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I hear it all the time from business owners: “We have a great product or service but I just don’t know how to sell it. I hate sales!” Unfortunately for these entrepreneurs, selling is a necessary evil. Unless your product is so revolutionary that people are willing to line up at your door for it, you need to learn how to sell; otherwise, your days as a business owner are numbered.
How can someone who either hates selling or doesn’t know how to sell learn the fine art of getting customers to say yes? It starts with three simple steps:
Look at your business from your customers’ perspective. They don’t initially see the “features” of your product or service; they see the “benefits” of your product or service to them. Theodore Levitt, a Harvard marketing professor, used to tell his students, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!” If you approach selling to your customers in this manner, then what are the most common benefits of your product or service to them? If you’re not sure, ask some customers why they buy from you. They will be more than happy to tell you.
Paraphrasing a quote, “There are two types of salespeople that enter a room—the first one walks in and says, ‘Here I am!’ The second one walks in and says, ‘Ah, there you are!’” If you are uncomfortable with sales, the best and easiest approach is to be the second salesperson. Shine the spotlight on your customers and their needs. When you help them solve a problem or find the solution they sought, they will thank you, pay you money and hopefully become an advocate for your brand. If they have questions, answer them. If you don’t know the answer, let them know that you don’t want to give them misinformation and you will make it a priority to get back to them with the correct response. Selling is problem solving. Someone comes to you with a need or a problem; you provide the solution.
If you want increased sales without heavy lifting, the simplest and surest way to get there is by delivering the best possible customer service on the planet. Your credo should be “Happy Customers are the Best Customers.”
Problems arise with every product and service. How your company responds to those problems is critical to your sales success. As a customer, I will go out of my way to buy from people I know who put in the extra effort in making me feel like they really appreciate my business. When things go wrong, they make it right—without question. I then become their sales champion. I tell all my friends about their wonderful service or their terrific product. I feel good knowing that I’m delivering new business to a company that makes me feel like family. At that point, you are no longer selling. You’ve become a trusted advisor. I respect your work and your opinion. I trust you!
Selling can be an arduous task. Not everyone possesses the gift of gab and enjoys dealing with all kinds of people. If you struggle with picking up the phone, greeting potential customers or making presentations about your business, address your fears. Don’t worry about rejection—just know that it’s coming. It won’t kill you and it’s not personal. Believe in your product, focus the spotlight on your customers and deliver world-class customer service.
Photos from top: Thinkstock, iStockphoto
About the Author: Brian Moran, Publisher, At Home with Century 21 Magazine
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