Are you in business, but often think to yourself that you’re not in sales – perhaps you can’t stand selling and have decided that you can’t sell? If this is the case, then you need to take a good hard look at yourself – because, guess what? If you’re in business, you’re in sales.
Now I can just hear some replies, ‘But I’m a doctor, I’m not in sales’. Wrong. Everyone who runs a business is in sales. The trouble with many professional people is that they don’t understand that very notion and as a result they often give inadequate service to their clients.
Sure, I agree, that in areas such as medicine, many people don’t like to attach the sales tag. But I suggest two things to counter this. One is that the word ‘sales’ is often associated with meanings such as, ‘I’m being sold something I don’t want here. I’m going to be ripped off’.
These are connotations that shouldn’t go with the word ‘sales’. For too long, we’ve associated the word with ‘salesman’ with used car salesman and the first thing that often comes into your mind is ‘con man’.
If your firm is to grow and prosper, you must continually bring in new business and look after existing clients – and this means knowing how to sell.
Talk the talk
As a kid I remember our family doctor’s receptionist always treated patients poorly. She had a dictatorial manner – as if to say, ‘The only important person is the doctor, who can keep you waiting as long as they like’.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have enormous respect for the professions and I know where I head as soon as I’m feeling off colour or I need a legal opinion. But just because these people have superior skills in areas such as law, medicine, dentistry, etc. doesn’t mean that they precludes them from engaging in good sound business practices. The joke is that many professionals won’t have a clue about running a business – no one teaches them in law or med school!
Knowing how to sell means that you need to listen to your customers (clients, patients … same thing), understand their needs and then tailor your products and services to give them the greatest satisfaction.
Can everyone be taught to sell? Lots of people can do a pitch – which mainly requires an ability to communicate. The tough part is closing the deal and getting the sale. Good sellers insist there is an exhilarating buzz from closing the sale. Here are some tips to help give you that ‘buzz’. Closing the sale effectively requires mastering all steps in the selling process.
The way forward
1. Know your product or service intimately. You can’t effectively sell if you don’t understand what you’re selling. Learn as much as you can about the product/service you’re selling. Literally take your product to pieces and understand its intricacies – what can it do for your customer? How is it better than its competition? What warranty is on the product? What’s its shelf life? What is the return on investment for the purchaser? Develop a checklist of information about your product/service and train any person selling it so they have the same understanding as you do.
2. Understand your customer needs and wants. If you want repeat business, don’t just ‘flog’ your product to a customer if you know that it’s not what they really want. You will do damage to your brand and your reputation. They won’t return and they won’t recommend you to others. If you’re selling a technical product and your customer isn’t savvy with the language, make sure you translate the qualities of your product or service into everyday language – don’t confuse a customer. Let your customer know that you want to be their reliable, consistent and steady partner.
3. Have absolute belief about the quality of what you’re selling. If you don’t believe in what you’re selling, how can you expect anyone else to?
4. Do the hard work then ask the hard question. Simply ask the customer if they would like to buy your product. Don’t try any tricky techniques. Ask them if there is anything else they require to help them make their decision, and if they have all the information they need, then ask them if they would like to commit to your product or service.