For a while I always thought you had to be made for sales and you either knew how to sell or you didn’t. However since escaping the warm, comforting environment of education into the ‘real world’ I’ve noticed that good sales techniques can be learned and even a non-sales person can in time become a selling superhero.
So if you’re new to sales you’re probably thinking where to start and how to approach your first prospect. With the following three tips you can be on your way to sales stardom.
Focus on your client’s needs
The biggest mistake a sales person can make is to try and sell their product or service from the start. Attitudes have changed and people like to feel as though the sales person wants to solve their problems and takes an interest in their business, not just looking for a quick sale.
The best method to capture their attention is to ask questions that help you understand their needs and their pain points. It should flow like a conversation so scripted questions are a big no no. Open-ended questions give you the best response as your prospect will give you a detailed description of their business –
“What’s not working for you with your current CRM system?” or “Can you tell me about your current sales process?”
You should ask as many questions as you need to and listen to them talk until you completely understand the way your prospects business operates, only then you can decide whether your product is a good match to solve their problems.
Sell benefits not features
If there’s one piece of advice that you’ll probably hear more than any is sell benefits and not features. Features have their place but it’s benefits that make the sale. If you’re not sure what the difference is here’s a couple of quick examples:
|A car has 55W halogen headlamp bulbs||You can see 30% further at night|
|Batteries are included with a torch||The torch is ready to use out of the box|
|A new smartphone has a 4.3” screen||A bigger screen means it is easier to view office documents and/or less zooming in on a webpage|
Why are benefits better? Mainly because they’re more persuasive than features. Take the halogen headlamp bulb for instance, why would a prospect care that a car has different bulbs? Without mentioning their true purpose the prospect may not see what they actually gain from the feature. You can always expand further too – ‘You can see 30% further at night so your family will be safer on the road’. The more you can break down the feature to find a specific benefit to your prospect will give you a much better chance of making the sale.
So why do most sales people neglect selling benefits? Because it’s easier to talk about features, that’s why. Features are usually the first thing a sales person will learn about their product or service. It requires empathy and imagination and in some cases extra research to sell a benefit.Talking about features is safe, and most people never venture out of their comfort zone. But it is weak and has low persuasive content.
Here’s a story: I was recently shopping for a new phone since my old one was fresh out of the stone age. I was considering a fruit based phone (you know which one I mean) and after reading up on all the specifications online I knew the size, the processor, size of the screen, it can connect to blue teeths etc, but why is all this important to me? I really only ever make phone calls and send text messages. It was only when a friend (pretty sure she secretly works for Apple) told me that the call quality is crisper so I can easily understand the person I’m talking to and texts can be sent for free between certain phones so I’ll save money on my tariff.
I definitely needed to know the features to satisfy my minimal concerns but I wasn’t persuaded to buy the phone as many others offered similar specifications and didn’t discard all my fears. It was only when my friend mentioned specific benefits to me that I went and bought one.
So imagine you’re selling a shark cage to a diver. You could talk all day about the features. The color is metallic silver, the folding mechanism is advanced, the hook system to get in into the water is a certain size and it has industry approved welding.
All are great features but all your prospect really cares about is that they won’t be eaten by a gigantic, hungry shark only a foot away! This is what matters and this is a benefit.
Know when to close a sale
Closing a sale is probably the biggest fear for a sales person. It can feel pushy and you have to get the timing right. But the good news is that if you have identified that your product or service can solve their problem, you’ve had a conversation around their needs and you’ve pitched the benefits in a clear and specific way, your prospect is expecting to be closed.
Remember the prospect entered into a sales situation with you so there is no hiding the fact that you are trying to sell them your product. All you’re doing is moving from an investigation phase to them making a decision.
There are however ways to soften the close such as asking, “So, what do you think?” This way opens up an opportunity to close and brings out any concerns they may have which you can then address. You could also try asking, “When shall we talk next?” or “Have you heard enough to make a final decision?”
My personal hate is when a sales person presumes they are going to make a sale and say, “So to whom shall I address the invoice?” I think this has more of a negative effect than not trying to close at all.
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