People hate being sold to. If you tell them your product is an “awesome buy” and “there are only two left,” 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 both your personal and professional life. The reality is, you’re always selling. If you can’t sell, you’ll limit your success at getting hired or being the person friends want to spend time with.
Whether you’re a novice or an expert, you’ll find selling strategies that work for you. Let’s start with three quick selling tips that’ll make you successful, even if you are already a master at sales.
Tip 1: Listen to what the customer wants
Being a great listener surpasses listing all the features and benefits of the service or product you are selling. Think about how you want your needs heard as a customer.
For example, I used a skincare brand for several months without seeing any results, so I stopped using it. The associates who sold me the products immediately asked if I had used the items exactly as instructed. They said I needed to give the products more time to see the desired improvements. I could speak to one of their skincare advisers to get some advice.
Interestingly, however, not once did they ask what I wanted, or why I quit using the products!
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?” I would have told them I had an allergic reaction. Their products weren’t advisable for someone with my 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 trying so hard to show how their products would benefit me that they didn’t consider the possibility that I wasn’t a fit. They didn’t even ask why I quit, but if they had, they would have found out the products had caused me a month of pain.
So the first quick tip on selling is to listen and really find out what’s 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 success.
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 roleplaying with a friend who was practicing as an insurance agent. He was nervous, trying to remember every point he was supposed to cover in the sales presentation. Accurate recall was necessary for him to be in the field with clients. He was so focused on getting all the elements of his presentation right that he didn’t listen to my answers. He simply fired off each line of questions from his sales script.
Building rapport and trust with the customer is important if you want to close the deal and get the sale.
Approach the customer as though they were 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. 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 feeling impressed with the decor and the atmosphere of a client’s apartment. I gave them honest compliments as 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.
When you know more about your customer, you can customize your service or product to their needs. 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 to help the client invest twenty-five years into the child’s future.
Tip 3: Respect each other’s time
Set a clear start and end time for your sales meeting. 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 your client’s schedule and demonstrates your professionalism. Wear a watch so that you can discretely keep track of the time at strategic points in the meeting. Checking every fifteen minutes makes you look disinterested. Checking during a pause in the discussion will show that you have a schedule to keep. Explaining that you have an appointment after the current one gives 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 will lose focus and not buy if the meeting is more than two hours long. In my first week in sales, I had an appointment that was three hours long, and by the end of it, the client 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 these are key to getting a sale. Listen to your customers, get to know them, and then sell them what they need.
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