For most businesses, making a sale is all important. However, despite the amount of effort and attention given to getting sales, there is often no attention given to developing and effectively implementing a systematic marketing process. There are many things that can go wrong between the point of the customer first developing an interest in your product or service and the time of making the sale. Despite knowing this, very few businesses actually take proactive steps to nurture the progress of a sale. In sales and marketing, as in life, preparation makes a world of difference.
Be Prepared to Initiate
In many businesses there is no real attempt to initiate action towards a sale. Many sit and wait for customers to come in or for the phone to ring. They hope the customer will initiate the action. This is OK when things are busy, but what happens when trade slows down? Often the first thought is that we had better do some advertising. Unfortunately, random, unfocused, one off type advertising rarely achieves good results. You need to know what initiates action from your customers and then consistently and regularly set that process in motion. This takes a degree of preparation and planning, by analysing customer needs, preparation of a targeted marketing message and delivery through the right media to attract the appropriate amount of attention from the right customers.
Be Prepared to Measure
Is there anything worse when not making enough sales than to spend money on advertising that doesn’t work? The trouble is, many people don’t actually know whether their advertising is working or not. They don’t take the time and effort to monitor and measure the response to advertising. Every time a new customer makes an enquiry or purchase, you should be asking why they came to you. Then note and keep track of the answers. If you can’t tell what advertising works and what doesn’t, you will end up wasting a lot of money. When you spend money on advertising, be prepared to monitor and measure the results. No one really knows what will work and what won’t. You need to measure results and fine tune your advertising so that you do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
Be Prepared to Respond
Even worse than doing advertising that doesn’t work is to be unprepared to deal with the enquiries that do come in. Nothing kills off sales quicker than not giving customers what they expect. You need to be prepared with follow up marketing materials, stock to sell and people who are trained to deal with the inquiries. Sales staff need to be trained and prepared to be customer focused. They should be able to lead the customer in a helpful manner towards making a decision in such a way that no pressure is ever exerted by the sales person or felt by the customer. My experience is that very few sales people ever achieve this level of expertise. How about yours? How much training do you give them?
Be Prepared to Help
Customers hate to be sold, but love having their needs met. In these days where customers are much better informed, most of the old sales techniques of the last decade no longer work. Customers are put off by tired and over used sales techniques. Today selling is about being helpful, providing advice and assistance to customers in matching specific products or services to the customer’s specific needs. You need to be good at discovering those needs to be able to offer helpful solutions. Many sales people jump too quickly over the process of discovering needs and skip straight to the “solutions” stage. This makes selling difficult. When you spend most of your time discovering needs, you build a lot of trust that means when it comes to offering the solution it is usually obvious that it is the right one for the customer and they buy with minimal hesitation. It all comes down to being prepared to help, not sell.
Be Prepared to Compete
Do you worry about your competitors and feel that they are getting too many sales that you should have won? Well, don’t just worry and get annoyed about it. Be prepared to fight back. Find out what the competition does and learn about their strengths and weaknesses. Then get proactive. Attack their weaknesses and downplay their strengths in your marketing and sales efforts. Do a better job of marketing your business and products or service than they do theirs. If you can’t do it yourself, get help.
Be Prepared for Objections
You have probably noticed that most sales don’t go through the process smoothly without the customer raising some objections. Despite this, many sales people seem to be caught out when customers have a problem or need an answer to a concern they have. This is often the case when the same types of objections are raised repeatedly. Good preparation can help in overcoming objections. Get your salespeople to write down objections that stump them. Find the best way to overcome those objections and prepare your sales people to answer them effectively. This is best done by answering the objections before the customer raises them. Do you know what a difference it makes to a sales person’s confidence levels when they feel prepared to tackle objections? It’s enough to make your sales graph go through the roof.