How does one define good salespeople? They are people who succeed not only in convincing their customers to buy, but also to do so from their company, at their prices and on their terms. And it’s far from being an innate talent. Here are a few tips to help you polish your sales skills.
Take notes during calls
For each customer, note all the information you can at each of your interviews: exact contact information, needs, purchase history, exact title, seniority in the company, assistant’s name, habits, personality, objections, budget, type of company, etc. During your next calls, you this will allow you to quickly recall the context and capitalize on your assets. Database software can help you keep detailed records.
Prepare for interviews
A well-prepared sales interview means that 50% of the work is already done. Take the time to study your contacts, know their needs, environment, objectives, motivation, and develop your strategy accordingly. Try to predict their reactions and objections and prepare tailored responses accordingly.
It’s not enough to wear a nice suit to become a salesperson, but it helps. Non-verbal communication is very important in negotiating. Pay attention to how you look, keep a reasonable distance between you and the customer and maintain a pleasant expression. The choice of environment is also capital—whether in person or over the phone, select a calm location and avoid all interruptions.
Also adapt to the business sector in which the sale takes place. Dress will not be the same in the arts, rural areas or finance.
Talk to the right person
Promoting your products to the administrative assistant is a waste of time. Ask to speak directly to the person authorized to make purchasing decisions. You can also try to convince a co-worker of the final decider, if you think that this person can have some influence.
Salespeople are known for talking and not listening to their customers. Buck the trend! If you take the time to listen to your customers, they will let you know how to sell them your product. Active listening involves being attentive and noting the information. It’s also about asking the right questions and being genuinely interested in the problems of the person you’re speaking to.
Mistakes to watch out for
According to a North American study, here are some of the reasons given for not dealing with a salesperson:
- Not following the company’s buying process (26%)
- Not listening to customer’s needs (18%)
- Not following up (17%)
- Being pushy, aggressive or not respectful (12%)
- Not explaining the solution objectively (10%)
- Making exaggerated or inaccurate claims (6%)
- Not understanding the company’s market (4%)
- Being too familiar (3%)
- Not knowing or not respecting the competition (2%)
Source: Harvard Business Review, July/August, 2006
- Don’t forget the following!
- Be on time
- Have all your documents
- Know your product inside out
- Know your customer
- Deal with the right person
- Prepare your sales pitch
- Be attentive
- Be directive
- Rephrase what the customer says
- Don’t badmouth the competition
- Be able to say no
- Don’t give discounts too quickly
- Close the sale