If you are in business, you must sell. If you don’t like selling, then you should get out of business. No matter what level of the organization you are in, you are the chief rainmaker. You need to do marketing and selling.
In a recent webinar at The Business Show :: Africa 2022, Harry Welby-Cooke (leading business and executive coach from ActionCOACH) discussed our perception of salespeople and how we need to change it to get the ultimate sales for our business. Here are nine tips from his webinar at The Business Show.
Understand your identity
What words come to mind when you think of “a salesperson”? Many will say pushy, relentless, dirty, aggravating, a liar, and a bad listener to name a few. And this may have been influenced by our past experiences of salespeople who would try to sell you a free holiday but first you had to listen to a sales pitch or the never-ending call centres that want to sell you your 12th cellophane contract. And you would not be wrong in not wanting to be like them, but we need to change how see ourselves.
We need to define ourselves as a sales professional. This is someone who feels proud to go into the market because through the sales they make in the business, they will be able to put food on the table for their family. When sales professionals go to market to sell, they match their actions to their business, professionalism, and ethics.
Help people professionally to buy
None of us like to be sold to but we do like to buy. We help people to buy by establishing the need of the customer, highlighting their need to them, and then showing them how we can match their need with the product or service we are offering.
Map out the sales process
The sales process starts with getting your lead and the various touchpoints along the way. Jeffrey Gitomer, a sales expert in Canada, says that all things being equal, people buy from those they know, like and trust and all things being not so equal they buy from those they know, like and trust. Without millions to spend on branding, it is important for SMEs to create a process that builds the know, like and trust with their customers.
You need to look at the whole process from the interest in your brand to money in the bank. What are the backwards and forwards actions that need to happen between you and your customer during the process of selling? Remember the process doesn’t have to be perfect, but it must be consistent.
Remember sales is like show business
Think about the last time you cried in a movie? Now imagine how much time has been invested in the script to make you cry. There have been writers, directors and actors all looking at the script and giving their input, then they have rehearsed and practised it. The same is true in sales. You need to script the interactions we have in our business; we need to rehearse the script and practise it in different scenarios we have experienced in our business. Because if we don’t script it and practise it then we will look like an amateur and the chance of the customer putting the phone down on us before we finished our second or third sentence is very likely. Remember to script, rehearse, practice and then you can execute it.
To check if you got the scripted part right, you can ask your customers if you can record the call so that you can go back on the call and listen and see what sounds off and improve your script for the next customer.
Control the process and position the different stages
As you have mapped the process out earlier, you can now control the process. You need to position yourself at the start of the sales call to have control over the process. When you start the call, you can say this: “So that I can serve you better, would you mind if I ask you a few questions”. This gives your customer a chance to hand over the control. In addition, when you ask the questions and you give your customer time to speak, they have started to build a relationship with you while they are speaking. After you have gotten the information from the customer then you can give them a proposal.
It is also important to remember that sales is like dating. You can’t go from single to married in one go. There are multiple steps that need to be taken before you get to know, like and trust a person enough to marry them. This is the same in sales.
When you are selling an item with a high value you will sell less frequently, and you need more touchpoints. The lower the value the more frequently people buy it and the fewer touchpoints you need.
Ask for the business
You have built a great rapport with your client; they love what you are saying, and if you don’t ask for the sale then all your effort may be lost. Also, if you speak too much you may talk yourself out of a sale. One of the good things from the 80s sales era are buying signals. When your customer starts to ask you questions you know that they are moving towards wanting to purchase your service or product. And don’t be afraid of a “no”. If your customer says “no”, it gives you an opportunity to try and find out why they said “no” and maybe you can turn the “no” into a “yes”.
Play the numbers game
Sales is a numbers game; therefore, we need to test, measure, and keep score. We need to look at how many leads we are converting and if it is low, we need to see how we can improve it. We need to test different marketing avenues and see where clients come from and how much money they bring into the business. We need to ensure we have small ticket items which pay your day-to-day expenses and if we have big-ticket items, we know that we need to have more touchpoints and we need to invest more time into the item to make a sale. The big-ticket items normally take care of our profit, reinvestment and taking us forward.
Don’t fear rejection
When it comes to sales many people are scared to hear “no”. But this fear is unfounded. We should look at “no” as an opportunity to see the concerns of our customers and walk them through each one. Ask your customer what concerns they have and write each one down. Then read the list back to the customer to make sure you understood the concerns clearly and ask them again if that’s all their concerns. If they say “no”, then ask them what other concerns they may have. When you have a full and verified list from your customers then deal with each concern and make sure your solution is acceptable to the customer. Then when you are done dealing with their concerns, you can ask them how they would like to move forward.
Remember to script your response to the common rejections you face, so you are prepared when your customer rejects you.
Next, don’t get addicted to hopium. This is when you speak to a couple of customers, and they say they will get back. Then you sit back and wait for their contact praying and hoping it will happen. There is nothing wrong with hoping and praying but you must continue to actively canvas clients so that you can make sure you have enough sales to sustain your business.
Sharpen your sword
When you are in business, you have many different fields which you need to know about, and you need to be a constant learner. So, what are you learning about?
If you want to learn more about sales here are some authors and people Harry recommends you read or follow:
- Og Mandino – The book “The greatest salesman in the world”.
- Jeffery Gitomer – The books are “Sales Bible”, “the little red book of selling”, and newsletters, and podcasts.
- Ari Galper – He speaks about trust-based selling and relationship-based selling
- Brian Tracy – A good resource for general sales knowledge
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