would be great) well Julie this car comes with key less start so each time you get in your new car all you need to do is put your bag down and hit that lovely round button that says start and you’re way.”
5.Present your solution as an investment not a cost
Why do people always talk about costs when making purchases? Most of our purchases involve either an investment of our time or we are buying to improve some aspect of our life. Remember a cost is something that we incur and generally doesn’t benefit us while an investment provides us with a return or at least a sense of return on our investment.
Let’s look at travel insurance as an example. The last time I went to a travel agent I was told that the ‘cost’ for insurance was $110 for the trip I was taking now the question I asked was why is it a cost if it’s going to be protecting me against things that can go wrong? I saw this as an investment in my security. This simple change of words can be applied to almost everything so if you’re selling a product or service that will enable someone to grow their business or it will provide someone with an obvious benefit please never again use the word ‘cost’ again! Replace it with ‘investment’ and you will start to see a higher rate of take up. Here are two ways to approach this.
- The investment in the product is XX and it the benefit to you is X
- The monthly investment for the software is XX and the benefits to your bottom line are X
These 5 simple tips will help you get more people involved in your product, service or just yourself but like with anything you they are useless unless you put them in to action. If you have any other tips I would love to hear them 🙂
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