Selling products or services to your customers is a multi-faceted operation. Far from being a straightforward process, the role of a salesperson is to get that sale over the finish line despite any opposition or uncertainty you might initially face. What sets apart a great salesperson from an average one, is someone who can respond to every such challenge with ease – or at least appear to do so in front of the customer.
After all, if you don’t achieve a sale two things happen. Firstly, whether that customer spent their money with a competitor or not at all, that’s still money that could have gone to the company’s increasing turnover. Secondly, your reputation as a salesperson loses credibility. For whatever reason, there was a flaw in your sales tactic. Whether this came down to targeting the wrong demographic or even a lack of enthusiasm in your pitch – there’s always something to be learned from the experience that you could have done better.
Think of sales as a teeter-totter. It’s a balancing act that tos and fros between you and your customer. Understanding why your customer left you hanging in the air this time can really sharpen your skills as a salesperson. In fact, it’s the very thing that will improve your repertoire more than anything, because you are able to quash any uncertainty your customer raises that would normally have resulted in them walking away from the sale, the next time this happens to you.
If you are looking to finesse your sales strategies, here are 5 techniques that will make you nail your next sale.
1. Believe In Yourself
Starting with the most obvious point which ironically most people lack – you must 100% believe in yourself to be successful in sales. Think about it, if you don’t completely believe in your ability to sell something then this will come across in the way you deal with the customer. You will accept objections as finite answers, instead of having the confidence and the ability to work around them to create them, to transform them into actual sales.
Believing in yourself is key, because as a salesperson, it’s very important that the ball remains firmly in your court. Otherwise you will simply hear “no” all day and never move past it. A once promising and lucrative career will soon be over because you aren’t bringing in any profit to the business. But, it doesn’t have to be this way! By having absolute confidence in what you do (even if you have to fake it until you make it) this will be reflected in your customer interactions too.
For example, your customer tells you your product is bad and they don’t want it. Don’t just accept that as a final answer! Be confident and demonstrate otherwise. If the product has recently won an award, or is trusted by 100,000 others – let them know! It’s a sales pitch after all. If you’re not sure how to build your confidence, then take the time to learn from others either through reading books or watching videos. Develop a strategy that works best for both your personality and the type of products you are selling to maximize the potential of both.
2. Be Assertive
Scenario: You offer a customer a deal on your products but they say it’s “too expensive”. The word ‘expensive’ can have so many meanings depending on the person. The key is to be assertive in your response. Doing so can turn what seemed like an impassable barrier for your customer into reasoning where worry once stood. For example, is the package you’ve selected too pricey, but you can offer them a cheaper one? Or, does your product appear expensive but actually when you break down the costs to the customer, you can demonstrate the incredible value that wasn’t immediately apparent?
When you are assertive, your first question would be “why do you think that?”, or “what are you currently paying for the same service?”, as by identifying the reason behind the apprehension, you are much better armed to reason with the customer to convince them otherwise. In some cases, it might even be a simple test by the customer to see if you are likely to negotiate your prices, so don’t treat initial rejection as a nail in the coffin. By challenging your customer’s negative response in an assertive way, you are much more likely to get a positive result.
However, when it comes to being assertive in general, it goes without saying that you should do your market research. If your competitor is doing a better deal, then offer to match or beat their price when this point is raised by a customer. After all, when weighing up a slight dent in your profit margin compared to no profit at all, which one would cost your company the biggest hit? By offering at least some degree of flexibility, you have a much greater chance of locking in that sale. In comparison, a lack of assertiveness such as a firm no from you on the price, will likely result in the same response from your customers too, unless you can convince them otherwise by demonstrating your USP.
3. Pre-empt your top sales challenges
So your customer has told you they “already have a provider” or that they “aren’t interested right now.” The first step would be to pre-empt your top sales objections so you are best equipped to respond to them. For example, you could respond with an open-ended question, such as “What do they give you for the price you pay?” this will immediately open up room for negotiation, as you will be surprised how many people will either not know, or actually reveal their dissatisfaction at the service they are receiving, but it seemed like too much of a hassle to switch to a different provider. At this point, you can come in and reassure them that you’ll take care of all that ‘hassle’ for them. Remember, the less effort involved for the customer, the more likely they are to jump ship from your competitors. This removes yet another potential costumer excuses for not buyingat the same time!
If you’ve done your market research (and pre-empted your top sales objectives), you’re going to be well aware of what they are and how to counteract them ahead of time. It’s a good idea to also offer some incentives, especially if your prices or product are very similar to rival brands. The more tools you employ to get the sale over the finish line, the more likely you are to win the race and leave your competitors in the rearview mirror behind you.
Regardless of the type of excuse of not wanting to buy you are up against – streamlining your sales pitches and overall marketing with the right people is absolutely key. Otherwise, you’re wasting time and money talking to the wrong people. Know your customer’s typical arguments for not wanting to buy, in advance, and practice your response so it can be delivered faultlessly to the customer. The more you are able to turn the situation around, the more conversions you can create from what at first seemed like a definite rejection from the customer.
4. Choose the right time to pitch
Even if your customer is in the market for the product or service you offer, if you contact them at a really inconvenient time, you are going to receive the “I don’t have time” response or even “I’m not interested.” This is not what any company wants because it simply frustrates the customer, getting you even further away from that all-important sale.
While it does go hand in hand with your marketing strategy, contacting your customers about the right things at the right time is a basic principle that often goes amiss. If you find your customer is too busy to talk, then the first port of call would be to ask when a more convenient time would be to contact them. If they are free and are expecting you, they are a lot more likely to be receptive. You can also try following up with them through different means such as a physical letter or brochure.
Don’t forget digital sales techniques too. If you are contacting customers at inconvenient times over the phone, why not create an email or social media campaign instead? With social media, in particular, it’s a commodity people are most likely to use when taking a break from work or other pressing engagements. So, it turns the situation from you effectively saying “please look at my product right now” to the customer saying “hey look at this product, I’ve heard about this!” By handing back some of the control to the customer, it’s a much easier way to get a foot in the door.
5. Positive Body Language
Sales can be an aggressive industry. After all, we all have competition and targets to hit. The problem lies when you let this show through negative body language or even a sharp tone of voice. All that communicates to your customer is that you are really desperate to make a sale. Ultimately, that kind of presentation is unlikely to achieve long term customer retention – if they even sign on the dotted line at all.
So, as basic as this sounds it’s important to breathe and relax. Take a look at yourself in the mirror and release tension from your shoulders. Whether greeting customers in person or even over the phone be confident and assertive, but also positive and outgoing. Sure, it’s your 100th sales call of the day and you’ve had flat rejections up to now (if so, read above to see where you are going wrong!) but that doesn’t mean it should show in your voice or body language.
Regardless of whatever you are trying to sell, the more you make the customer feel like a friend, the more likely it is you will instill trust in them. It’s not about going overboard either, but a relaxed posture, calm but assertive tone of voice and open body language can go a long way. Remember to always smile and be upbeat about what you are selling. Emphasize the positives in the product or the deal and ensure this translates with how you present yourself as a salesperson too.
Top tips for sales success:
- Don’t be too transparent
Instead of asking a company “Do you need marketing for your business?”, try sending an email saying “I noticed your social media posts had some spelling errors and the image was sideways. Here’s something I did for a similar customer that scored them a huge ROI and gained them lots of new followers. Feel free to get in touch if you’d like me to take a look at your page for you. Maybe we could go for a coffee and discuss it some time?”
- Use open-ended questions
The goal with sales is to avoid yes or no answers to your initial question because when it’s a no (as it often will be when you are selling something out of the blue) it leaves nowhere else for the conversation to go. An alternative would be to pose a question that sparks curiosity, such as “Are you fed up with cleaning your apartment with the little time you have when you get home from work?” which creates a scenario in the customers’ mind. Compared with “Do you need a cleaner?” it gives the conversation much more potential to develop into a sale.
- Be genuine
Finally, it’s important that you build a relationship based on trust with your customers. If you aren’t genuine and sell your customer something that for whatever reason is unsuitable, it’s unlikely to generate a long term relationship. If your customer does come back unsatisfied, then treat them the same as you would a new customer. This is an area where many companies fail, even though it’s more expensive to gain new customers than retain your current ones.
Mastering how to best respond to your costumer’s top arguments you will face from your customer is what sets a great month of sales apart from a dismal one. While it can be a challenge to navigate through, by practicing some simple yet essential sales techniques, this can really help turn the situation around in your favor.
It’s a good idea to note down every reason you came up against the customer as to why they initially objected to your product or service. That way, you can identify patterns and trends and refine your company response as a whole. Ultimately, it’s about understanding your customers to best respond with an answer that will open up the dialogue, and change their initial perception about what you are offering them. By implementing some basic sales techniques, you can turn bad excuses into conversions and improve turnover as a result.