Let’s face it. People hate being sold to. If you start telling them about how your product is an “awesome buy” and “there are only two left, so you should hurry,” then people will raise their hackles. Just think of the times you threw up a stop sign when someone tried to sell you services, gadgets, or discounted items you didn’t want.
Regardless, everyone should learn how to sell because the ability to persuade and negotiate is necessary in so many situations, both in your personal and professional life. Truth is, you are always selling. If you can’t sell, then your success is limited.
Many strategies exist for selling well, whether you are a novice at it or an expert. You can find books with lengthy lists of strategies on this subject, but let’s start with three quick successful selling tips that apply even if you are a master at sales.
Tip 1: Listen to what the customer wants
Being a good listener is more important than being able to list all the features and benefits of the service or product that you are selling. Think about how important listening is when you want your needs heard as a customer.
Recently, I had been using a brand of skincare products for several months without seeing the results that I wanted, so I stopped using it. The associates who sold me the products immediately asked if I had been using the items exactly as instructed. They said I needed to give the products more time to see the desired improvements, and I could speak to one of their skincare advisers to get some advice.
Interestingly, however, not once did they ask what it was that I wanted, or why I quit using the products!
In hindsight, if they had taken a minute to ask, “What do you want the skincare to do for you?” Or, “Why did you stop using the skincare?” Then they would have discovered that I had an allergic reaction. They would have also found out that I did some research on my own and I realized their products weren’t advisable for someone with my type of skin condition.
Listening to what the customer wants is vital.
Listening to what the customer wants is necessary if you want to sell.
The skincare associates were so busy with getting me to see how their products would benefit me if only I kept using them, that they didn’t consider the possibility that I wasn’t a fit for their products. They didn’t even ask why I quit, because if they had, they would have found out the products had caused me pain that lasted a month.
So the first quick tip on selling is to listen and really find out what’s really going on. If a customer isn’t interested in buying, pushing features and benefits won’t get you the sale. Learning their story, however, will get you closer to the sale.
Tip 2: Build rapport and trust with the customer
Back to the first rule of sales: Don’t push features and benefits. Last month, I was giving some feedback to a coworker who was practicing to become an insurance agent. He was a bit nervous, trying to remember all the points he was supposed to cover in the sales presentation. Accurate recall was necessary for him to be released and out doing business. I noticed he was so focused on getting all the elements of his presentation right that he wasn’t really listening to my answers to his questions, or noticing that a human being was sitting across the table from him.
Building rapport and trust with the customer is important if you want to close the deal and get the sale.
It helps to approach the customer as though he or she is a friend… but do it professionally. Before starting the presentation, ask some quick questions. Talk about the weather, weekend plans, family pictures in the hallway, how the day went… anything to keep the conversation light and get to know the human sitting across from you before you start to make any sales pitch.
When a customer feels that you’re interested in their well being, that you mean more to them than some income in your pocket, then they are more likely to do business with you.
You close more deals with genuine conversation.
I remember with one client, I was truly impressed with the decor and the atmosphere of their apartment. I gave them honest compliments and we had a brief conversation about their family, career plans, and what brought them to the neighbourhood. The information they openly shared with me helped to customize my presentation so that I was able to sell them a plan that best suited their situation.
Also, when you know more about your customer, you can explain your service or product in a way that makes sense to them. For example, when I found out a client was expecting to have a child later that year, I highlighted the benefits of getting a plan that will help the client invest 25 years into the child’s future.
Tip 3: Respect each other’s time
A sales meeting should have a set start and end time. Even if you share small talk about family, hobbies, or vacation, the main reason for the meeting is for the sales talk. After you set a time, confirm it with a reminder text or email a day to an hour before the meeting.
Arrive at the meeting on time. It shows you respect their schedule, and demonstrates your professionalism. Wear a watch so that you can keep track of the time. Check the time at strategic points in the meeting – checking every 15 minutes makes you look disinterested, but checking when there is a pause in the discussion will show that you’re in a hurry. Saying that you have an appointment after the current one will give the impression that you are busy.
Bring a watch. Look busy. Look professional. Stay on schedule.
Another reason for keeping tabs on the time is your customer is likely to lose focus and not make any purchases if the meeting is more than two hours long. My first week in sales, I had an appointment that was three hours long, and by the end of it, I could see the client family was exhausted and so was I!
I’ve come across many great books on sales, as well as tips and tricks. In this blog, I’ve featured only three quick tips, but I find these are key to getting a sale. Listen to your customers, get to know them, and then sell them what they need.