As a Publishing entrepreneur and by doing publicity for my clients, I’ve spent years studying the art of selling. The techniques that follow aren’t difficult to learn, but they require discipline and practice.
Your most important skill as a business owner is your salesmanship. Having the best product or service means nothing if you can’t get anyone to buy it, so to ensure the success of your business you must develop the ability to generate revenue – “salesman-ship”.
Here is a brief outline of 13 techniques I’ve developed for increasing sales:
1. USE THE PHONE -Absolutely the cheapest, most effective, and efficient way to find customers is by phone. Yes, “cold-calling”. Write out a script for this before you call, so you don’t sound vague. Introduce yourself, your company, the purpose of the call, and give a brief “benefit” of your product/service to the client. “What will you do for his/her business?” Be brief, to the point, and have 10 possible objections you might get, answered in your script. This way you’re prepared for the customary “brush-off.” Always try to get a firm commitment to a meeting. This call is not to “sell” the client, it’s to get a face-to-face meeting to establish credibility – and then to sell him/her. Would you buy from a voice on the phone? No. You want to see the vendor and listen to his offer.
2. SHOUT IT FROM THE MOUNTAIN TOP – You should always be looking for new customer, and I’ve found that giving seminars, teaching, guest speaking at trade shows and organizations, or writing an article for your trade magazine or business journal establishes you as an “expert” in your field. People like to buy from experts because it reduces their fear of making a bad decision. Everyone can overcome their fear of public speaking, so find the method that works best for you and do it. As a desperate step, join a Toastmaster’s group near you or take a night course at a nearby Adult School.
3. ASK QUESTIONS – Most salespeople think that the first meeting with the prospect is the only chance to make a sale. WRONG! Before you go into your “pitch” ask questions, take notes, what are your prospects goals, challenges, etc. Helping a prospect solve a business problem creates a “win-win” relationship and closes more sales than you think.
4. AVOID “PRODUCT DUMPING” – Telling your prospect all about your product/service before you know their needs is a mistake made by 95% of salespeople. This is an inefficient selling method and upon reflection, your client will lose faith in you. I’ve met with clients on several occasions and left them with some advice and good feelings, but no sale and that’s alright. Because in the future I’m apt to get “word of mouth” referrals from them, which will outweigh what I might have made if I’d simply “sold” them a service that wasn’t an answer to their problem. Remember – nothing adds more to your credibility than a referral from a satisfied prospect.
5. KNOW YOUR NUMBERS – Selling is a numbers game, and you need to learn your “selling ratios.” How many prospecting calls do you need to get a meeting, and how many meetings to get a sale. This allows you to manage your cash flow by forecasting your sales. It also tells you how many calls are needed to increase your sales revenue.
In next week’s column we’ll continue with the 13 tips which will cover Qualifying Your Prospect and Gaining Trust to name just a few. Happy selling!