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The Art of Selling

Preparation and Research

  • Research competitors and understand the landscape of your market.
  • Know your product and be the expert, this knowledge is key to your success.
  • Understand your businesses USP’s and be confident about articulating them.
  • Get organized, have a clear seamless process so you can manage customers’ expectations.

Prospecting

  • Always have a range of outreach campaigns in place to connect with your ideal customer. These should include telephone contact, personal emails and social media posts.
  • Aim to build relationships with customers in the prospecting stage of the sales process. Research has shown that a customer normally needs 3 to 5 successful interactions with a salesperson before they start to trust them.
  • Sales is a numbers game, be prepared to manage rejection and work the numbers. If you contact 100 people you will ultimately sell more than the salesperson talking to 50. Look at rejection as just one more off the list before you succeed.

Discovery

  • Be a great listener. Do not start a meeting by rambling on about your company or product before you understand what the customer requires.
  • Ask lots of questions, this will help you gain a greater understand of your customers’ requirements and help qualify the right solution. Do not pitch to early, this is a common schoolboy error that trips up inexperienced salespeople every day. If you have not qualified fully, you leave the door open for the customer to reject your offering because they see it as the wrong solution.
  • Communication is king, pick up the phone and talk to people. While email is ok, a lot can be lost, it fails to capture tone and emotion. Talking to a customer and understanding their needs makes it more likely that they will buy from you.

Pitch

  • Present the best solution you have to your customer. Articulate all the unique feature and benefits you can offer. Bring these into the context of their business, use all the key things you have discussed during discovery.
  • Be prepared to admit some disadvantages in your product. But offset those against credible advantages. This will demonstrate credibility and earn the customer’s trust.
  • Do not be shy about your price. If your expensive, say so and get the subject out on the table. Refer to all your USP’s so the customer understands where the extra value is and highlight again why they are an essential part of your offering. This leaves the customer clear on why they should buy from you rather that a cheaper competitor.           

Manage Objection

  • Listen to feedback and be careful not to come across as defensive. Go back to listening mode and take in all the points the customer is feeding back.
  • Qualify the points and put them into an order of what is essential and what is desirable.
  • Manage expectations and, if necessary, take your time to offer a response.
  • Go back to your customer and cover any concerns point by point, addressing the areas of key concern. If they do not buy now, at least you have demonstrated you are a professional and you will have a good relationship intact for another day.

Close the Sale

  • Follow up promptly. Research indicates that nearly 60% of salespeople do not follow up a quotation. They believe that if they have offered a solution, managed objections then it is best to leave it with the customer. This is false, research also indicates that most people buy from businesses that have followed up their proposal quickly and asked for the order.
  • Manage the administration of the sale effectively so there are no issues further down the process.

Follow Up

  • Always under promise and overdeliver. Make sure your product or service is on point and the customer is really pleased with the service they have received. Too often salespeople are great when they are looking for an order and then poor on delivery. The customer spots this as behaviour pattern and looks for other options.
  • Always ask for referrals. The easiest way to win a new customer is via an introduction from a happy existing one.

About the author

Click to Read More About Mark Underwood

Mark has 30 years of board level experience working within manufacturing and distribution businesses operating around the globe. He has held positions in sales and marketing and operations, but has predominantly been the Managing Director. Mark’s spent many years working within the medical device sector and built a business operating across 16 different countries, winning the UK exporter of the year award.

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