Sales is a centuries old game, but there are some simple tactics which are often forgotten and could see your business keep ahead of the ball game.
SmartCompany had a chat to leading sales experts Trent Leyshan, Sue Barrett, Petar Lackovic and Liz Atkinson about how sales has changed and what businesses need to remember when it comes to selling:
1. Know your customer
Experts agree it’s fundamentally important in sales for the salesperson to know their customer.
Founder of Barrett Consulting Group, Sue Barrett, believes salespeople must try and see the world through multiple perspectives in order to better understand their prospective customers.
“Businesses tend to forget the customer and only train the sales team to understand their products, rather than to see the world from their customer’s perspectives and understand their goals. They tend to look at the world through one lens,” she says.
Petar Lackovic from the National Sales Academy says the modern-day consumer is different to the consumer of the past.
“You need to consider what angle the customer is coming from. We live in the age of the world wide web now and some people are more educated in the product than the salesperson. The perception has changed about why people buy, people don’t like to be sold to and you’ve got to be a solution to that person’s problem,” he says.
Founder of international sales company BOOM!, Trent Leyshan says the game has changed.
“There is nothing worse than speaking to someone you really want to buy from and they give you nothing, we’ve all been in situations where the salesperson isn’t really aware of our interest.
“You need to establish a relationship with your customer and realise people want to be given things that ad value, bang for your buck. People will always pay for value and now they are more educated and aware.”
2. Build trust
Trust is fundamental to every relationship and if you want to be a successful salesperson it’s particularly important.
Lackovic says establishing trust between you and a potential customer is crucial.
“People don’t just volunteer information, you’ve got to build trust and lower their resistance levels.”
He draws on a personal example from when he was recently shopping for board shorts. Citing a common mistake retail salespeople make, the lady serving him insisted that every pair of shorts he tried on looked fantastic. An experience all shoppers have had at some point. He says this kind of behaviour automatically increases the buyer’s resistance as they feel they’re being lied to.
There are two keys things to remember he says: “buyer resistance versus buyer acceptance”.
“If resistance is high, acceptance is low.
“People try to win you over too quickly, but you have to lower a buyer’s resistance before winning their acceptance,” Lackovic says.
He says it’s important for businesses to apply this principle to all types of communication, not just face-to-face.
“You need to consider what you’re saying in an email or over the phone or in a text message too and think ‘is it raising resistance?’
It’s necessary, he explains, to break down the ‘persona’ of a salesperson.
“You need to change the thought process of who you are as a salesperson, instead of launching into a pitch, consider asking ‘can you help me for a minute?’”
Liz Atkinson, founder of marketing company Zest Possibilities, told SmartCompany building trust is important not only between a customer and the salesperson, but trust in the brand. This, she believes, can be achieved through creating a consistent company image.
“The person I look for is fun, confident and driven with a goal to succeed. I understand this, so we project this type of image across the company in every way possible to sell it! From the music we play, the magazines we have sat in reception to how our administrators meet and greet people, we keep the message consistent.
“This allows the company to build a relationship immediately with anyone that comes into contact with us, and this message never changes which keeps trust and builds loyalty,” she says.
3. Strategise and organise
Careful planning and strategising helps to maintain efficiency and consistency in a workplace and our experts said it helps to boost your sales too.
Lackovic says it’s “all about systems and strategies”.
“You’ve got to have a process for the sale, too many people wing it. You need a process that’s fitting to your personality, but it needs to be able to be replicated, then if it’s not working, you know what to fix.
“It’s all about the replication of the systems. You can have an average person in a good system and it makes them good or a good person in a great system and it makes them great. This way you’re not handcuffed by your staff. With a process, you can hire for personality and attitude and skill in the product can be trained,” he says.
Leyshan says further that businesses need a sales strategy that works as a “blueprint”.
“Companies need a capability framework with skills that become the blueprint. Sales processes should be simple and they need the right development and training. The strategy also needs to be quantifiable with a high level of measurement,” he says.
Equally he believes more time should be dedicated to preparation.
“One of the areas that a lot of people underestimate is preparation – dare to prepare – I challenge people to over prepare. A busy salesperson is time poor, but taking some time to prepare will give you more time in the end. Take time out periodically to understand the customer’s emotive drivers, plan interviews and plan your day,” he says.
As well as a clear strategy, Barrett says it’s important to have staff in the right roles and to avoid time-wasting activities.
“Businesses tend to promote the best salesperson to a sales management role, but sales management and selling are two very different jobs. You need strong leadership and someone who can work through their people.
“The other thing is that people think to grow sales they have to make lots and lots of calls and you do, but you need to make the right calls. With people making a high volume of calls, you want to make sure they are quality,” she says.
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