You’ve come up with a new product or service that you’ve spent months developing and testing and you approach your first customers. Don’t be surprised when you encounter your first objections. You can’t expect a prospective customer to just say yes to your product and hand over their money. It may happen with low value items but the higher the purchase price, the more hard work you need to put into the sale. Continue reading “How to handle objections when selling your new product or service”
In this economy selling is very important because each and every sale ensures the sustainability of your business. Just a few more extra sales could mean the difference between keeping your doors open or shutting them for good.
When you come up with your own product or service you need to know about selling because without sales you sadly won’t have a business. As the owner of a product or service, you will need to at least initially do the selling yourself because you know the most about your product or service.
Nothing happens in business until a sale is made. What this often repeated statement means is that a business can conceptualise a product or service, research, develop and trial it among prospects but the ultimate test of its success comes when a sale is made.
How are sales made? How does selling a loaf of bread different from selling a house, car or a large machine tool centre? How can you improve your personal selling no matter what you sell?
What is selling? You will come across many definitions of selling such as where a buyer exchanges cash for a seller’s product or service. The definition that makes the process clear and easy to understand is: personal selling is face-to-face selling in which a seller attempts to persuade a buyer to make a purchase.
This exchange satisfies a need, want or desire on the part of the buyer. A buying motive is the reason why a customer will purchase a product or service. Buying motives can be emotional or psychological such as the need for love and affection, curiosity, fashion, athletics, pride and prestige, sex and romance or fear. Rational buying motives could include economy (saving time or money), utility (usefulness), comfort and convenience, durability and security.
A problem-solving approach to personal selling views customers as having “problems” which they need to “solve”. This approach is effective because the sales person can adjust and individualise his or her presentation to the prospect’s specific problem. A problem-solving sales process is the basis of what is referred to as consultative selling. Using this approach, the salesperson helps the buyer reach a better decision.
Personal selling can be viewed as a process which has several definite steps:
- Prospecting (finding potential customers)
- Qualifying (are prospects likely to purchase and do they have the money?)
- Approaching the customer (for an appointment)
- Presentation (use of personal skills and demonstration to persuade the prospect)
- Closing the sale (leading the buyer to commit to a purchase).
For a large sale item such as a machine tool centre, computer system or jet, the sales process may take up to a year or longer. For lower value items such as stoves, outdoor leisure equipment and furniture, the sales process could take minutes.
Personal selling may have become more expensive because putting a salesperson on the road is costly but it remains vital to securing business in many markets.
Use creative techniques to generate ideas to increase your sales whether selling face to face, in print or on-line
We were in the market for a house and looked at several properties. Gail (not her real name), one of the real estate agents, showed us an attractive home but it had some disadvantages. She asked us to view the house a second time. While inside the kitchen we admired the spacious feeling and the view onto the garden. Then we became aware of another couple talking in the lounge. Suddenly we wanted the house more than ever. We put in an offer to purchase right away.
The real estate salesperson created urgency in her prospective buyers by creatively closing us. She increased buying pressure by bringing in another couple to view the house at the same time. She moved us rapidly from merely interested prospects to committed buyers desperate not to lose the sale.
Using your creativity as a sales person can help increase your sales in this economy. Knowing how to use creativity in selling can stop you leaving money on the table. Creativity in selling works not only for face to face selling but also in other forms such as in print or online.
How creative is your selling? We don’t mean creativity in the unsavoury sense of being devious or manipulative. Short-changing or deceiving a customer is not selling, it is dishonesty. Selling to be successful requires an exchange of value at an agreed price.
You can use your creativity to generate ideas for all phases of the sales process: understanding your customer, knowing your product or service, prospecting, qualifying, approaching the customer, presenting, closing the sale and after-sales follow-up and service.
Understanding your customer’s needs involves use of your creativity whether you are a kitchen table business owner or web entrepreneur. Who are your customers? Where are your largest prospects? What are their needs? Where will you find new customers for your product or service? Who will be your future customers? What motivates them to buy? You need to find out more about your customers and their needs. This requires creativity because you must come up with ideas to constantly stay in touch with your customer needs to grow your market.
Creativity is also required when you look at finding new uses for your products and services. In what ways are your customers using your product or service right now? What other ways could your product or service be used? What benefits of your products are most in demand and by whom? Needs change over time so you must keep current. How will you find out? What methods can you use to survey your customers?
Prospecting requires much creativity. How are you going to find out where your prospective customers are? What ideas can you come up with for generating leads? How much will leads cost you? What lead generation methods work best for your product or service?
Qualifying becomes very important in a tough economy – to increase sales and minimise your risk. If you don’t quickly qualify a prospect, you waste time and money. You need to know up front whether your customer needs your product and can afford it. What ideas can you use to quickly and effectively qualify prospects? Generate a list of questions you could ask prospects.
Presentations require creativity in providing proof of performance of your product or service. How can you sharpen your product or service presentation? Have you mastered the sequence of presenting benefits in your presentation? Do you have too many selling points, overwhelming your customer with detail? Are you able to switch from your presentation to a trial close immediately you sense a buying signal?
Handling objections benefits from creativity. Generate a list of your major objections for your products or service. Write down how you will handle each one. Make sure you have at least three answers for price in this economy.
Closing is arguably the most creative part of selling. How many closes do you have? Some top sales people have more than 25 closing techniques. How many do you have? You need at least 10 closes you can use at any time. You need to sharpen your closing because every sale you lose goes to your competition.
In this post we have mainly covered personal selling but remember that selling in print or on-line requires that you go through the selling process and determine how you can sharpen your sales process and offer (presentation). Instead of breaking your prospect’s preoccupation with a question such as in personal selling, you need to grab their attention with a headline that draws them into your sales letter, direct response ad or website copy. Closing is similar to conversion online so you need to be just as creative with various approaches to induce customers to buy from your website.
Whatever ideas you generate to increase your sales, make sure you test them. Some sales approaches work for years regardless of economic conditions or buyer behaviour. But make sure that your selling methods are up to date and effective.
Stay focused on creating value.
Founder of ideaaccelerator.co.za
PS To maximise your business work on increasing customers, total purchase value and frequency of purchase. Just imagine if you could come up with 25 ideas for all three areas – you would increase your sales and profits exponentially.