Dec 142011

Sales is a game – make sure you know the rules

Regardless of the type of business you’re in or the product or service you provide, everyone has to sell. Some people are born to sell but the majority of people have to work at it a little before success comes their way. From my experience as a salesman and also from watching people as a business coach here are a few things that I see all successful sales people doing when making a sale.

Listen to what the prospect is saying.

If you don’t listen to the prospect then you can’t hope to understand what it is they want or need. There’s an old adage that you have two ears and one mouth so use them in the correct proportion when sitting in front of a prospect; in other words ask them a question then shut up. Let them talk while you listen.

Build confidence.

One of the key things that stops people from buying is a concern that they will be seen to have done something foolish. That’s why people go for known brands – and why buying a franchise can be a great idea (even though you’re a new business you have an instant brand). There are two key ways to get over this issue. First, people want to know that others have bought from you in the past; this is called social acceptance ‘if others have bought and been happy with the product then I’ll be ok too’. So, show them testimonials from previous customers to prove to them that they are safe. Second, offer a guarantee. If a guarantee is offered then people immediately start to relax. Not only does it mean they have a way out of something goes wrong but it also demonstrates that you’re a worthwhile and honest provider.

Reflect back their issues.

Once you’ve listened to them explain their problem or need, turn their words around and reflect them back at them. Try to use the words and phrases that they used as this will help to build rapport. “So, David, let me just check I understand the problem; you need to update your office IT system but don’t have your own IT team so need some advice on how to upgrade and then you also need someone to run it for you. Is that correct?” If you’ve got it right they will nod and agree; if you’ve misunderstood they will correct you an you can reflect back again.

Only offer a solution at the end.

Once you’ve been through all the above and are absolutely certain that the prospect has finished should you offer a solution to their problem. You now have all the knowledge that you need, you have checked that you’ve read the situation correctly and so it should be easy to say with confidence how you can help them.

Ask for the sale.

Sounds crazy but this is the bit that’s missed by many people. They do all the hard work then simply fail to take the final step over the line. At the end of the discussion ask for the sale. If you’ve done it properly it will be easy for them to say yes.

If you’re going to run a business successfully then you’ve got to be making sales and making sales is all about helping people to overcome their problems. So, don’t think about it in terms of making a sale but in terms of helping someone. And it will all suddenly seem easy!