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One of the keys to a business’s success, and a factor that needs to be paramount in the success of many small businesses, is the ability to relate to customers and sell his products and services. While selling seems to come natural to a few people, to most of us entrepreneurs, it takes work and we need to understand that there is a science to it. Below are the steps to being successful in selling.
It is essential to build relationships with prospective customers. How does this happen? In order to understand the needs of our customers, we have to listen, we have to ask questions that go deep in understanding the pains or pleasures that these people are seeking. The point of this is to build trust with our prospects, to let them know that we are not so much trying to sell them something as to help them solve a problem.
In order to move further towards selling to prospective customers, we need to understand why they want to buy from us. This not only requires us to qualify them as real prospects and identify if they have a need for what we sell at this moment, but understand whether or not what we sell is going to be of value to them. If we think we can provide value to them and they are ready to find out more about our product or service, we can go deeper.
I was never a good customer for some suppliers because in reality I was small potatoes for their type of business. As a result, they never spent much time trying to sell to us. They would cajole me, just in case I became a 10 or 20 million dollar business but I really didn’t qualify for their real attention. When we are working with people who are interested in what we have, we need to ask those budget questions to determine if the fit is right. This doesn’t mean that if they don’t qualify, that we treat them any less importantly. It does mean, however, that we need to move on at some point, to focus on customers that can afford to buy what we sell.
Many a time, I have tried to sell products or services to someone who seemed really interested without understanding that I wasn’t talking to the right decision maker. When you do this, you end up wasting your time. Great salesmen discover early who makes the decisions and how to reach them.
Only when you completely understand the needs of your customer, their uses for your product or service, their budget, and that you have the right person in front of you, can you present a solution to their problem. If we have not heard what our customer is asking for, or if we present a solution that does not fit, we have wasted their time, our time and ultimately, insulted them.
This is one of the reasons salespeople get such a bad rap! My friend Dennis Bonagara – who is a great salesman – once explained it to me this way: “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.” We need to be sure that we spend the time listening well so that we can present the optimal solution!
Great salespeople follow up with their customers to make sure that the product or service really solved the problem and was the solution to the customer’s issues. When you follow up, you show that you care, and that you are around for the long run. Selling is never a one-off event.
Even if your customer is not going to need what you have again, they can recommend to others that they buy from you. If you want to save your business from your competition, you need to build a better sales system.
When you spend time understanding the selling process, and training your staff to do the same, your business will be on the road to success. •
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