Learning to sell well opens doors for all levels of people within an organisation; from CEO to the sales team, making it possible for a business to not only excel, but also thrive. Thousands of articles and books have been written on selling, and almost every one of them contains one or more nuggets of wisdom. Some are classics that convey ideas, techniques and strategies that salespeople can use in almost any market.
Three imperatives for building superior sales performance:
Sales Imperative #1
The Iron-Triangle of Selling
There are three steps to sales success that have stood the test of time: prospecting, presenting and closing. They form the three points of the “iron triangle” of selling.
To prospect effectively, you and your sales team must first clearly determine what it is your company is selling. Most people only define their product or service in terms of its qualities, characteristics, features and the way it is produced, distributed and delivered to the customer.
However, the most important part of your product description is what the product does for your customer. People don’t buy products or services; they buy the results (or ’benefits’) they expect to experience by using your product or service. You must therefore determine what your product or service really does for your customers. Find out what makes your product superior to other products or services. Only then are you ready to tackle the three key steps to sales success:
Of all the prospects in your market, which can benefit most from what your product does better than the competition? The rule is that although there are many prospects, they aren’t all your prospects. You must be specific about which prospects you can sell your most important benefits to the most effectively.
The ability to design and give a good sales presentation will determine your success as much as any other factor. Based on more than 30 years of experience, I can say every sales presentation could use some improvement.
A good presentation shows prospects that your product or service is the best choice for them. After highlighting a feature of your product or service that’s relevant to the customer, ask a question to invite feedback, such as: “Is this something you would use in your situation?” If you’ve given a good presentation, the prospect should fully understand the offering and be ready to make a buying decision. If you don’t get this reaction at the end of your presentation, rework your presentation until it is so overwhelmingly conclusive that the sale almost falls into your hand at the end.
It is absolutely amazing how many sales are lost because the salesperson fails to follow up and ask for the order at the end of the sales conversation. The best way to close a sale is to set up the closing question with the words: “Do you have any questions or concerns that I haven’t covered so far?”
If the prospect says no, you can then ask for the sale: “Well, then, why don’t you give it a try?” If the prospect is unsure, say: “I really think this would be ideal for you, based on what you’ve told me. Why don’t you give it a try?” You will be amazed at how many people are on the verge of buying and simply need an invitation.
Sales Imperative #2
Understand How The Game Has Changed
In recent years, the field of selling has changed dramatically. During the boom of the 1990s, individuals and organisations were producing and selling products and services hand over fist. There was demand and an enormous amount of money chasing after products and services in almost every field.
Many salespeople who began their careers in the early ’90s never learned how to sell because it wasn’t necessary. It was a seller’s market. As a result, most salespeople became professional order-takers. They followed up on leads, collected cheques and came back to the office feeling like heroes. In today’s uncertain economic landscape, there are more sellers than buyers. There are more companies offering products and services than there are people with money to buy them. Times may be tough, but the fact is that cycles and trends are a natural part of life. Markets go up, and markets go down. This is normal, and we need to adjust to it when it happens.
Sales Imperative #3
Being In The Top 10%
1. Learn to Focus
To succeed in selling today, your sales team must focus more narrowly on the few prospects who are the most likely to buy what you sell. You have to define your ideal prospects more clearly and separate high probability prospects from low probability prospects.
But before you’re able to focus your selling, you must prepare. The more thoroughly prepared you are, the more and better sales you will make. There are three steps to preparation. First, do some pre-call research. Learn everything you possibly can about your prospects before you call on them for the first time. This will help with building your credibility. Next, set your pre-call objectives. Know your goals, and write down any questions you need to ask.
Lastly, perform post-call analysis. Always write down every detail discussed in the sales call immediately after leaving the prospect; don’t rely on your memory or the sales report forms you fill out at the end of the day. The next time you visit this prospect, review your detailed notes from earlier conversations. This three-step process of preparation will thoroughly equip you with the tools necessary to build high levels of credibility and trust with your prospect throughout the sales process.
2. Concentrate on your best prospects
Once your team has identified your most important prospects it’s time to dedicate all your energy to the top 20%of prospects in your market who account for 80%of your sales. In the 1990s, it was easy to hit prospects all over the place without really trying. But today the market has changed, and to win you must concentrate your energies carefully on those few customers who can make a significant difference in achieving your sales quota.
3. Commit to forward action
To succeed in sales today you and your team must be in continuous motion, always looking for new and better prospects, both in your traditional markets and in markets you may not have thought of in the past. The more approaches you try, the greater the probability you’ll try the right thing at the right time to make the kind of sale you really want to.
For this reason, nothing is more important in a tough market than your commitment to continuous forward action, to calling on more and better people every single working day. You should spend about 80% of your time prospecting until you have so many customers that you don’t have enough time to handle more.
If your sales force (or career if you’re a sales person) is going more slowly than you would like at the moment, step on the accelerator of your own potential and rev up the number of people that you see and talk to on a daily and weekly basis. The good news is, the faster you move, the more energy you will have. The more energy you have, the more people you will see and the more experience you will get. And the more experience you get, the better you will become at selling when you finally come across the ideal prospect for your product or service.
Because of this action orientation, you’ll make more sales and, as a result, get more positive feedback. This will motivate you to make even more calls on even more prospects and close even more sales in the weeks and months ahead. Over the years, good times come and go. The economy booms, and the economy recedes. But the sales organisations that practice these six essential principles day in and day out, no matter what may be happening around them, will always find success. You can do the same.
Why Every Business Needs A Call Centre
Below are just some of the reasons why every business needs a call centre.
As a business owner, you are likely always looking for something to put you ahead of the competition. This could be anything from a new marketing strategy to an exciting product. But many companies do not think of call centres when it comes to boosting their business and putting themselves ahead of the competition.
A call centre allows you to interact with consumers. If you do not have the staff for it in-house you can outsource for premium call centre quality assurance to ensure customer satisfaction. You will be able to provide stellar customer service as well as collect data from the calls to improve your business. Still not convinced? Below are just some of the reasons why every business needs a call centre.
They help to build customer loyalty
Having a call centre does more than allow you to answer the complaints and queries of customers. It will help to build up customer loyalty, especially if you choose to outsource your contact centre management.
While online shopping has grown immensely over the years, many consumers still want to be able to phone in and ask questions about products that are not working, that are damaged or for advice on how to remedy a problem with their purchase. A call centre will provide confidence to consumers that your company is there to help and provide trusted advice, which will, in turn, improve their loyalty to your brand.
You can get to know your audience
By having a call centre that allows you to interact with consumers on a one-on-one basis, you will be learning valuable information about who your customers are. And because you will be monitoring every call, you can ascertain the demographics of your audience.
For example, you might find that several calls are coming in from one area, which will allow you to focus your marketing strategies to that geo-location. Or you might notice that a certain product is bringing in similar complaints. This information will allow you to make important changes to the product. This data will help you to get to know your audience and tailor your products, services and messages to their needs.
They help to avoid lost sales
Quality assurance is vital to the success of your customer support. This is because a call centre will help to avoid lost sales and lead opportunities. Instead of relying on a voicemail service (which consumers will likely not use) your call centre will allow consumers to speak directly to a helpline, which will encourage them to buy from your brand.
For those who have a small amount of staff, outsourced contact centre services will provide a shorter wait time for call centre queues. Lost sales can be disastrous to a company of any size, so investing in a call centre will help to remedy this. If consumers are not waiting in long phone queues, they are likely to make a purchase or use your services. And leads will become conversions because consumers will feel valued and satisfied.
You will have an edge on the competition
In the world of business, everything is cutthroat. If your competitors have a number for consumers to call in case of any issues and you do not, it is likely that they will choose your competitor over you.
An effective way to beat the competition is to provide a call centre number to your customers as well as office numbers. This way they can call the customer support number for product related issues and the office number if they would like to speak to managers or make business deals. If you outsource your call centre management, you are sure to have a leg up on the competition. Consumers want to feel as though their voices are being heard and taken seriously.
Related: The Future of Call Centre Design
It is professional
Whatever the size of your business, remaining and appearing professional to business partners and consumers is important. Having a call centre that gives a customised greeting to consumers and sends them through to an agent will make it appear as though you are an established company doing business with many customers.
Professional customer service is vital for the success of any company, especially if you are a start-up. And if you are a larger company, try not to become complacent with the customer service you are already offering. If consumers can phone in with queries and compliments, they will have trust in your brand’s professionalism, leading to customer loyalty and more sales.
Be future facing
Anyone who runs a business knows how important it is to look toward the future. And having a call centre can help with this. It will help to build up customer loyalty, you will learn more about your consumers and your audience, you will avoid lost sales and you will have an edge on the competition.
Wow Them World Class With This Customer Service Myth
Without fail, every single business says that one of their differentiators is customer service. When was the last time you were wowed? Most businesses don’t walk their talk. Which means if you get service right, it really can be a differentiator.
Customer loyalty is earned by being great, not satisfactory. Aim to be exceptional in your business. Deliver world-class customer service. Service that’s better than anyone else in your industry. That’s how you become great, and how you attract loyal customers. You have set yourself apart from the competition.
Let’s say you own a plumbing business — Plumb Rite. Set out to provide prompt, efficient service, with friendly workers who can explain the service they offer, and deliver quickly, well and affordably.
Satisfactory Is Not Good Enough. Be World Class!
Be remarkable. When you finish repairing a leak, you want your customers to go, “Wow, how good were those guys!”
Remember your customers’ names and where they live. Give them discounts, or free services where it’s warranted. Meet them in person and explain repairs to them.
While you should be aware of your competition, don’t simply replicate what they do. Maybe they’re terrible. Rather provide the best customer service you possibly can. Being satisfactory means you’ll be part of the bunch. Rather be great and stand out from the herd.
First, consider what customer service actually means. Do you make the lives of your customers easier? Too many businesses make the sale, and then move on. True customer service has a long-term outlook.
Once you’ve efficiently handled a customer’s business and sent her on her way with a smile and a friendly greeting, your work is not yet done.
Part of serving her needs is following up and making sure that everything is in order, after the sale is complete. After all, you are building a LASTING customer relationship.
Let’s say you run a camping store selling essential gear to the camping and outdoor community. A woman named Tumi comes into your store. She’s not really into camping, but she needs a tent.
You enquire what she needs a tent for and learn that there’s a music festival coming up in Mpumalanga this weekend. There are no chalets available, so camping is the only option. She needs a tent.
You recommend a leisure tent, help her pick the right colour, give her a brief tutorial on how to put it up and send her on her way. This is an awesome opportunity to follow up with some after-sales service once she returns from her camping weekend.
This is go-the-extra-mile time
Give Tumi a call the next week and — as professionally as possible — ask how she enjoyed her tent. Was she able to put it up without too much trouble? Was it warm enough? None of the zips malfunctioned?
This emphasises that customer service comprises service before the sale, during the sale, and after the sale.
Some other opportunities for good after-sales service:
- A travel agent following up with a client during and after their holiday ensure everything went according to plan.
- A butcher recommends a cut of meat to a customer. The next time he comes in, the butcher asks, “How was that kudu steak you bought last time?”
- Cross-selling once you’ve made a sale. A parent brings their child into Toy Kingdom. You remember you’ve sold them an Elsa Frozen dress. “How about these lovely Frozen slippers to go with your Elsa dress?”
- An automated SMS to thank customers once they pay their cellphone account.
More than anything, following up shows you care. You want your customer to be satisfied more than you want her money. We’re also building a relationship that’s going to outlast this single transaction. Good after-sales service drives word-of-mouth recommendations and helps set you apart from your competition.
5 Signs Your Customers Have Questions You Aren’t Answering
You may be causing confusion somewhere in the customer journey. And confused customers don’t buy.
When you come to my website, the first thing you see is me, a description of what I do and a button that encourages you to click on it. There are no surprises, no guessing where you should go next. I’ve laid it all out right in front of you.
Not all businesses make things this clear. Some have too much clutter on their homepage, overwhelming visitors with information. In fact, 75 percent of consumers polled in research by Stanford said that they judged a company’s credibility by its website design.
Such lack of clarity doesn’t apply just to websites. This could be a problem in your emails, your sales process, even your physical stores. And a lack of clarity is troubling, because it confuses your customers, and confused customers don’t want to buy from you.
You need to make sure your business is focused on ensuring a positive experience. That means making sure no customer question is left unanswered.
Not sure if your business is suffering from a lack of clarity? If you recognise any of these five signs, there’s a good chance your customers are confused.
1. Your website stats seem off
We tend to assume that most people know what to do when they come to a website. But if your website is unorganised or cluttered, customers may not know where to go when they get there.
Maybe the customer wants to call you, but your contact information is buried. Or maybe he or she wants to purchase a product directly off your site, but the checkout process is too clunky.
If something on your website is off, your stats are going to show it. You’ll probably see a lot of visitors but not a lot of return visitors, and the amount of time they spend on your site may be low.
So, how do you fix it? Go through your website with a fine-toothed comb. Have someone unfamiliar with your site go through it and give you feedback. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and look at the site from their perspective. How can you make their experience on your site as smooth as possible?
Related: How To Win Trust And Wax Sales
2. The customer is indecisive
When customers are in the decision phase, you want to do everything you can to seal the deal and push them along with their decision. If they’re waffling or can’t seem to make that decision, there’s something wrong.
It could be that they don’t have all the information they need. If they’re confused about something, it’s your job to set their mind at ease. Make sure you’re open with your customers, and offer help with any questions or concerns they might have. FAQs, live chat options, videos and product resource pages can help tremendously here.
3. The customer doesn’t know how to use the product
Is there one question that keeps coming up again and again from your customers? If you’re constantly getting the same question about your product or service, the answer needs to be clearer.
Customers shouldn’t have to call in to your support team for simple issues. You need to make it easy for customers to use your products and services. That means offering to help set things up for them and properly onboarding and training them in your product’s use. The more you can prepare your customers and anticipate their needs, the more satisfied they’ll be.
4. The customer is complaining
According to a survey by American Express, seven out of ten consumers in the United States have spent more money to do business with a company that offers great service. Excellent customer support is key to the success of your business, and without it, customers will be unhappy.
When customers are unsatisfied with the level of service they’re receiving, you’ll hear about it. If you’re getting a lot of complaints or seeing a lot of product returns, there’s probably something wrong.
To avoid getting an earful, you need to get to the root of the issue and find out the cause of your customers’ unhappiness. Is it your customer service team? Slow shipping times? Or something deeper? You may be causing confusion somewhere in the customer journey.
5. Sales are down
If you aren’t selling, something is wrong. It’s as simple as that. If sales are consistently on a decline, you need to go back and find out where the problem is.
Customers want to know what they’re getting into when they make a purchase. You need to make it clear what you offer, why customers should buy from you and how exactly they can go about buying.
The key here is clarity. Customers aren’t going to jump through hoops to purchase your product. You need to guide them through the sale by ensuring their questions are answered before they’ve even asked them.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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