The art of selling isn’t limited to the ability to be persuasive; it’s about letting the facts speak for themselves so that the customer can self-determine the benefits when a purchasing decision needs to be made.
I have had the privilege of working with inspiring people in my career and was fortunate to have them impart their sales knowledge to me about selling. I want to now pay it forward by sharing my experience with you.
Ask anyone when last they had a bad customer experience and you will illicit the widest range of reactions. The way you sell now determines your ability to sell in future if you leave behind a great story told by your customers.
The one thing to keep in mind is that selling is both an objective and subjective process. Let me break it down for you:
People are living and breathing beings with needs, some are essential and others not but they both hold value for the customer. An example here could be that expensive sports car you always wanted versus the more affordable sedan to get from A to B.
Finding a balance between what to sell and who to sell to is also based on who needs it and how you communicate all the facts about the product in such a way that the consumer ends up realizing what the benefits are.
A consumer might feel that buying groceries from the local grocer is perfect and it will service all their needs. An online retailer selling exactly the same produce might feel that the convenience they offer for exactly the same price is a better option as it saves on time and travel expenses.
Both arguments are subjective and factually correct. Neither is more right or wrong, but they each need to demonstrate value/benefit as to why they are the better option.
This is where the sales process comes into effect, and we need to realize that techniques, messages and facts need to be identified, communicated and illustrated in just the right manner to effectively win over the customer.
Knowledge is power and if any sales person keeps this in mind, they will avoid making mistakes countless others have made by not asking themselves the what, when, where and why questions.
In today’s competitive economies, it is make or break for companies that do not continuously research and study their consumer. Business environments change so quickly that you can lose your market share quicker than you think. There are some lessons to learn from more recent examples of changes that caught businesses off guard.
For some of us old enough to remember, pictures used to be taken with a camera that required film. You were only afforded so many takes and then you had to go through the trouble of getting it developed.
Many camera and film makers at the time didn’t take the digital camera serious when it first came to prominence. Many argued that the film experience was favored by their customers and that the digital picture doesn’t add up compared with film picture quality. Their perceptions of their consumer were ill informed.
Within less than a decade, digital cameras were a hit, and some well known manufacturers were caught off guard. They were all slipping on banana peels trying to play catch up and sadly, many of them went out of business.
Knowing your consumer tells you the story of your present day value proposition, but it feeds in some facts that will make you take notice when a disruptive element can affect your business. It gives you the insight needed to know which facts are relevant so that benefits are clearly seen.
You often hear of people having buyer’s remorse. It’s often because of false advertising and or bad after sales service. Irrespective of product type or service, it’s the customer experience that builds or breaks your brand.
Research has shown that keeping a customer is more profitable than acquiring a new one. You have to formulate your message to be on point and honest. If you do it right the first time, and you keep to your value proposition then people will keep coming back and even lure others as well.
Companies also underestimate the effect of social media on their brand. People talk and consumers are more empowered and informed these days. Staying truthful and relevant is your only way to remain relevant.
Nothing irritates me more than infomercials. Watch an episode about a vacuum cleaner for 30 minutes and hear how this product has changed the lives of so many people despite the fact that people will more likely buy a vacuum cleaner because it’s a basic necessity. There’s nothing worse than buying something that claims to be so wonderful, only to find out that you were tricked.
Stick to the facts and let it do all the talking because value then becomes apparent. Here’s an example, say you are a car salesman. It would make sense to only point out the facts about the car and how it will satisfy the needs of the client (assuming you asked the right questions).
Clients will quickly notice the benefits if your message clearly illustrates the facts in a simple clear and honest manner. A young, single professional person will hardly find a family van beneficial if it’s going to be used by one person to and from work.
It will also make no sense to recommend an engine that is not fuel efficient if the car will likely be in peak hour traffic for much of the time. By allowing your facts to speak for themselves, the overall benefits will be clear if you listen to their needs and make your fact based recommendations accordingly.
I’ve learnt that honesty is the best policy and by keeping your message clear and brief will illuminate benefits better than overinvesting in a message just confuses the customer.
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