No matter what your ambitions or goals are, it is inevitable that you will have to sell someone to something at some point. Whether you work for a charity or an international business, or you are heading back to your youth and opening up a lemonade stand, a knack for selling should be a quality you look to improve on. We actually sell often, yet people forget the fine-tuning and strategy that comes with the practice.
Here are a few tips for selling:
Have a plan.
If you are not prepared for a meeting, reschedule. If a question comes up that you do not know the answer to, do not try and answer. Respond with, “I will have to get back to you on that.” When it comes to selling in the professional world, you should have a plan and you should know everything about what you are selling.
If presenting a slideshow, you should have backup slides to use only if certain questions arise. Your plan should not just be something you whipped up, but rather, an organized and structured pitch. Having a proper plan before you sell should include possible challenges that might arise from your customer. You should be trying to minimize surprises so that when a question is asked, you are already prepared with an answer.
Control the sale.
If you have an amazing plan, do not veer from it. CONTROL the sale. People get excited, angry, bored and tend to make their own agendas while you are selling. Is this part of your plan? No, so be in control and show confidence that you know what you are talking about.
This is your sales pitch. Yes, the customer can show judgment and ask questions, but it is your job to bring him or her back to where you want him or her to be. If you do not control the sale, the customer will take it over and the final outcome will be out of your hands.
Be a good listener.
Talking is easy; anyone can talk for days, especially in a sales pitch. Learn to listen and be silent. This is the most underused tip in the world of selling. Why? Sales is related to talking and silence creates awkwardness for people. So when most people sell, they end up talking and talking and forgetting to actually listen to the person they are selling to.
If your customer asks you a question, listen to the question, and answer that question. Do not go rambling on about 10 other features and benefits if that is not what the customer asked. While someone else is talking, listen. It angers people to ask a question and have everything but that question answered.
Listening will stop you from outselling yourself. When you become better at selling, ask your customer a question and let him or her answer. Follow this by not saying a world, and I guarantee the customer will start talking again to break the silence. All of a sudden, he or she feels more involved and opens up because of the awkward silence you created.
Ask questions where ‘no’ is not an option.
In your planning, you should know your customer and his or her needs. Unless you are cold calling, hopefully you know something about the customer, his or her company or surroundings.
When you ask the customer a question, you are not only moving in for more information, but you should also be cornering him or her. Your question should be part of your plan. The easiest way to do this is to have past information on your customer and utilizing this to get the acceptance -- the “yes,” the seal on the deal.
For example, if selling to a company that is looking to connect with younger customers you want to ask, "How does increasing youth traffic into your store sound? Good? Then let me show you what I have to offer." First, you were aware of a goal of the company, and secondly, all businesses are looking to increase traffic. Right there you already have the company agreeing with what you are about to pitch.
Remember to loop back.
A lot of people tend to think the more information, the better; if you tell the customer every single thing about what you are selling, there is no way he or she can say no. The truth is, the customer is only going to latch onto a few of your points, so your goal should be to give him or her the main benefits that YOU have identified -- you should not steer away from these benefits.
When you are getting further into your sale, do not add on more information. The customer may not like what you say and a challenge could arise from it. Instead, loop back to what you used earlier on in your pitch, which hooked the customer and moved him or her further into your plan.
Enhance your relationship.
Selling is about maximizing the benefits you already possess. If you have a rapport with your client, utilize this. Just because you are in a meeting or any sales scenario does not mean you have to move straight to business.
Ask how his or her kids are doing; did his or her daughter make it into university? How is his or her dad doing? It sets a light mood, letting the customer know it’s not all about the deal; it’s about the relationship. No one wants to jump right into a stressful business decision, so show the customer that you care and talk about something that makes him or her happy.
All of a sudden, you went from someone the customer has no time for, to this person who has shown care for more than a sale. Be prepared; everyone has a lot of things going on in life and for some reason, it really takes people by surprise if you show genuine interest unexpectedly. So, when you are first beginning your sale, do not just jump into things. Utilize your relationship with the person and set the mood for what is to come.
Be prepared with a close.
The way you end things with a customer is crucial because when it comes down to it, your close is everything. There are plenty of different ways to close a sale, but that may be for another piece. What is important in this tip is to know when to close. Judge how the sale has been going and where you have positioned your customer.
Maybe ask a close-ended question and as the customer is locked into a yes, close with your offer. Just know that when you close, and you get the yes, it’s time to stop selling. Finalize what you came for, but do not add anything else. Minimize the possibility that he or she will challenge again. If the customer said yes, you have closed.
Showcase your passion.
To sum these tips up, selling takes practice, but it also takes the ability to demonstrate passion. No one will buy from or agree with someone who does not look like he or she believes in his or her product. Engulf yourself in what you are selling and the rest should eventually come naturally.
Top Photo Courtesy: SellingBound/Boiler Room