Selling – Back to Basics

From time to time, it’s worthwhile revisiting some of the basics of selling. Here are twenty-two things we should all remember during our everyday sales activity.

  • Develop a sales process from beginning to end. Know exactly how you are going to make a sale whether the potential customers come to you (i.e. retail) or you have to go out and meet them.
  • Selling is an act of negotiation between you and a potential customer. It is not advertising, promotion, or marketing.
  • Selling is based on relationships – sell yourself first, your company second and your product third. When was the last time you bought something from someone you didn’t like?
  • Look closely at the features of your product, or service, and the benefits it offers to potential customers. Your aim should be to match your product with a buyer who needs the benefits it offers.
  • Identify clearly who your absolute best customer will be – don’t try to sell to everyone (even if you can). Spend more time selling to better prospects.
  • Find prospects who want or need to buy what you have to sell. It’s pointless trying to sell to people who don’t need or don’t want what you are selling. It’s a waste of time and you don’t have time to waste. Selling is easy when you sell to people who want to buy. Prospecting is a vital part of selling – get it right and you will save time, and increase your success rate.
  • Qualify your buyer. Do they have the power to buy? Don’t know? Ask them! If they don’t, sell them on your product to the point they are willing to help you. Then, get them to help you reach the right person – the buyer, or decision-maker.
  • Know as much about your market and industry as you possibly can. The more you know, the more answers you will have and the more respected you will be.
  • Know your company – if someone asks you about your company, do you have the answers? Where do you stand on environmental issues within your industry, what about your approach to new technology, staffing issues etc.?
  • Know your product or service in depth. You may think you know it, but think about it from the buyer’s perspective. After briefly describing your product or service to someone, ask them if they understand it and would be in a position to buy it. Do they really understand it, or are they seeing it in a different way to you? Can they see problems you aren’t seeing?
  • Know your customer. Study them to the point of fully understanding their business, their market, their customers and their competition.
  • Know your competition. Don’t be caught knowing less about your competition than your customers do. Carry out a strengths and weaknesses analysis.
  • Know the weakness of your product and your sales pitch. Make a list of all the objections you could possibly face and detail how you will answer each one of them.
  • Plan each sales approach. What are you trying to achieve? Are you hoping for a sale, or just hoping to get to the next stage – perhaps making a presentation to a committee, or board? Knowing what you want out of each interaction with a prospect is important.
  • When making a sales presentation sell yourself first. Remember, it’s about them, not you. Discover what your potential customer is looking for. Match the features of your product or service to the benefits they are looking for. If you can’t, why carry on selling? Ask questions and listen more than you speak.
  • Make the sales presentation pleasurable and fun. Show a genuine interest in the welfare of the customer.
  • Be enthusiastic, it’s contagious.
  • The best close is just to ask for the order. If you have done everything right up to that point and they want and need what you have to sell, and they can afford it (or you make it affordable) then you should have the sale.
  • Thank them when you leave for their time and if they have made a purchase, thank them for the order.
  • Follow up each meeting with a note or an e-mail.
  • Never be affected by rejection. Nobody, not even the best sales person in the world, gets every sale. Leave on a positive note. Ask for a referral, and keep the door open. Be professional.
  • Review every contact with a potential customer, or existing customer. What did you right – what could you have done better?
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    Selling is actually simple, but we often make it more complicated than we need to. Reviewing these simple basics on a regular basis will prevent you from picking up those bad habits we all tend to find ourselves doing from time to time.