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Sales is an area of business that often drives forward every other facet of the business. For without good sales there is not enough cash coming into the business to pay for all the overheads and support functions that make the business run smoothly and profitably.
So sales is important and vital to support healthy cash flow. And good sales people are therefore in high demand, as companies require skilled and effective people to make their business visions a success.
When I first got interested in sales in my early twenties, I couldn't get a sales role of any kind as I was told I didn't have the necessary experience. So I knocked on lots of doors until I got my first role appointment making for a local design agency, who hedged their bets by just employing me for a short time several afternoons a week.
Now I knew I could sell, I started making appointments immediately and I think I achieved six on my first day alone! So I rose through the ranks very quickly. It is true to say, I had a natural sales talent, but it really came from a fear of failure and wanting to give a good account of myself.
What I had was determination, and a belief that failure was definitely not an option. Under those circumstances making sales was a lot easier, and getting decisions from customers, commonly known as 'closing' is what I did and it seemed to come naturally, as I was so dedicated to being a success.
What many practitioners of sales training focus on is 'closing techniques' and whilst it is true that there must be certain structures and protocols in place, what is much harder to teach to sales people is the drive in oneself that MUST be nurtured, to create an attitude of success.
If you are reading this article looking for manipulative ways to guide customers to parting with their cash, then you may be disappointed and search elsewhere. But if you can sense the logic of what I am writing, then read on and I promise there will be far more success than using the tired approach of spin and deception, that historically has been associated with the practise of sales.
There is a very good movie featuring Will Smith, 'In pursuit of Happiness' that typifies the spirit and ingredients of a good sales person, I think that film captures what most companies wish they could inject just a little of into their best sales people, and yes, though the character goes to great lengths to succeed, it is his true character that shines through.
Closing vs. Making
In closing a sale, we are really describing the process of MAKING a sale, and the first thing necessary to make that as easy and intuitive for you as possible, is your product knowledge. You MUST learn about what you are selling to the point where you can answer ALL questions. You can overcome ALL objections and doubting questions only when you are armed with the FACTS.
Let me repeat that for you, there are NO shortcuts here: You must be in the full receipt of all your product (or service) features and even more importantly the benefits they provide to the customer.
Remember features are OK but they don't sell. They only sell when you translate them into benefits.
Customers can relate to benefits, they can make decisions much easier if they can assess quickly how what you are offering will make their life better or easier.
Did you know that most customers show up ready and wanting to buy and it is often during the sales interaction that it all falls down?
But if you are armed with all your facts and you possess a strong belief in your product or service, it comes across and your sheer confidence makes your sales appear to happen by magic to those observing you.
There is a saying that 'Luck is where preparation meets opportunity - this was never truer than in the case of sales.
Knowing your product, understanding where you stand in the market completely, your strengths and weaknesses compared to your competitors, (and having answers to all of them in advance) will make you formidable, and I certainly don't mean in any aggressive or pushy way.
This will then naturally lead onto the next quality that will help you in making sales, your self confidence. Here I am referring to a quiet confidence that makes the customer naturally feel at ease.
You are focusing on delivering the best service to your customers and you are letting it flow. There is nothing worse than a desperate sales person.
Believe me you can smell it a mile away. If you are in that frame of mind then forget it, that is when it all becomes forced, embarrassing for the customer and a bad reflection on your own state of mind.
However you have to get there, you must be in the right place to do business. If you are not feeling right, then you must deal with it before getting back in front of customers.
People can easily sense anxiety and stress in you, then even if you do 'close' them into a sale, it will not have a good ending if the deal was done under any form of pressure that left them not feeling good with what they walked away with.
In terms of the old manipulative ways of closing sales, well those books are a nice relic, but audiences have changed these days. Now sales people must look into engaging customers and developing long term relationships built upon trust and mutual respect.
Yes, there are times as a sales person when you really want to get that sale with every fibre of your being and I know that 'hunter' instinct is hard to resist.
But take note, the really smart sales people don't go for a short term kill, they realise it's far more effective to develop Win-Win relationships and then get the stream of incoming leads that have come from them being authentic and delivering a genuinely good service in their selling role.
So enjoy being a sales professional, work hard on being the best you can be, and concentrate on serving your customers with a fantastic winning attitude, and you'll never be the one using cheesy lines and resorting to embarrassing traps - you deserve the best - so why give anything less of yourself?