One way or another, business is all about selling. We have to sell to our customers, to our banks and other sources of funds, and even just when we’re meeting people for the first time in a social situation. ‘Selling’ really means just being yourself in a way that’s interesting to your audience.
That’s why to make the right kind of impression on others when selling something you can’t just commit a sales pitch to memory and deliver it; you have to sell yourself by being yourself. You have to open up to people and let them see who you really are so they know they can trust you.
Think about the last time you encountered a ‘real’ salesperson. You sensed they were simply delivering a pitch and trying to sell you something rather than trying to get to know about you and find out what you really wanted. The impression made by somebody trying to sell something rather than trying to satisfy the needs of a customer is generally a negative one.
Now think about a salesperson you’ve met whom you really liked – someone who left you with a positive impression, even if they did manage to part you from your money. Chances are pretty good that they didn’t just try to sell you something, but rather that they spent at least the first part of your time together getting to know you. And when you’d completed the transaction you walked away feeling you’d got to know them as well.
What had really happened during your conversation? During that time they’d sold themselves to you before they’d tried to sell you anything else. They got to know you well enough to discover what it was you were after and then matched up your needs with what they had to sell.
This isn’t to say that you don’t have to keep business in mind when you’re trying to sell something. Customers expect you to know about your products and to know about the industry you work in. They often come to you for your knowledge as much as they do for a product or service; especially if they’re unsure about exactly what it is they need to solve a problem.
But subconsciously, what they really want to do is to learn something about you and to feel that you want to learn something about them. They want to connect on a personal level and make the occasion one in which they’ve met a new acquaintance, even if the ultimate result is that they buy something from you. People don’t want to deal with strangers and will always prefer to purchase something from least someone they feel they know.
How can you become this special kind of person when you’re trying to sell something? It’s not difficult and it will be something you enjoy doing; just remember these four things:
Get your knowledge up-to-date
Remember that people come to you for knowledge and information they don’t possess. It’s up to you to prepare yourself for their questions by learning all you can about your products and how they relate to people’s needs. Anticipate what it is that customers will want to know and be ready with the answers. This will enable you to be a lot more helpful and reassuring.
Create an outline of the sale
This is not as hard as it sounds. Most selling situations go in a fairly similar, and therefore predictable way. They always begin with a greeting and an introduction, then move on to questions and answers, finally ending with a close and hopefully a sale.
Customers are on your territory and probably expect you to control the situation to some degree, so even before you greet a customer have in mind how you want the sale to go. It will make both of you more comfortable if there’s a structure to your conversation.
Get to know the other person first
Make the first part of every conversation about them, and not about you or what you’re selling. Make a point of finding out some personal details, starting with their names and what sort of work they do.
The most important thing to find out is just what they want from you. It may well be just advice at first, or possibly information about your product. Before you give a definitive answer probe for a bit more information about their needs; if they ask a question it’s an indication that they are aware of a need and hope you’ll be able to satisfy it.
Relax and let things happen
You’ve prepared for this conversation, you’ve researched your knowledge base, you’ve outlined how things will go, you’ve got to know the other person – now just relax and let the sale take place. Take the lead but don’t push, and be confident that you’ve got something this customer wants. If not, you’ll both know it and no harm done.
And most important of all, be yourself. Don’t try to become someone who’s the perfect salesperson or has ‘personality plus’. They want to meet someone who’s genuine and sincere – someone who’s just like them but with more knowledge about something they need. That’s you!
Article courtesy of RAN ONE: http://www.ranone.com/features/news.asp?ID=4154