Wise words from my father – and how true they are. Until a computer, a car, a book, a movie ticket – the list goes on – is sold nothing new can be innovated, manufactured, or serviced. The selling machine drives everything – period. It is the fuel for the economy. Here are five easy (and basic) tips to remember when selling anything – from pasta to software programs – the recipe is the same:
1. Know and understand your business. Know your market, the market trends, your competitors, and the rhythm of your business and sales cycle. You must be the subject matter expert in your business. That is only one component of your value to your customers and prospects; and yet, by having your finger on the pulse you can most effectively market and sell what you have.
2. Know how to position your product and service. What makes your product or service different than everyone else’s? How does your product or service address the business needs of your customer? If you can’t answer these questions in a compelling way – why would the customer want to buy what you are selling?
3. Live the value proposition of your company, your product or service, and your overall offering. The value proposition is the ‘So What?’ of what you are offering. What is the real value the ‘WIIFT’ (what’s in it for them) for your prospects and clients? If you truly believe in what you are offering – you will live it and make it compelling for your target market; if you don’t, it will show and no one will buy from a fraud. Authenticity is hard to dispute, especially when someone loves and lives what they are selling.
4. Out service your competition. Easy to say, often hard to do. This means going that extra mile, especially before your client or customers asks you to! Send unsolicited articles of relevance – on their markets, their competitors or even a prospective client for them. Offer ‘free’ advice – in the form of newsletters, blogs, podcast, or even hard copy books – which may be of interest to them. Make service issues go away – even if you have to ‘eat’ the cost and/or faulty products. One dissatisfied client can pollute an entire market for you. Remember them on special celebrations (store openings, fiscal year end results, new customer wins, etc.). Keep ahead of the curve for them – if you offer services, offer quarterly or annual’ tune ups’ without fees. These extra efforts pay off in big dividends….always have, always will.
5. Ask questions and listen to what your clients need and want. I am amazed at how often sales folks begin proposing solutions before they even know what the needs are. Ask questions. Listen. Ask more questions, seldom is the first answer what they really need to solve the issue. Then, once the real needs are uncovered – provide choices for the client. Choice is a powerful tool – everyone wants to have choices!
6. Be grateful. Nothing speaks more powerfully than a voice of pure gratitude. I love it when I get a hand written, personal thank you note from a business AND when they reference a specific product or experience with me – so that I know it really was ‘meant for me’ and not a form letter. I also know they are sincerely grateful for my business. I am more apt to continue giving them my business – and to refer them on to others.
Not rocket science – yet in this fast paced, competitive world – the basics are often forgotten.