The Sunday Feed
The fine art of closing the Sale!
It is surprising that, the moment I use the word sale or salesman, you are inundated with a lot of negative emotions like, push, thrust, cheating, liar etc.
This happens because we have been approached by a lot of people who wanted to sell us things that we either did not need or were spurious.
Also, Salesman/ Saleswoman is not seen as a very decorated designation and a lot of people try to circumnavigate this by using substitutes like consultants or advisors.
Well as long as you are happy, use what you like. But I don’t mind being called a salesman. I think it is a quality not many people possess.
Having said that, I think it is never too late to learn a skill. Here are some ways in which you can become better at it.
1. Visualise: Russell Brand in his book says that, “Every building you walk past is a thought someone had in his/ her mind. They then went ahead and realised it. Similar is the case with the sales process. Visualise the process before you execute it.
2. Connect: The reason why most people come out as salesmen is because they never connect with the prospect. This means that to connect, you need to understand the problem before thrusting your solution down his/ her throat.
3. Listen: “You only get one chance.” This is more relevant in sales than anything else. In order to avoid this mistake of going down the wrong path, you need to listen before you say what you want to say. The moment you talk first, the prospect will immediately withdraw if they think that you are not giving a solution to their problem but selling a product.
4. Analysing the prospect for better results: A good analysis of the prospect will definitely give you better results because you will be better prepared for the questions that will be thrown at you.
Here are the archetypes of prospects you might come across:
1. Rational prospect: From your initial conversation of about a minute, you should be able to pick up if the prospect is rational. Rational prospects will use the words like, “cost”, “benefit”, “time”, “advantage”, “saving”, “money.” For these types of prospects, it is always better to have your numbers rehearsed and handy.
2. Emotional prospect: Most people might think they are rational but actually they are highly driven by emotion. “Safety”, “Security”, “guarantee”, “future” are some of the words they will use more than others. The best way to ensure them is by telling them in as many words that the product offers all they are asking for and more. But make sure your product does provide them.
3. Indecisive prospect: These are the types of customers who say that they will do what is necessary to become a customer but never revert. Do not push them because they will become suspicious. However, you can assist them with filling the paperwork. The moment they see something in writing, they will be more willing to take the next step.
4. Dreamers: I have learnt a lot about sales from the world’s largest gym called “Fitness First.” I used to be an Assistant GM for a short period of time at a club in the city in Sydney CBD. The one thing they told us to do is in the beginning always ask the customer as to what kind of equipment will they use — weights or cardio. The logic behind this is that when you do this, the customer visualises that they have joined the gym and have started to train.
5. Cynics: There will be a lot of customers who will never believe anything you tell them. It is not their fault. It’s their DNA. Do not waste time with these types of people. Let them pass! Arguing with them will affect your next pitch.
Like anything else, a salesman or a saleswoman who is better prepared is always likely to win. Here are some ways in which you can prepare yourself before you approach the customer.
1. Sing your favourite song: I am a music producer and every morning, I exercise my vocal chords for 3 minutes. This warms it up and my communications are always strong and clear. Also, singing puts you in a good mood.
2. Do your homework: Understand the product thoroughly. The more complicated the product, the more time you need to spend in understanding it.
3. Keep a cheat sheet: Always keep a printout of the product description with you so that if you get confused, you can refer to it immediately.
4. Speak the truth: Sometimes, we are thrown questions we cannot answer immediately. Be honest and tell the prospect that you will prefer to find the right answer and speak the truth rather than bluff. Take time-off and get back to the prospect.
5. Talk like a friend: Do not get too casual while talking to the prospect but at the same time do not have too much formality. However, maintain the business decorum and choose your words accordingly.
6. It is a numbers game: The more you talk to different customers, the better you will get at the trade. But remember to evaluate every conversation and thrive to become better.
7. Never be rude: The customers are not always correct but no one has the right to be rude to them.
8. Keep the doors open: Always part ways by saying that if you ever change your mind in future, you are always welcome.
John Khalkho — CEO Dolores Education
Photo: Andrea Piacquadio