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)
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Learn to improve whatever it is that you are doing, nothing is ever perfect. When you do well praise yourself.
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.
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:
Made of Leather
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:
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!!