In bygone days, it wasn’t unusual for some salespeople to use aggressive, and often unethical hard-sell tactics to close the sale. The sale and was the priority; not the customer. For some unscrupulous salespeople, it didn’t matter that the goods were substandard, or even unwanted by the prospect. Indeed, some salespeople’s idea of selling was to ‘hold the prospect hostage’ in their homes until the sale was agreed! – They would spend hours aggressively countering every objection the prospect made until, being emotionally drained by the process, the prospect signed on the dotted line. (Consumers didn’t have the protection they have today, such as a cooling off period.)
Unethical salespeople who used this particular sales tactic justified their actions: they ‘deserved’ the sale because the prospect had used up (and wasted) so much of their time! It’s no wonder that salespeople got such bad reputation.
Thankfully, the vast majority today’s salespeople have personal moral compasses and follow ethical codes of practice. Company owners do have to reach their sales quotas to make a profit and stay in business. But, if they are forward-thinking, they will instil in their salespeople the art of valuing consumer relationships, rather than seeingcommodities and a means to benefit only the company.
Modern Sales Techniques
Successful business owners know the value of fostering healthy relationships with their prospects. They know it’s good for business; to sell consumers what they need when they need it so that transactions are beneficial to both the consumer and the business. To nurture long-term relationships with consumers companies need great salespeople, so here are a few tips on modern selling:
Learn about your prospect – find out as much as you can about your prospect before you meet with them. As soon as you get the lead, get digging for information.
Put your prospect at ease – learn the art of good body language. Use appropriate eye contact, use friendly gestures and tone of voice. If your prospect is comfortable in your presence, and there is a feeling of trust, they will more readily be open to having a discussion with you.
Actively listen – don’t ‘talk over’ or interrupt your prospect, or dismiss their objections out of hand. Listen, and answer their queries honestly using language that they are comfortable with. Listen out for ‘hidden’ objections and offer reassurance as well as solutions.
Focus on your prospect’s needs – you may earn that little extra in commission by selling them the latest model of washing machine, but does a person living alone really need that big loader with all the bells and whistles? Or, would a more basic model suit their needs? Give your prospect what they need, not what you want to sell them. Your honesty will earn their loyalty.
Be up-front – if a prospect asks a question you don’t know the answer to, don’t pretend to know; they will quickly spot a ‘fake.’ Say you’ll find out and get back to them, and do it – prospects will appreciate your efforts and view you as being honest and reliable.
Become an expert – learn everything about the product or service you are selling and the industry you’re selling in. People will be more confident in you if you can answer their questions with expert knowledge. Become a valuable resource – the go-to guy – for solutions inside and outside this transaction.
Help your prospects to buy – sell them the benefits the product or service will bring them. Focus on selling the solution to their problem rather than on selling the service or product. Discretely address possible financial issues if you are sensing they may have any.
Don’t use pressure tactics – don’t use emotional blackmail, such as losing your job if you don’t get this sale; or that your family s onrisk pushing the prospect away – usually to the competition. And they won’t come back.
Customer Retention and Loyalty
By using these tips, you will no doubt increase your chances of achieving the sale. And, unlike hard-sell tactics that focus on closing the deal fore moving on to the next prospect, you can foster a relationship that will bring long-term opportunities. By nurturing your relationship with your prospects and creating loyalty, they will be more likely to become returning customers and recommend you to family and friends – and we all know the benefits of ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing.