Selling For Success
Of all the different elements that make up a successful business, many would argue that it’s the Sales function that really is the most vital. After all, you might have the best product or service in the world but, unless customers know about it and buy it, your business cannot survive.
Our other articles in this series will go on to consider how to convey your messages to your target audiences, but for the purposes of this piece, let’s assume that your marketing activities have raised awareness for your business, your product or service and your brand.
So, having successfully told your audience about your existence, how do we convert that knowledge and awareness into hard cash?
Assuming that your business is targeting other businesses – a so-called business-to-business transaction – the first stage is to make sure that you’re meeting with, or at the very least, chatting to, the decision-maker. Otherwise, you’re ultimately wasting your effort, if you’ve invested time and potentially expense in speaking to a member of staff who isn’t empowered to specify your product or service.
Of course, if you’re selling to your end-user, it’s a little easier, from the point of view that they will generally be the final decision-maker.
Now, while the textbook transaction would be a complete acquiescence with your price, an exact agreement with your product features and benefits (of which more in a forthcoming article) and a swift delivery and payment timescale, these golden nuggets of sales nirvana rarely align. In reality, there will be negotiations galore, and often some good old-fashioned horse-trading to contend with.
So, let’s start with the negotiations. These will often consist of what is known as objection handling – a situation where basically the buyer will raise hurdles, which, if you are able to overcome them, will generally result in a successful transaction.
Probably the easiest and most effective way to deal with objections is to use the following steps:
- Listen Fully to the Objection. Your first reaction when you hear an objection may be to jump right in and respond immediately.
- Understand the Objection Completely.
- Respond Properly and Fully.
- Confirm You've Satisfied the Objection.
Once you have achieved the final step, and the potential customer has agreed that the objection is no longer a valid issue, you can progress towards closing the deal.
Good salespeople know that asking questions is the most effective way to learn about the needs of your customers. But you’ve got to ask the right questions. Otherwise, you risk scaring prospective customers out the door – or simply annoying them so much that they decide to buy elsewhere.
So, be careful how you try to close the deal, but remember that a lost sale is never truly lost. Do not burn bridges with non-clients. If they buy from someone else today, they may be unhappy with their decision. By checking back with them regularly, you may win their future business.
Finally, don’t forget that successful selling is an ongoing process. The after-sales contact and the product or service maintenance (if applicable) are as important as the actual supply. This is where subsequent business and third-party recommendations are won, so just because you’ve completed the sale, it’s no excuse to relax. You may miss another ‘halo’ sale if you do.