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© 2004. Peggie Arvidson-Dailey
Running a business is easy compared to the act of selling. As a small business owner you started your business to deliver a superior product or service, not to become a salesperson. None-the-less you must master basic sales skills or risk losing your business due to lack of clients! Here are 1o tips to help you turn those inquiries into sales.
1. Define the benefits to the customer. You’ve found their pain, now you need to come up with a cure by answering their question, “What’s in it For ME?” For instance, if you are pet-care provider you “make it possible for a couple to enjoy their honeymoon in Hawaii without feeling guilty about leaving their pet.”
2. Qualify before you present. Okay, you know their pain and can cure it. You now need to know if the person on the other end of the phone or e-mail query is likely to buy from you. Take time up front to ensure this a good prospect for you. When you qualify your prospect you want to know:
a. Is this person the decision maker?
b. Does this person have a real need for what I’m selling?
c. Does this person have the budget necessary to pay for my product or service?
d. When does this person wish to start using my product or service?
3. Only sell to the decision maker. No matter how well your product or service solves a client’s problem, and no matter how wonderfully you articulate that benefit – if you are selling to someone who doesn’t have the authority to purchase your product or service, you’ve wasted your time.
4. It’s about the relationship! Every interaction you have with the potential client either builds or destroys their trust in you. As Henry Ward Beecher said, “Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you. Never excuse yourself.” This a great mantra for anyone involved in the sales cycle. Trust takes a long time to build and it’s very easy to destroy. Make sure every part of your relationship with the prospect is held to your highest standard.
5. Preparation, preparation, preparation. Do you know what you want the customer do at every step of the process? Set goals for each step of your sales process, as well as overall sales goals for the month, quarter and year. Create an outline and script to get you from an inquiry to a sale. Tweak your outlines and scripts to fit each individual customer. One size does not fit all.
6. Questions and objections are a natural part of the sales process. During your preparation compile a list of every possible question and objection that you might hear. Now spend some time creating a list of responses. Your responses should lead back to questions eliciting more information about your customer’s pain.
7. The issue of price. If the first question they ask is “how much does it cost?” Don’t beat around the bush, answer their question right away with a statement like, “depending on the service plan you select our rates range from XX to XXX, I would like to spend a couple of minutes finding out specifically which plan is right for you.” If they are comfortable with your price range, they will continue the conversation. Remember, part of qualifying is determining whether your potential customer has the budget to buy from you.
BONUS TIP: By answering their question head-on you are making it clear that you are a ‘straight shooter,’ a great way to build trust!
8. Make it easy to buy from you. Has this ever happened to you? You find a great product on a website or in a store, and you are ready, willing and able to buy, only to find out a) you can’t find the “purchase now” button on the site, b) they need to find out if they still have the item, or c) the clerk is busy on the phone? Depending on your mood and free time you may wait, but more than likely you leave without your purchase. Is it infinitely easy for your customers to buy your product the first time? Make it even easier for them to make a repeat purchase!
9. Ask for Feedback. No matter how good at sales you become, you must keep your ‘edge.’ Ask questions to find out what you’re doing well, what your customers wish you did and why potential customers did not buy from you. Use what you learn in your preparation and goal setting process.
10. Have Fun. Running your own business should be fun. You’ve dedicated your career to something you love. Let your personality shine and make sure you find ways to include your customers and associates in your good time!
The Sales process does not have to be a dreaded part of running your business. It’s the best way to watch your revenue grow. Evaluate your current process and implement any of the missing tips to watch your sales success grow.
Peggie Arvidson-Dailey is the founder of Pet Care Business University and the Pet-Care Business Success System™. She is the author of several articles on small business success and has been a radio guest on the topic of Customer Satisfaction. As a trainer and coach she has helped people across the country create and build the pet-care business of their dreams. Visit http://www.peggiespets.com for more information.
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