DEVELOPING Effective Sales

Dynamic Psychology

Three Stages of a Sale

Pre Sales Preparation

Sales Presentation

Closing the Sale

Answering Objections

Post Sales Follow Up

Many people, when setting up their first business, have a fear of selling. This can have a dramatically negative effect on both you, as the new business person, and your customers - whether you want it too or not, whether you understand it or not and, whether you believe it or not.

Good products and innovative ideas, unfortunately, do not sell themselves, as many have found out to their cost. The main reason people have unsuccessful businesses is that they fail to sell enough of their product, or service, to make a reasonable living.

The main reasons for this are usually:

Poor, or no, Market Research (covered in market research )

Trying to sell to the wrong people, in the wrong media, at the wrong time. (covered in advertising)

Failure to deal effectively with enquiries and to sell (covered in this section)

Failure to keep customers after the initial sale (covered in this section)

Dynamic Psychology

Before you start the sales section there is a vital point to cover - however good your presentation is, however much work you put into it, however convinced you are that you have the best product, or service, on earth (and most of you will be) - most of your customer don't speak the same language as you and so they will not understand you!!

Why is this - it's because people communicate in different ways, these are

Through pictures - these people are called visuals

These are the people who communicate through pictures and are attracted, or repelled, by your logo, your literature and your product, simply because of the way it looks.

They use expressions like 'I see what you mean' and cannot follow simple directions unless they can see the map, but, show them the map and they will memorise it and be able to find wherever they want go.

in order to communicate effectively with visuals you will need to include pictures in your sales presentation.

You may talk yourself blue in the face with a visual, but still never get the message across, but show them a picture, draw a plan, ask them to visualise it in their minds eye, and they are there all the way.

Ensure you build plenty of pictures, photographs, etc. into your sales presentation. They don't need to touch it but if they don't see it, they won't buy it.

Through the written and spoken words - these people are called audibles

These are the people who communicate primarily by written and spoken word and are typically teachers, poets, copywriters, writers, etc. It doesn't really matter what it looks like but you need to describe your product, or service, in word pictures.

In order to communicate with audibles develop a good aural presentation. They may use phrase such as 'I understand what you are saying' or 'that sounds ok to me'. With an audible a picture does not say a thousand words.

Most audibles detest poor spelling and grammar and they have been known to walk out of restaurants because the menu has spelling errors in it. 'If they take as much care over the food as they do their spelling, I don't want to eat there' is what they will think.

Through touch, feeling and emotion - these people are called kinaesthetics.

These are the people who will 'flick' a business card - if it's not quality neither is your service, or product, and they won't want it.

Before they buy they must hold whatever it is you have to sell and feel good about it.

Typical occupations are people people, for example: salespeople, social workers, police, etc.

Many highly emotional people are kinaesthetics. In order to effectively sell to kinaesthetics it is necessary to have them touch, feel or hold something during the presentation. For example: if you were selling kitchens take a sample door and worktop for them to experience the touch and smell.

Kinaesthetics are the people who have to pick your product up, off the shelf, even though it says 'please do not touch display' If they don't touch it they won't buy it.

Each of us communicates more effectively, or we are stronger, in one or two and are weaker in one or two.

To the kinaesthetic the audible may as well be speaking in Japanese

So what chance is there to sell to them. By learning how to overcome this you will increase your sales success dramatically

There are a variety of different ways to determine whether a person communicates more strongly as a visual, kinaesthetic or audible and there have been many books written on the subject, most recently under the umbrella of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming).

However the most successful way of dealing with the different types of people you may meet is to realise that you, yourself, are either a visual, audible or kinaesthetic and to develop a sales presentation that will encompass all three types.

Practise particularly on the areas where you are weakest. So, for instance, if you are a visual then the words pictures and touch / feel and emotion side of your presentation will need to be developed, since your preference is to draw things and rely on 'showing' them your product or service.

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The Three Stages of a Sale

The intention of this section is to dispel some of the myths that surround selling and to help you to understand some of the things that work, and some of those that do not, in building your business on a platform of solid sales.

Effective Selling falls into 3 basic areas:

Pre-Sales Preparation

Sales Presentation

Post-Sales Activity

Be prepared to try out the ideas in this section, they have been developed by specialists who have spent decades in a variety of roles within the sales industry. They do work!!

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Pre-Sales Preparation

Success happens between our ears before it happens in fact, and therefore there are a number of steps you should consider, before coming into contact with potential customers (if you currently in business, adopting these techniques will improve your sales. The first area for consideration is developing the right attitude for sales.

In order to relate the topic directly to your business we have suggested how to employ practical ideas that should give an immediate, or short term, result. Please click on each of the topics in turn to be given more information


Remember the Pittenweem Principle? (remind me)

The successful sales person 'sees' themselves making a successful sale before they ever get into the appointment. The unsuccessful salesperson 'sees' rejection, awkward customers, complaints and therefore they are each more likely to achieve what they see.

Whatever you want to happen, 'see' it first, imagine it (with enthusiasm and feeling) and it is far more likely to happen.

Activity: At each appointment, take a little time to relax in your car, or in the reception, or the loo, and allow your mind to work through a successful sale, from beginning to the signing of the order / passing over of the money.

If you work in a retail environment 'see' each customer, as they enter the shop, as a special customer who is going to place a big order. The way you act toward them will be far different to the way you would act if you 'saw' them as a timewaster. whichever way you 'see' them is the way they are more likely to be.

Self talk

Most of us spend more time talking to ourselves than we do talking with other people. In the majority of cases we put ourselves down, thinking about what went wrong, what we cannot do and so on ....

You would not accept this level of criticism from other people, therefore why accept it from yourself?

Spend time building yourself up, realise that if you know and believe in your product, or service, then others are far more likely to.

Activity: Decide on 3 - 5 positive qualities that you would like to develop in yourself and write them down, with an achievement date. Then read them to yourself on a regular basis (every day). For example "I have well developed listening skills and can identify my customer's needs and wants - October 2000"

You will find that you begin to act in the way that you are 'programming' yourself to rather than the negative way in which most people 'programme' themselves to fail

Goal setting

Many business people, even well established ones, wander from one incident to another, never quite knowing where they are, or what they are supposed to be doing (crisis management) . Whatever the size, or state, of your business there is room for improvement.

Human beings thrive on challenge: sports, technology, learning new skills, developing businesses, but unless you set specific goals you never quite know whether you are winning, or losing.

Activity: At the beginning of each week / month write down specific sales targets and refer to them daily. Mark off (on a chart, or in a book) your progress towards those targets - notice that, even if you do not achieve them, you come closer than you have before.

Set a personal reward for achieving a major goal in the near future (say 2 - 3 months from now) and visualise the achievement and the reward.


There will be many times, as you build your business, where you will say I wish I'd said that". Don't worry.

Treat every sales experience as an opportunity for learning, whether you sell or not. Each experience only serves to develop your skills - if you look on it in a positive light.

Activity: Keep a book handy and note down any incidents where you felt you did less than well. Then make a note of how you should have handled it. Look at the book on a regular basis and mark off the ones where you had learned and applied the lesson the next time the same situation arose.

Spend a few minutes, after each sale, reviewing it in your mind - do not indulge in self criticism, it's too easy to do, instead plan a better way to do what you did wrong.


Learn to improve whatever it is that you are doing, nothing is ever perfect. When you do well praise yourself.

Activity: If you have a retail shop then, on a regular basis, step outside and look in 'with the eyes of a potential customer' what can you see? Empty drinks cans around the shop, rubbish behind the counter, graffiti on the walls, scruffy sales staff? They can all be improved.

If you are not in a retail shop (or a place where your customers come to you) then look in the mirror and at your portfolio / sales presenter, 'with the eyes of a potential customer'. Are you impressed with what you see? Would you buy from you?

If not then things can be improved.


Successful sales people recognise that all forms of prejudice are a negative influence on the sales process (and on them as individuals). Don't hide them, or mask them - throw them away, they can only hinder your success in business.

As you become older your 'level of tolerance' becomes smaller and smaller - you like your shower, or bath, exactly right, the television should be set at this volume, the central heating must always be on this setting, you like these sort of people and this sort of music and your favourite colour is so and so and you hate garage music, etc. These are all prejudices that can hinder you in attracting customers.

In addition all customers have prejudices that you must learn to accept (although not necessarily agree with) in order to build a successful business.

Activity: For the next few weeks try turning the heat on your shower down. Decide to do something that you 'used to do' but don't anymore because you haven't got the time - in other words start the process of expanding your tolerances instead of letting them shrink.

The second area to consider is to develop the right image for sales. If you have not covered image in marketing and market research it may be a good idea to look at that area before proceeding.

Before you start to contact clients try to look at you and your company with their eyes. Are you the type of company or person that they are expecting to deal with? They will hold some sort of image in their mind as to the type of person they imagine you to be. If you are too far from that image they become confused and may not deal with you.

Neither you, or your customer, may understand why - they'll just say "I don't like that person, I don't know why, I've just got a feeling"

A well known radio presenter had high listening figures. Most people thought that he was mid thirties, quite good looking, slender, etc. Then his photograph appeared in a local paper (showing him to be mid twenties, chubby, with a shaved head) his listening figures started to fall and he eventually left the radio station.

Customers will prejudge you, your business and product - you cannot stop them, but you can do something about getting the image right.

The third area is to develop a list of all of the features and benefits of your service, or product. People buy benefits, not features, and the successful sales person sells benefits.

The difference between a feature and a benefit is that a feature is what it is, whereas a benefit is what it does, for your customer. A simple example of a features / benefits analysis for a leather case may be as follows:



Black Colour

Made of Leather

Expanding System

Leather padded handle




Doesn't get dirty, looks professional

Long lasting, saves money

Locate files quickly & easily

no sore hands, comfortable


Now draw up a features / benefits analysis for your particular product or service

The fourth area is to develop a list of all of the possible excuses, or objections, that a potential customer could think of why they should not buy your product, or service.

The write down and memorise the answers to those objections, however silly they may seem. You are not trying to 'hard sell' or persuade your customer to buy, at this stage (or ever). However if your product, or service, is good value for money and fulfils the customer's need, or want, and they do not buy it (or if they raise an objection) you have not explained it properly.

It is your fault, there is no such thing as a bad customer, only unenlightened customers and bad sales people.

If you find it difficult to think of objections try this list for a start:

It's too ... Big, Small, Fat, Thin, Red, Blue, Hard. Soft, Old, New, Far Away, Close, Late, Early, Expensive, Cheap, Easy, Difficult, Samey, Different, Plastic ... got the idea?

You're too ... Old, Young, New, Established, Far Away, Near, Scruffy, Smart, Rich, Poor, Expensive, Cheap ...

The fifth area is to develop a professional portfolio to assist in your sales presentation. In order to be most effective it should contain something for the potential customer to look at, read and touch (we will cover this in more detail in the sales presentation itself)

If you have somewhere where customers come to you: i.e. retail, crèche, residential home, restaurant, etc. then the building becomes a major part of your portfolio as well.

The portfolio should tell a story about you, your company and your product, or service, in that order.

Examples of items it may contain are: photographs of work done (before and after) product range, Brochures, Leaflets, Qualifications, Letters of Recommendation, Price Lists, etc.

The portfolio should be appropriate to the business, for example a graphic designer may have a large fold-over portfolio, a builder may have an A4 folder, a photographer may have a A3 folder or book, a video production technician may have a video and a computer specialist may have their portfolio on a laptop.

Whatever the type of portfolio, it should be put together with care and with the potential customer in mind. KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid.

The next step is to develop a formal presentation, where you run through the portfolio in a logical manner 'selling' the customer on the benefits of buying / using your service, or product.

Practise the presentation at least 12 times until it is word perfect. The intention is not to sound like a robot, but to prevent you sounding like a robot!

It's a little bit like learning to drive - once you have driven for so long it becomes a subconscious thing and you no longer need to think about it too much. You can then drive the car, adjust the volume on the radio, smoke a cigarette and answer the mobile all at the same time.

That's what you need to achieve with your sales presentation - in other words you need to reach a level where you can make the presentation, be yourself, answer questions, notice buying signals, drink a coffee and close the sale all at the same time - while appearing totally at ease.

Practising the presentation over and over will help you to do this.

Lack of practise will show the first time you meet a real customer and you'll wish the floor would open up and swallow you.

Finally it's time to telephone for the appointment, place the advertisement and wait for the response, or open the shop door and await the first customer.

It is almost impossible to sell most things over the telephone so ... when you are responding to an enquiry or setting an appointment, don't give too much away. The intention is to get face to face with the person in order to make your presentation.

Humans tend to 'fill in' the details once they know so much (the young lady's hair in market research is usually described as blond but it isn't it's a black and white cartoon!) and then they make a decision based on what they think they know. This usually results in a lost sale.

If there are questions such as "Well, how much is it ...?" it is far better to answer with "It depends what it is you're looking for, the best thing is if you come to see me (I come to see you) and we take a look at it, are you free on ... or ...?" rather than "It's £5.40 per meter." Because then they say "Thank you", then they ring off and you've lost a lead.

Sell the appointment at this stage ... nothing else!

Finally, relax. If you've done everything there is to do ... if you haven't panic and then do it!!


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