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With globalisation and the rise of social media like LinkedIn and Facebook, sales conversations have undergone dramatic changes. Earlier, salespeople talked about their products (or services) and customers listened. Prospective customers were less aware of the options they had, and relied on the salesperson’s knowledge.
Online marketing has changed the way people approach sales. Now, they rely on websites, customer reviews and third party opinions to research their options and understand the solutions. Customers are thus more prepared when they are at the sales table. Their expectations are different: they expect you to understand and anticipate their needs and show that you can provide a solution that will actually produce results for them.
Salespeople now have to relearn their techniques and be more creative, and demonstrate greater knowledge and understanding. Here are some ways of guiding sales conversations and getting results – actual sales:
It is no secret that customers tend to buy from people that they trust, all other factors being the same. Building a relationship and appearing trustworthy can often be difficult in short conversations, but being likeable and giving honest answers can go a long way in building rapport.
Once your prospective customer trusts you, you can get them to open up and be receptive to your words much more effectively.
Customers like to feel in control always, but sales conversations solely guided by the customer do not usually produce desired results. Some customers like to ask questions right from the beginning and try to drive the conversation.
In order to get the talk back on track (your track), you must acknowledge the questions, while conveying that you need more information before presenting a solution. One way of ensuring that you are guiding the conversation is by asking questions yourself. Asking a ‘provocative question’, the answer to which allows you to present your solution, is an effective technique. Identify your customer’s problem and present it as a question, and when he/she answers, you can fine-tune your response based on that.
In order to be influencing your prospective customers’ choices, you must make them feel that they are in control of the situation. Give them choices, but in such a manner that ‘No’ is not a possible answer. When you want them to act according to your wishes, it is important that they feel that it was their idea all along. It is well accepted in sales that ‘people want to buy; they do not want to be sold to’.
Once you have talked about your customers’ needs and their problems, the next step is to present your solution to it. Here, the thing is to focus on the ‘what’ rather than the ‘how’. What can you and your company do to solve the problem? Most customers today already know about the ‘how’ – they have done their research.
You should present the solution in such a way that it matches the customer’s description of their problems. That way, they have no reason to object.
Now, most of the work is done. The only thing remaining is to talk about the price and close the sale. Remember, the value of your services (or products) is how much the customers’ perceive it to be. So you should present the solution carefully before the price is mentioned.
One mistake many salespersons made is not asking for the sale verbally. Even if you have done all the work, the answer will be No, until you have asked for the sale. Do not be afraid of rejection, if you have presented your case well, you have done your job. Be confident, use comfortable words, but never hesitate to ask.
During the entire conversation, the thing to remember is to keep the focus on the prospective customer and his needs. Your products (or services) and their features are less important and can easily be understood from the website or a brochure.
It is time to replace the traditional sales pitch with a client-centred conversation that ends in your asking for the sale – the most effective closing technique there is!