I felt distinctly uncomfortable. I wanted to just hang up the phone and get away from the man and the conversation I had somehow got locked into. But I couldn’t.
I didn’t want to appear rude.
I didn’t want to appear weak.
I didn’t want to appear unprofessional.
I was under the influence of hard sales tactics and my only option was to say yes or find the strength to firmly say no.
It should have been easy to say no.
But that’s the thing with a hard sell. It’s very difficult to say no. You want to, but you also don’t want to have to explain yourself or be backed into another corner. You want to be polite.
Your emotions are conflicting and out of desperation to feel OK again or to just get out of the situation, many of you here will find yourself saying yes.
I’d be surprised if you’d never been subjected to this kind of experience. And it’s the reason so many entrepreneurs turn their noses up at selling or improving their sales skills.
What makes me so cross about this is that customers are genuinely missing out on great products or services they need. And you’re missing out on those customers, just because of a handful of pushy salespeople have put people off the art of simple selling.
What if selling could be easy and simple, and in no way pushy?
What if you just tried a couple of the following simple sales tips - tips that I’ve learnt from some conscientious business people who just want to get their thing into the hands of those who need it most?
Well here’s your chance to dispel the myth that sales is a dirty word. Try one of these simple sales tips out for size when you next talk to a prospective customer and tell us how you get on.
If you’re talking to someone who really wants what you offer, but isn’t actually in a position to say yes or no definitively, then you’ll get nowhere fast.
Sales are quicker and easier when you’re talking to the person who has the final say. Find out if your prospect is the decision maker simply by asking:
“If this is something you want to go ahead with, is there anyone else’s approval you’ll need?”
It's your job to understand what you’re selling inside out and to be confident in it. You need to believe in it and know who and how it can help. If you’re not outwardly confident in it, it’ll come across in the subtlest of ways… and even if the person you’re talking to would be a great fit for it, they’ll never buy from you.
They might not be able to articulate why, but something about your lack of confidence will ring warning bells.
When you’re buying something new, there are a few criteria you need to know to be able to make a decision. It's your job to find out these essentials from your potential customer and answer them quickly, so they can make the best decision for them.
I recently had a terrible experience with a window salesman (yes… I know, so cliche). He spent over an hour telling us things we didn’t need to know about how the windows were made and why they were better than the competition on the market.
He failed to answer any of our direct questions that in the end we just got fed up and had to ask him to leave.
Understanding why someone might not want to buy your product or service, or why they might not want to right now, is smart, not sleazy. It doesn’t mean you can then spin a yarn for any reason they give you. What it means is that you can address their concerns and answer them genuinely.
For example, they may not be able to pay in one lump sum, but not realise you offer a payment schedule. If you’ve prepped and pre-empted that concern, you can address it front on with them and provide a choice that helps them make a decision either way.
What objections might a potential customer have to buy your product or service?
I used to fall down on this one… I’d have a chat with a potential customer and just ask them to “let me know” if they wanted to go ahead.
As soon as I just outright asked: “Is this something you’d like to go ahead with?” I found that not only did I actually get more customers, I stopped having that awful waiting around game with people who were on the fence. They either say yes or no. If they aren’t sure, I’ll arrange a time to ask them again - and follow up.
Talking of following up. How often do you contact people who were on the fence about your product or service? The majority of sales happen on follow-up when the person has had time to think and consider everything.
We’re all busy people and your product or service might slip down their priority list as other things come in. A gentle reminder to check in and see if they have any more questions or have made a decision is a good thing - and most people will thank you for it.
Jen Smith is a freelance writer and content strategist. Follow her @_JenSmith
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