Whether you like it or not, everyone is selling something, particularly those of us in business. As eCommerce expands, more and more sole traders and start-ups are entering the sales game, competing with big business for customer dollars and market share. In such a competitive landscape it’s important to maximise opportunities, turning inquiries into purchases, and purchases into ongoing sales relationships.
As a sales leader and trainer, I’ve seen many an average salesperson ply their trade, turning customers away in droves. For those working in big business, they might be able to afford an indifferent customer or two, but for those of us steering our own ships, customers are like gold.
Here are 5 tips to convert conversations into dollars.
1. Ask (a lot) of questions
It seems obvious, but most salespeople get it wrong. They’re too interested in pushing a product than getting to know their customer, or they ask a few generic questions and then rush into a premature recommendation. This presumptive attitude leads to missed opportunities. Your customer will be yawning as you explain features they are never going to use and benefits they could not care less about. Instead, surprise your customer by asking them things they never even considered would be relevant, things like:
• Tell me how you plan on using the product.
• What do you hope this product will do for you?
• What experience have you had with products like this before?
Ask, keep asking, and once you think you’ve asked enough, ask some more. Where, why, when, what, how, who? Don’t make it an interrogation. Make it a conversation.
2. Get on their side
Change your attitude. Want what’s best for the customer, not what’s best for you. Put yourself in their shoes and try and get the best deal for them. Customers can tell if you truly want to help them, or if you are only trying to help yourself. If you can convince them that you are on their side, kind of like their own personal shopping advisor, they are more likely to shop (and keep shopping) with you.
This is where empathy is important. As your customer answers your questions, listen and react to what they say. If they tell you about their horrible day, grimace and tell them it sounds awful. Repeat their answers back to them so that they know you are listening, not in a robotic, insincere way, but with warmth and understanding. Australians in particular, often connect more with the salesperson than they do with a product. Nurture that connection. Become fast friends!
3. Personalise the benefits
By now, you should know your customer so well that you are ready to make a recommendation on what they should buy. Go ahead, be bold, tell them what they need and why they need it. But don’t make the mistake of running through the list of features and benefits of the product, hoping one will catch your customer’s attention. That is amateur hour. Customers can read product specs for themselves. They don’t need you to do it for them. Instead, tell them why this product will suit them, using their own words. E.g. You said you wanted a dishwasher that won’t wake your two children up when they’re sleeping. This machine here is whisper quiet and would suit you perfectly.
In one day you might sell ten of one particular dishwasher to ten different customers. That means you should sell it differently all ten times. ‘Why? The dishwasher is the same,’ I hear you say. Yes, but each customer is different. They each have different wants and needs, therefore they will be excited by different features. One might desire affordability, another durability. If you’ve been listening, you’ll know exactly which feature they want and how to pitch the product too them.
4. Single Price Point Sell
Nobody wants to pay extra. As soon as a salesperson says, ‘for just a little extra,’ I switch off. I hate extra. See for yourself. Which of these is better?
‘That vacuum cleaner is $500. For an extra $50 you can purchase the extended warranty. And for an extra $25 on top of that you’ll get 10 extra vacuum bags.’
‘That vacuum cleaner is $575. That includes our extended warranty and 10 extra vacuum bags.’
I think it’s quite obvious that the second options is going to lead to higher sales, so think of ways to bundle your products and services together. Make it easy for the customer.
Fast food outlets are the masters at doing this. We all buy the value meals with fries and a drink included. Nobody buys them separately… do they?
5. Follow up.
Post-sale care is what separates the best from the rest. Good salespeople understand that the sale might be complete, but the job’s not done. Don’t underestimate the power of the follow-up phone call, email or letter. This is where a little effort goes a long way.
Remember, it is way less expensive to nurture existing customers than it is to find new ones. Good follow up will not only help you retain your current client base, but can even ensure it grows as your happy customers tell their friends how good you are.