Which is more important– your selling skills or your selling strategy? I say your strategy is more important. You won’t be effective if you have great skills and a poor strategy. Think of it as doing the wrong things well. If you have a good strategy and poor skills, it might take you longer, but you just might accomplish your objective. Now it’s time improve your sales strategy.
Are your messages strategic?
Some businesses have a sales strategy of attracting customers by giving away free items. They simply hand the item sometimes saying, “I have something for you.” The something could be a book, pen, blanket, leather case or other type of promotional product. Don’t ever give anything to a customer or prospect without a strategic message of why you are giving him the item. When you simply say, “Here’s something for you,” you are not getting any strategic value from giving the item. Here’s how to make your giving part of your sales strategy.
Is your gift useful?
There are a lot of unopened and unread books on people’s bookshelves. You don’t want your book to be one of them. Give your customer a reason to open the book. Let’s say you have a book on Payroll Services. You might say to a particular prospect, “I see from our meeting that your concern is avoiding IRS fines. I suggest you start with Chapter 4 which has some important issues to consider to avoid IRS fines. We can work with you to implement those best practices.” You have just demonstrated you understand your prospect’s business and you have given him a useful resource for him to review. He’s more likely to open the book, read it and believe you are an expert that he wants to do business with.
Is your gift valuable?
Do you think giving a valuable pen or other expensive item to a prospect is a good idea? What if your prospect doesn’t value expensive pens? Your prospect is the one who needs to determine that the gift is valuable. A golfer would appreciate something golf related. Someone who isn’t a sports enthusiast would not see the value of that golf gift.
Value perceptions change based on who gets the item, too. Perception of value increases when there’s exclusivity involved. Something given to everyone isn’t as valuable as something given to only a few, exclusive people.
Let’s say you want to partner with another business. You would say, “We value the relationship we have with our partners. We provide them with 10 hours of consulting a month at no charge because we want them to be successful. We charge other businesses who are not partners $100/hour.” Something that’s free often is perceived to have no value.
Are you perceived to be believable?
You might have many certifications that make you an expert in your field. You may think that because you have greater expertise than your competitors that prospects should believe you when you make recommendations. They might not believe you even with your expertise. Why? Because you are less believable when you say something and have something to gain (as you do when you are in sales.)
That’s why testimonials are so effective. Your customers can say the same things about your performance as you would, but when they say them they have nothing to gain. Consider how you try to convince a prospect that you are superior to your competition. Let someone who doesn’t have anything to gain make the claims about your attributes.
Michigan State University Advertising Professor Jef I. Richards says, ‘Creative without strategy is called ‘art.’ Creative with strategy is called ‘advertising.” What he says is meaningful in sales. Selling without strategy is called visiting. Selling with strategy is called getting a customer.