I would hate to be known as a 'Salesman'. Yet I have products to sell.
I would be unhappy if people said 'she has the gift of the gab'. Yet I need to persuade people to buy my products.
I don't want to 'sell coals to Newcastle'. Yet I want to have the best sales figures.
I would like to share how I have found a way of being successful in selling my products; with sales rising month on month, without any of the above three statements applying to me.
16 months ago, I had no experience in selling, and I am still on a steep learning curve. But starting from scratch, I have now turned over £136,000 of products - average value £14.
I believe the principles for selling remain the same no matter what the cost of the product.
Here are my three main principles:
The best Salesmen don't sell - they communicate.
The best Salesmen don't sell - they initiate.
The best Salesmen don't sell - they facilitate.
1. Communication = Relationship
People buy from people. If people like a product but not the Salesman, they will shop somewhere else.
Good communication is key. Ideally the first communication should be the Salesman taking an interest in the customer. Greeting warmly; asking general authentic questions; listening intently. Seeking out clues to the customer’s personality, lifestyle and needs and therefore knowing the way forward into introducing the product or service on offer
For example, the conversation may show that the customer:
- Is very busy - does your product/service save time or have a feel good factor?
- Is needing more money/sales/income - does your product/service save them money? Eradicate the need to spend money? Or offer a means of making money?
- Is afraid of spending money, reluctant to change, or hesitant of purchasing your product or service - do you offer a money back guarantee? A free trial? Or a demonstration, training?
2. Initiation = Introducing a reason to buy
Initiation into the product or service on offer can be subliminal, it can be indirect or direct, as long as it's solving a problem or meeting a need.
- Introduce the benefits of the product not by giving facts but by telling a true story of how this product/service changed someone's life.
- Facts tell but stories sell!
- Use words that touch emotions. We buy with our emotions.
For example, instead of saying 'this product will cure spots... it would make the customer feel emotionally involved if you said; 'how would it feel to finally find a product that not only eradicated spots but nourished your skin?'
Or, instead of saying 'this service is better than your current provider' say 'would it help you if you had a provider that was less expensive and more effective'?.
Instead of giving facts about what your product does, ask questions that make them want them to say 'Yes'. - Yes I would feel better, happier, stronger, more self confident, less worried about money etc. etc.
3. Facilitation = aiding the sale or the after sale
Facilitation is the sign of a good Salesman. He doesn't grasp the sale then run. Facilitation is also where good relationships continue, bringing re-orders and/or referrals. Re-orders and referrals are the icing on the cake for a successful Salesman.
So what is Facilitation?
- Informing the customer of anything they need to know about the product/service or timescales.
- Making sure the product/service arrives when promised.
- Ensuring that information, training and advice are accessible.
- Keeping in contact with the customer with a 'customer care call' to check they are happy with their purchase, and rectifying any problems.
Whether we are buying a mobile phone, a pair of trousers, or a holiday of a lifetime, we buy with our emotions. 'How will this make me feel?' Therefore, emotional connection in our sales communication is vital to secure a healthy sale.
There is no healthy relationship without good communication and a good salesman will forge a relationship with clients and customers so trust is formed and re-orders and referrals become a natural welcome addition to constantly looking for new business.
To have good communication skills, the salesman needs to be self confident and use simple, effective language instead of trying to make himself appear knowledgeable using business jargon.
We also communicate non-verbally. When people first see us, they make snap decisions based on our body language, clothes, haircut, makeup, etc. You only get one chance to make a first impression and we often forget that this is the first communication we make.
It is easier to make a sale after a good 'first impression' than claw back their wrong first impression and persuade them otherwise.
We should look and sound congruent with our product/service. For example, I knew a man who was selling an 'Double your business in three months' mentoring service; enticing punters with the promise that he could make their business successful and make them rich within a year' - yet he was driving round in a battered 15 year old car, in a suit that was too long in the arms!
Conversely, I knew a very rich couple who own a local Post Office/Newsagent/general provision shop in a deprived area, who own a Rolls Royce but always drive a battered mini round town so as to appear appropriate to their customers'.
The clothes we wear are also a strong yet subtle form of communication. Certain colours can make us look sick or healthy, wealthy or poor, assertive or approachable.
So dressing to make our customers feel confident in our products and services is important to build trust.
A good visual example is that if you see a man in a white coat with a stethoscope over his shoulder, you are more likely to buy his medical products than if he was wearing a boiler suit! That is the confidence and belief in someone based purely on non-verbal communication.
In conclusion, my advice is to ensure you make a good first impression. Make your customers feel valued by taking an interest in them and building trust. Develop strong relationships through good communication skills. Initiate sales by meeting their genuine needs and facilitate them through the buying process and with excellent aftercare.
By Gayna Cooper, Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organisation’s membership exceeds 313,000 in more than 14,650 clubs in 126 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience. There are nearly 300 clubs in the UK and Ireland with over 7000 members. Find your local club. Follow on Twitter.