Sales for People Who don’t do Sales
If you’re a business owner or involved in getting new customers or clients, understanding some fundamental sales techniques can help you win new business.
A Hiscox survey of SMEs highlighted driving new business as the biggest challenge facing SMEs, above customer retention and staff health and wellbeing so it’s clear that sales is a skill that SMEs really need to develop.
Last month award-winning sales consultant Paul Durrant delivered a fantastic free sales course at our Business Campus based in Rainham East-London. Here’s some of the highlights from Paul’s session:
What is the definition of sales?
According to Wikipedia “sales are activities related to selling or the number of goods sold in a given targeted time period. The delivery of a service for a cost is also considered a sale”
There are 3 stages to sales:
- Pre-sale: The marketing and prospecting activity prior to the transaction
- Sale: The transaction between a seller and a buyer i.e. the customer
- After-sale: Retaining that customer and growing their account spend
Three Main Types of ‘Non-Seller’
Many business owners disassociate themselves from sales for 3 main reasons:
- Dislike Sales: People who think sales is sleazy, manipulative, odious and unsavory – so want to distance themselves from it.
- Don’t Understand Sales: People who lack any formal training or experience in sales i.e. they have a knowledge and know-how deficit.
- Fearful of Sales: People who feel unconfident about sales because of their personality type or perhaps because they fear rejection.
Historical depictions of sleazy, deceitful and manipulative salespeople have reinforced our negative bias towards sales, so many people therefore try and distance themselves from it but sales is how we all make a living and turn a profit. Any ‘sales aversion’ that you may hold could be costing you and your business lost revenue, profit and growth.
How to deal with your dislike of sales
Most people have never been taught the fundamentals of selling. Sales is really just helping someone take action on their needs and wants (emphasis on helping).
“Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’ Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.”
Mary Kay Ash (Millionaire US Business Women)
Someone once quoted ‘helping is the new selling’, but sales has always been about helping someone solve a problem or improve the quality of their life. All a modern seller should be thinking about today is ‘how much can I help this customer’ – not ‘how much can I sell this customer. Sales is about serving!
How to deal with your fear of sales
We tend to fear things we don’t understand or that we’ve had a bad previous experience of. Some of us fear appearing too pushy, offending someone, being rejected, not being assertive enough or simply messing up.
“Sales success comes after you stretch yourself past your limits on a daily basis.” Omar Periu (Award winning author and speaker)
5 Step process for conquering a fear of sales
- Be prepared – do your research
- Get curious and ask questions
- Talk with passion belief & conviction
- Be customer / solution centric
- Follow a system (for reassurance)
The 3 pillars of selling:
Good sales is all about being consistent. This means having a more strategic and process driven approach to selling. If you sell in an ad-hoc manner, you will get ad-hoc results and end up in the monthly ‘chase/service’ cycle (chasing sales one month, servicing it the next).
Get a ‘Smarketing Plan’ that details your strategies, goals, marketing basics, sales targets, activity levels and resources needed.
Use a set of logical and actional steps for selling – that will help bring more consistency to your how you do sales.
Consider some formal sales training/coaching – for better understanding your customers’ problems, buying preferences and personality types.
Understanding your customers journey
Many buyers are already 50%+ through their buying journey, before even involving a seller! AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action) is part of their buying journey – but not their whole journey. Put yourself in your customer shoes and audit their journey – to spot any weak links.
Understanding your value proposition
“A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered, communicated, and acknowledged. It is also a belief from the customer about how value will be delivered and experienced. Use this canvas to formulate your value proposition” – Wikipedia Definition
- Research and list what your customers needs and wants are and what would stop them buying?
- Write down how your products benefit your customers, as well any relevant experience/credentials that might increase your credibility.
- List in the ‘substitutes’ section what other options your customers have and why you are better! (Peter Thompson Strategy Canvas Model)
Using a formulated sales process
- Prospecting – undertaking research in order to identify a list of prospective ‘target market’ customers.
- Preparation – creating useful marketing content that appeals to your target market and piques their interest.
- Engagement – engaging with prospects via channels that are appropriate for your target market.
- Presentation – presenting your proposal which specifies how you will solve their problems/meet their needs.
- Negotiation – answering your prospects queries, giving them enough information to make an informed buying decision, handling their objections and closing the sale.
- Retention – retaining your customers business by giving them great CX (Customer Experience) and turning them into brand advocates/champions for your company.
Closing deals with confidence
If you’ve followed a sales process then this should lead you to a place where you can ask for the sale. It’s important to get a definitive yes or no – so you know what to do next.
If the answer is yes, then get the paperwork done but if the answer is no – then ask why they felt it wasn’t right for them (but don’t push too hard). Here are 4 modern sales closes:
Summary close: Selectively summarise the benefits and value that point towards the only logical conclusion that the buyer can take. Get their ‘buy in’ by using a phrase like: “Does all of that make enough sense for us to proceed now?”
Something for nothing close: This works on the principle of reciprocity i.e. people respond to a positive action with a reciprocal positive action of their own. Try: “Let me throw in xxx as I’m really keen to work with you – how does that sound?”
FOMO close: If your offer is time limited e.g. seasonal or if you have limited stock, then point this out to the customer, if they are hesitant. Many buyers need a little gentle direction sometimes – especially if they are naturally indecisive.
Assumptive close: If you’re getting strong buying signals e.g. nodding in agreement, enthusiastic answers etc. – then ask them out right: “Shall we get the paperwork done then?”. Follow this with a silent pause, so they can process your request!