The dos and don’ts of selling to prospective clients
Is selling an art or a science? Do you need special skills to sell to your customers, or can anyone do it? I believe selling is an art and a science, and it’s all about understanding what your customer’s needs are and how they think about things. It’s not rocket science — just common sense — but reviewing the principles is always a good thing.
Do research client needs. The number one ‘do’ of sales is to research your client’s needs. This is best done before a sales call, personal visit or before they give a response. If that’s not possible, then when your potential client is in front of you, ask lots of questions and listen closely to the answers to find out their needs.
Do show the customer how a product or service fits their needs. Demonstrations are best when possible.
Do answer all their questions. Be honest, and answer any questions as best as you can. Research anything you are unable to answer on the spot. Get back to them with the information when you have it. In particular, answer the question about price. You can always provide a range to help people work out if they are in the ballpark.
Do be upfront, especially if asked about sales commissions.
Do understand your competition. If your customers are not shopping with you, whom are they buying from? Know the difference between you and your competitors. Ask why the customer chose your competitor over you. Be able to communicate to the customer what the differences are between you and your competitor so that they can make an informed decision. In sales, it shows confidence to point out both your strengths and weaknesses.
Do give your best price when you are asked. Don’t expect customers to come back so you can then give them your best price. Customers have researched prices online, and they may not come back to give you a second chance.
Do communicate your sales process. Explain the benefits of your particular process.
Do ensure your sales material both online and offline have consistent messages and branding. Provide your information in different formats so that you can sell in the best way for the customer. Consider video and audio as well as words.
Do allow potential customers to ‘check you out’ by providing testimonials and past client contact info. Testimonials build trust and show you are confident in your work.
Don’t forget the don’ts
Don’t try and sell something that doesn’t meet the needs of the customer.
Don’t try and close the sale too soon.
Don’t try and manipulate the sales process so that the customer has to do it your way. Be flexible to the customer’s needs and what it is that they’re looking for.
Don’t take a lost sale personally. If someone rejects the sale, they may not be rejecting you. It might just be that you or your product is not the best fit. Be gracious and encouraging, and they will be more likely to come back to you if they made the wrong choice.
Too often sales people follow a hard and fast formula to get sales, without considering if this process is helpful to the customer or meeting their needs. Selling is an art and a science — it’s about making the sales process as easy as possible for the customer. Highlight the features and benefits of a product; answer any questions directly; and be creative with overcoming obstacles by providing flexible solutions. Good luck!