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Always ask for the business

MOST people – sellers and buyers – don’t like the ‘hard sell’ approach adopted by some organisations. And in reality, it is not necessary. You can be very effective at selling by using a needs-based approach. If we can get the customer to agree that they have a genuine need, and we can demonstrate to the customer that our product or service meets their need, and we can create a positive emotional response from them, then we’ll be a long way down the path to making a sale. If you manage a sales team, you can use this process to increase sales. • Convene a meeting with your sales team. • Discuss the purpose and the agenda for this meeting. • Provide a list of the selling tips for each person. (see ‘Sales Tips’) • Ask all staff to read the tips to add any new ideas and make a note of the ones they think are most effective. • Add any new ideas to the list. • Ask each person to nominate three to five things on which they will concentrate over the next week (including yourself). • Record these actions against each person’s name. Individuals record their actions on an action plan. • Ask the team to be prepared to come along the following week to discuss how, when, how often and with whom they performed these actions. Explain that you’ll be doing the same. • Discuss within the team how to perform these actions. Use coaching and role play. At the next meeting • Discuss how each of you performed your nominated actions and the results you achieved. • Encourage discussion of tactics to allow team members to learn from each other. • Select new actions to focus on over the next week or keep the focus on the same actions for the next week, month or whatever. • Repeat this process with the team for as long as there is benefit. Sales tips • Ask open questions to clarify the customer’s needs. Listen, paraphrase their needs, and ask if they agree that this is what they are looking for. • Ask questions which explore their ‘unknown’ needs – relate these questions to features or benefits of your product or service, e.g., “how will you pay your bills if you are incapacitated?” • Show with your eyes, tone of voice, smile, and posture that the customer is welcome. • Personalise the product – relate your own experience of the product. • Use language that the customers will understand – avoid jargon. • Give undivided attention when the customer is talking to you – respond sincerely, don’t feign interest or fake it. • Look for short- and longterm gains for the customer – establish long-term relationships. • Ask questions to uncover ‘unknown’ or ‘unexpressed’ needs. • Be able to explain the benefits and advantages of our products or services over our competitors. • Demonstrate a “yes we can” attitude. • Be reliable – do what you say you will do and check to see that the customer is satisfied. • Make notes; don’t rely on your memory. • Don’t take objections personally – it is not you who they are rejecting (unless you have created a negative emotional response). • View objections as opportunities. • Listen carefully for clues as to their ‘unexpressed’ or ‘unknown’ needs – look for opportunities.

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