How to sell without the hard sell
The slick sales person that talks more than they listen is a thing of the past.
To sell in today’s environment requires a soft, but persistent touch and a lot of understanding, says Training for Growth director Diana Simich.
“Before the GFC, we could do sales more quickly, but now it’s very much about building the relationship before you can make the sale.”
It’s about understanding what your customers need; making them feel understood, then positioning your product as a solution to their problems.
Here are some of Simich’s top tips for creating connections and making sales.
Create touch points
The number of touch points – that is, the contacts between a potential customer and your business – before a sale is made has soared during the past decade. It indicates people need a greater sense of trust before making a purchase.
Don’t wait for touch points to happen, Simich says, create them to build that trust faster. And remember, it doesn’t always have to be strictly related to your product or service – it can be just an indication to a client that you “get” them.
For example, you may see a training course or seminar that may interest them or a joke that will make them laugh.
“Whether it was entertainment, extra knowledge, courses I thought might help them. I was constantly on the look-out. I was looking to partner myself with them.”
Training can pay you back in spades
SMEs, in particular, can benefit from sales training because it is usually their weak point, says Simich.
“So many small business owners and micro business owners are amazingly talented people that are experts in their craft, but they just do not understand how to make sales or to have a sales conversation,” she says.
“People who don’t have sales skills can be seen as manipulative or pushy – so you’re really looking to master your communications.”
If someone seeks out your business, they are interested in buying. Don’t let a sales opportunity slip away by failing to return phone calls or emails.
“You ask a small business owners how many times have they followed up queries they’d probably say never,” Simich says.
Similarly, if you have been asked to provide a quote, follow up promptly. It is not pushy to ask what problems/issues are preventing the potential customer from progressing. You may have a solution.
Stay in touch
This is a lesson SMEs can learn from corporates, Simich says. If someone has shown an interest in your product, but ultimately has not purchased, keep in touch.
“Some business owners take it personally as that person didn’t want their product. What the corporates understand is that people may be ready (to buy) at any time over the next 12 months, but if we’re not staying in touch with them we’re not front-of-mind when they’re ready.”