Sales has historically been the hardest part for me in starting a business.
I usually don’t enjoy talking with salespeople and do everything in my power to avoid salespeople when making any type of purchase. I’ve long held the idea that there’s something really wrong about the idea of selling people something they don’t really want. I believed for many years this was all that salespeople were up to. Then I picked up the book “Integrity Selling for the 21st Century” by Ron Willingham. I found his sales strategy refreshing and current in today’s online sales world. He calls his method “Integrity Selling”. Thankfully, the world is changing and a demand for integrity is one of the most important factors in creating a successful company. After reading Willingham’s book I’ve realized my thoughts on salespeople weren’t truly accurate. I realized maybe those nice people were trying to help? In fact, a good salesperson is actually a very helpful tool in making an investment of any kind. And, the right salesperson can actually mean the difference between purchasing something of great value to your business, and purchasing something that is a waste of money. Below are some of ideas my favorite ideas from the book:
Here’s 7 Tips on How to Sell a Product:
1. Selling is a mutual exchange of value
A long time ago when humans used to purchase things by exchanging items of equal value with other items of equal value, this was more obvious. Most likely you would exchange a chunk of gold for a hand towel. Maybe 1,000 hand towels that you could sell at the marketplace instead. People work hard for their money and when they decide to spend it, they want to believe what they are getting in return is of equal value to their hard earned money.
2. Selling isn’t something you do to people, it’s something you do for and with them
The way I see it, is salespeople are there to help potential customers find the exact right item for them. If I go into a store and do not have a ton of knowledge about a particular item I am thinking about buying (say, a television), I’m pretty likely to ask a sales person for help in picking out the perfect television set. A good sales person will stay on target with what I came into the store to purchase, and if they are really good will help me decide several other complementary items that can go with my new TV, like an Apple TV or a special remote. This is how proper up-selling is done. I don’t however want my salesperson to start showing me vacuum cleaners, washer and dryers, and cell phones. A truly wonderful sales person will see this and keep me focused on the main product which makes me feel like they are doing something for and with me, rather than to me.
3. Developing trust and relationship with your customers is #1
If you want to sell your products, you’re going to need to build trust in your brand and a friendly relationship with your customers in order for them to spend their hard earned dollars with your company. If you run out on the street and just start yelling for people to buy your products, their probably going to run in the other direction. But if you make friends with your customers, show them your value and then present some items they might be in need of, you’re going to develop a trusting and mutually beneficial relationship with your customers and you community, and in turn drive more sales.
4. Truth, respect and honesty create long-term relationships with customers
This is the biggest principal in sales for 2016. If you are truthful with your customers, even with some of the negatives of your business or products, you are more likely to win them over on a personal level then on just a business level. When you make a mistake, admit it immediately and do whatever you can to remedy the situation. Customers are much more likely to forgive mistakes which are fixed, then mistakes which are left alone. Additionally, make sure you clearly state what you are selling so that customers feel confident in their purchase. You don’t want to create a negative situation when you sell someone something that they didn’t realize they were getting.
5. Do not pressure your customers into buying
Pressuring someone into buying something is such an aggressive sales strategy. Customers innately will pressure themselves into buying something if they believe they really need, want or could use the product. There’s no need to take it a step further and add an additional source of external pressure. I like to to offer the product or solution, then let the customers decide if it’s right for them. If it is, then you’ve made the sale. If it’s not, at least you’ve created a good repore with your customers, and if and when they decide to return, you’ve already made your pitch. Additionally, they’re much more likely to talk about the great service they received with their friends the next time your business is mentioned.
6. Avoid being a swindler
You want to make sure your customers aren’t feeling like there is a possibility of them being swindled. Back in the day it was a popular thing to sell people things they didn’t need. Slimy salespeople would get excited thinking they got one over on their customers (i.e. the stereotypical 1970’s used car dealers). These days, because everything is so transparent, and sites like Yelp help customers avoid swindling salespeople, the rules have changed. The last thing I want to experience when going into a store to purchase something is someone pressuring me to buy something I do not need. This is why it’s so important that both parties feel like there is a mutual exchange happening in order for the sale to even get started.
7. Negotiation is never manipulation
This is the final tips I want to share today because I feel like it’s the most important. Just because you are selling something to someone, it doesn’t mean you need to manipulate them into buying it. A good sales pitch, which includes honesty, transparency and usefulness of the product will help you make the sale much easier, and with better results after the sale is made, than if you are lying and manipulating through the sale. Also, people can sniff out this type of behavior pretty easily and if you’re caught doing it there goes all your trust with them, along with the sale. What is your favorite sales tip? Comment below!
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