Many people think of sales as a dark art or as something that's practiced by con artists. Done properly, sales is nothing of the sort - it's merely a process. Like a carpenter building a house, a needs satisfaction salesperson uses a step by step process to satisfy customer needs. Far from a con job, it's a needed and helpful customer service.
Every time we come into contact with a customer we are selling. Follow the below steps to help customers and get your business into high gear.
Step 1. Qualify
Find out whether or not you are dealing with a customer. A "customer" can be defined as someone who does or may need or want your product and who has the immediate ability to purchase it.
When first dealing with a customer, qualify yourself. Explain to the customer why you are an expert in your product line. Tell them that you want to find out about their purchase so that you may use your expertise to help them.
Step 2. Profile
Gain as much information as possible about the customer and their needs and wants. Find out the who, what, where, when and why of their purchase decision. Ask as many questions as are reasonable in the context of the product or service that you are selling.
Generally, the larger the purchase the more complete the purchase profile. Attempting to sell a shirt with the detailed profile required to sell a nuclear power plant will have your customer searching for the nearest exit. In the reverse, your customer will question your ability and the legitimacy of your company.
Step 3 Demonstrate and Gain Agreement
Using the information gained in (and, in many instances, as part of) step two, interact with the customer to demonstrate how your product meets their needs. If they are looking for a blue shirt, show them blue shirts and ask which shade of blue they had in mind. As you propose solutions ("is this right shade of blue?") and the customer chooses from among them, you are accomplishing step 4.
Step 4. Finalize - the "C" word.
Closing a sale is not an event, it is a part of the process. Presuming that (a) you've identified your customers needs and wants and (b) your product or service meets those needs and wants, closing a sale is the natural outcome of your contact with the customer. If a customer describes a shirt that they wish to purchase and they've agreed that the shirt in your hand is that which they've described, the sale is closed except for the paperwork.
Step 5. Overcome Objections
If at any point the above process stalls or stops, it is what's termed "an objection" which is usually a communications failure. Except in relatively rare instances of a "hard" (insurmountable) objection, either you've misunderstood or you've been misunderstood at some point in the process.
While we'll leave specific techniques for overcoming objections for a future article, in general objections are overcome with more or better information. Find out as much as possible about the objection (profile it); from that information determine where the communications failure lies and correct it.
Sales is a key component of any successful business. Learning and practicing needs satisfaction sales techniques can make the sales process as enjoyable as it is profitable.
For step by step help with your business plan, please use our business plan software.
Below are links to our business articles, we hope that you find them helpful.
Basic Bookkeeping Made Easy.
The Basic Business Plan.
Be a Successful Salesperson in Five Steps.
How to Get a Business Loan in Five Steps.
How to Overcome Sales Objections in Five Steps.
How to Start Your Own Business.
How to Write a Business Plan in Five Steps.
How to Have Lenders and Investors Eating Out of Your Hand.
Secrets of a Great Business Plan.
What is a Business Plan?
Why Write a Business Plan?