Selling today might be more casual than ever before, but it’s still the most essential part of your business. As Michael Lewis aptly stated during his selling skills workshop here at the WWCFDC office, “without revenue, you just have an expensive hobby”. At the end of the day, it’s not enough to have your doors open daily or be engaged using social media, it’s about generating sales.
That said, the following are some of the steps Michael shared to help small business owners become better salespeople:
Be better prepared – Before you encounter a potential customer, you’ll want to be well acquainted with the features and benefits of your products and services. Online shopping makes it easy for a customer to shop around and you don’t want to underestimate what your customer already knows. Some won’t necessarily want or need specifics, depending on your industry, but the more info you’re prepared to provide, the better.
Establish trust – Initial contact with the customer is your chance to smile, use an approachable tone of voice, and create a powerful first impression. Some customers won’t feel comfortable buying anything until they feel like they know you. Whether it’s offering a friendly greeting upon entering your retail space or being genuinely enthusiastic, make the effort to generate positive customer perceptions.
Engage the customer – Start asking open-ended questions to determine what the customer needs. If you notice a customer is spending an extended time in your retail space, or seems to want a never-ending chat about the construction going on outside, gear your way towards business-oriented dialogue asking something like: “so what brings you to my business today?”
Diagnose needs & offer solutions – After discussing the needs of your customer, reiterate what you think the customer is looking for, and start recommending your business’ solutions by stating the benefits. Always consider that the customer operates on the “what’s in it for me” principle; essentially, you have to pitch considering incentives from their perspective.
Address objections – There will almost always be sales resistance, so pre-consider your response to typical concerns.
If the customer is concerned with:
Price: emphasize value or offer credit if possible.
Quality: support your value proposition by providing testimonials, product reviews, demonstrations, warrantees, and possible guarantees. Time: If the customer needs “more time to think about it”, assure them you understand, but ask if there is anything you can clarify further or what exactly it is they’re concerned about so you can refine your pitch.
Close the deal – If you’ve addressed the customer’s needs, you may never need to chase the sale because the customer will state their purchasing intentions; however, even after stating the benefits, you’ll likely have to ask if they’re interested in a purchase. Remember that silence is golden at this stage. You’ve pitched and now it’s the customer’s chance to take advantage (you don’t want to talk yourself out of a sale).
Overall, selling is the transference of enthusiasm; excitement about value makes you want in on the deal. Becoming skilled with the above steps, along with incorporating both follow-up and thanking your customers, will help you to increase sales in no time.