Most of us cringe when we get a sales call or anticipate our next trip to the car dealership. The words “selling” and “sales” are often associated with stress, high pressure, and spending a lot of money, but it doesn’t have to be that way!
A sale can and should be educational, build a relationship, and be worthwhile for both you and your customer.
Not everyone is a natural born salesperson, but if you run a business, it’s a skill you need to have. If you weren’t born with that talent, here are some tips to help you make your next sale:
Know your product
We’ve all heard that “knowledge is power”, so the first step to being able to sell your product is to know it inside and out. Being knowledgeable about your services has multiple benefits, including giving you the confidence to talk about what you’re offering, presenting the benefits in a way your customer can relate to, and being able to offer advice when necessary.
Ever notice that the 3rd pitch you make is more likely to close than the 1st pitch you make? You’ll never improve any skill without practice. Try "selling" your service to someone you know first, like a family member or friend who isn't familiar with the ins and outs of your industry. Chances are, they'll ask some questions you may not have anticipated. This exercise will prepare you for similar questions in the future, and help you keep your mind open when a potential customer asks a question or has a concern you may not expect.
Educate and Build Trust
Build trust by listening to your customer's needs and wants. We’re so used to being "sold to" in the negative sense, that when you actually take the time to figure out what your customer is looking for, rather than just pushing the highest priced service, they'll be impressed.
Once you’re familiar with what your potential customer needs and wants, educate them by giving them everything necessary to make an informed decision, not just the advantages.
Don’t use scare tactics to convince them to buy. The goal is to inform customers and guide them to make a good choice. This isn’t to say you should avoid sharing your opinions, but don't try to intimidate them into buying. In this article by the Harvard Business Review, Scott Edinger, author of The Hidden Leader, says that your goal should be “to work in collaboration” with your customer.
If your client can tell that you're looking out for their best interest, it goes a long way in building trust. They'll come to know you as an expert in your field, view you as a trusted advisor, and return to you with questions, their business, and hopefully referrals.
Sell to existing and past customers
How often do you give a company repeat business because you already know and trust them or because it's easier than doing the research to find someone new?
It’s much easier (and less expensive) to make a sale to an existing customer than to gain a new one [source]. So, rather than spending all of your time and money trying to acquire new business, take a look at your existing client list too!
Use technology to your advantage with strategic email campaigns and reminders. Keeping the line of communication between you and your customers open is a key part of getting repeat business. You'll stay top of mind and be the first one they contact when they need more help.
As we mentioned before, a sale can and should be worthwhile for everyone involved. Keep these tips in mind next time you’re facing a potential sale and you’ll have a loyal customer in no time!