“Well, that’s common sense.” Have you heard someone tell you that about something that’s so obvious to them? I hear it a lot. Selling is really common sense. Unfortunately, I notice that common sense is not all that common. That’s why some salespeople aren’t making their sales numbers. They need more common sense.
You can only sell when a customer needs to buy.
My definition of selling is helping someone to buy a product or service that benefits both seller and buyer. When there is no need, you’re manipulating and coercing someone to make a buying decision. That’s not selling. It’s also a lot harder to accomplish and the results are not long-term.
Examine your prospect’s need the next time your sale stalls. Have you found a prospect need that is important to him, is a significant cost, and he can’t address himself? No need means no sale. Once you do find a need it’s only then that you get to say, “You know, I’ve worked with other customers on this issue and I think I might be able to help you, too.” That’s selling, not manipulating.
You’ve got to be able to hear the problem.
Who does most of the talking in your sales calls? Is it you or your prospects talking about his business? I hope it’s your prospects. That’s why good listening is the skill that all great salespeople have. It only makes sense that when prospects talk more that it helps you sell more because you can hear his problem or need.
Part of listening is confirming what you hear. Your prospect has the opportunity to confirm what you understand when you say, “I hear you telling me that X is an important issue to you. Is that correct?” He can say yes or no. That’s the opportunity to regroup if you hear no. Moving along with faulty assumptions is going to make you less successful and more likely to miss a sale. Correcting them early is your best course of action. That’s only common sense.
Customers won’t buy unless there’s trust.
Well, duh! Why would someone make a major decision to change suppliers without trusting that what you say is true, that your product will work, and you can support them if there is a problem? Those areas are all trust issues. Yet salespeople sometimes wonder why their deals don’t close. It’s because they haven’t addressed the trust issues.
Did you get the sales appointment because of a referral? There’s inherent trust built in because someone the prospect trusts is the person who recommended you. Did you get the appointment because the prospect read a column you wrote? You are often perceived as an expert and have built trust from your wisdom in the column. Do you have a list of satisfied customers who would be happy to take a prospect’s phone call to confirm the value of your work? That elicits trust. Examine the trust you’ve built when your sales aren’t moving along and closing.
The work starts once you make the sale.
It’s now time to deliver everything you said you would once you have the contract signed. The challenge becomes one when your customer believes you’re going to deliver something other than what you thought you were going to deliver. Resolving those misunderstandings, dealing with delays and billing errors are all issues you must address. It’s more ideal to prevent them, but know that your credibility is at stake after the sale. You don’t have much customer satisfaction points at this time so everything you do adds to your credibility. Every service failure detracts from it and makes it easier to lose your hard-earned business.
Salespeople who minimize the importance of meeting customer expectations after the sale are ones without much common sense.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.” Hopefully your genius is wearing your working clothes when you sell.