Your calls and follow-up efforts have paid off, and you have an appointment to visit a prospect in person and make a sales presentation. How can you make sure it’s a success? Remember these basics to any good sales call.
Before you start discussing business, build rapport with your prospect. To accomplish this, do some homework. Find out if you have a colleague in common. Has the prospect’s company been in the news lately? Is he or she interested in sports? Get a little insight into the company and the individual so you can make the rapport genuine. Tools like LinkedIn are great for this.
Don’t jump into a canned sales spiel. The most effective way to sell is to ask the prospect questions and see where he or she leads you. Of course, your questions are carefully structured to elicit the prospect’s needs — ones that your product just happens to be able to fill. So think about the three major selling points of your product or service. Develop intelligent questions to probe your customer’s reactions and needs.
Ask questions that require more than a yes or no response, and that deal with more than just costs, price, procedures and the technical aspects of the prospect’s business. Most importantly, ask questions that will reveal the prospect’s motivation to purchase, his or her problems and needs, and the prospect’s decision-making processes. Don’t be afraid to ask a client why he or she feels a certain way. That’s how you’ll get to really understand your customers.
Be sure to write down what you learn.
Don’t rely on your memory to remind you of what’s important to your prospect. This shows your prospect you are truly listening to what he or she is saying. In this way, you can specifically answer objections by showing how the customer will benefit from your product or service. It could be, for instance, by saving money, increasing productivity of the building space, or creating a safer building.
Learn to listen.
Salespeople who do all the talking during a presentation not only bore the prospect, but also generally lose the sale. A good rule of thumb is to listen 75 percent of the time and talk 25 percent of the time.
When you do speak, focus on asking questions. Ask questions; then shut up. You can improve your listening skills by taking notes and observing your prospect’s body language, not jumping to conclusions.
Don’t interrupt. It’s tempting to step in and tell the prospect something you think is vitally important. Before you speak, ask yourself if what you’re about to say is really necessary.
Answer objections with “feel,” “felt” and “found.”
Don’t argue with a prospect. Simply say “I understand how you feel. A lot of my present customers felt the same way. But when they found out how much time they saved by using our product, or how much usable space they gained they were amazed.” Prospects like to hear about other people who have been in a similar situation.
If a prospect tells you “We’re looking for cost savings and efficiency,” will you immediately tell him how your product meets his need for cost savings and efficiency? You could …. but a really smart salesperson won’t — he or she will ask more questions and probe deeper: “I understand why that is important. Can you give me a specific example?” Asking for more information — and listening to the answers — enables you to better position your product and show you understand the client’s needs.
Summarize your key selling points.
Now that you have collected all the information and issues important to your prospect you can talk briefly about your selling points. Of course, you will have to highlight and emphasize your solutions and product attributes that directly address the prospects areas of concern.
Close the sale.
There is no magic to closing the sale. If you have followed all the previous steps, all you should have to do is ask for the customer’s order. However, some salespeople make the mistake of simply not asking for the final decision. It’s as if they forget what their goal is.
For some, “closing” sounds too negative. If you’re one of them, try changing your thinking to something more positive, such as “deciding.” As you talk with the customer, build in the close by having fun with it. Say something like “So how many do you want? We have it in a rainbow of colors; do you want them all?” Make sure you’re leading them to make the decision.
Remember to stick to the basics.
Source: Start Your Own Business, Fifth Edition, published by Entrepreneur Press.
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Photo: Simon James, on Flickr