Twenty-three percent of small business owners say that out of all the tasks involved in running their business, being a salesperson is their least favorite, making sales the least favorite task after bookkeeping, an eVoice survey found. Even professional sales representatives admit to sales anxiety, with 80 percent of new salespeople failing because of sales call reluctance, according to Shannon Goodson and George Dudley in The Psychology of Sales Call Reluctance.
One reason so many non-salespeople and inexperienced sales representatives avoid sales is because they’ve never been taught how to sell. But selling anything can be easy if you know the steps in the sales process:
Establish a Positive Relationship.
Entrepreneur James Altucher says that in 25 years of selling, he’s found that his sales success depends on whether or not he and the other person like each other. People buy from people they like and trust. For example, one reason the social sales model used by companies such as Amway has been so successful is that representatives base their sales network on selling to people they already know, often in an informal party atmosphere, creating a friendly relationship. Many companies are increasingly turning to humorous ads and native content for the same reason. When you put establishing a positive relationship with the other person first, you put yourself in a better position to make a sale.
Once you’ve started a relationship with your prospect and gotten a conversation going, the next step is asking questions about what your prospect needs help with. For example, insurance comparison websites help people who are looking for the lowest price they can find on insurance. By inviting people to answer questions about their insurance situation, such sites put themselves in a position to offer policies. Making a list of discovery questions you can ask your prospects is a powerful way to improve your sales presentations. RAIN Group sales consultants John Doerr and Mike Schultz provide some examples of open-ended questions you can ask sales prospects to understand their needs.
One mistake many sales representatives make is focusing on product features instead of the practical benefits a prospect represents to the prospect, says guerrilla marketing experts Jay Conrad Levinson and Al Lautenslager. For example, saying that an iPod Shuffle has 128GB of storage space for MP3s is describing a feature. Saying that owning an iPod Shuffle is like having 2,000 portable songs in your pocket is highlighting a benefit. Make sure your sales presentation conveys the benefits of what you’re selling and not just the features.
Make an Offer.
The most crucial part of a sales presentation is the close, where you make your sales offer. Four key elements go into making a sales offer irresistible, says direct marketing consultant Beth Smith. First, your offer should convey the unique selling proposition that sums up what’s new, better or different about your product. Second, mention the savings, working out the actual math for the customer. For instance, if they’ll be saving $10 a month, point out that they’ll be saving $120 a year. Third, add an incentive for buying, such as a bonus. Finally, create a sense of urgency by emphasizing scarcity, such as a limited product supply or a limited-time offer.
Typically, prospects will respond to offers with objections, so your sales success depends on how well you’re able to handle objections. The best way to prepare for objections is to anticipate the most common objections you’re likely to encounter and practice answering them. For instance, sales legend Tom Hopkins knows that many prospects will object that a product or service costs too much, so he prepares for this objection by offering three ranges of prices and asking his prospect which range best fits their needs.
Only 2 percent of sales get closed on the first meeting, and 80 percent of prospects say “no” four times before they say “yes,” according to Marketing Wizdom founder Robert Clay. This makes persistence in following up a key to sales success. Realize ahead of time that you’ll probably have to follow up, and map out a follow-up plan and schedule to increase your odds of closing the sale.