By Roy Barford, head of business development at Flow Communications
1. Put relationships before everything else
The lifetime value of each customer/potential customer you have is massive, when you consider what a multi-year relationship could bring in terms of revenue and referrals. This is, however, dependent on establishing and maintaining relationships, which are based on trust, as well as providing consistent value.
When you sell someone something that ends up not being of value to them, the chances of repeat business and referrals diminish substantially, if not entirely. So always remember the potential value of the long-term relationship.
2. The delivery is far more important than the promise
If your product or service does not live up to the expectations created in the sales process, you have done long-term damage to your reputation.
Manage the expectations of your prospective client carefully before concluding a sale, as these expectations have a huge bearing on customer satisfaction.
It is also important not to compromise on price if this may have a negative effect on delivery.
3. Know your customer’s challenges before making your pitch
Asking questions not only gives you insights into the needs of your customers, but also encourages them to reflect on their situation.
An understanding of your customer’s challenges enables you to tailor your value proposition accordingly, and is especially beneficial if there are multiple products or services that you can offer. The best salespeople are excellent listeners.
4. Existing customers are your best salespeople
If your existing customers are happy with your product or service, they will recommend you to their friends, family and colleagues. With this in mind, make sure your customers are happy with your product or service, and that you are getting feedback from them.
Telling a potential client, “We believe our services could save you money” will simply never be as convincing as being able to say, “80% of customers surveyed found that our services saved them money.”
Think carefully about how you can repurpose positive feedback and reviews from existing customers, and remember that satisfied customers will always be your best salespeople.
5. Discuss budgets verbally before sending quotes/proposals
Dan Lok, an international sales coach with more than four million YouTube subscribers, does not believe in sending written proposals before price has been discussed. He says, “If you cannot close them on the phone, what makes you think a few pieces of paper could close them?”
Wherever possible, Lok will give his price verbally over the phone and then immediately ask, “How do you feel about that?” This gives the potential client no option but to express an opinion, indicate their level of commitment, or state their objections.
From here, his preferred approach is to send a written “agreement” that includes the price, as well as the terms of his service.
If you simply send through an email quotation you lose the opportunity to properly convey your value offering, and you risk losing the opportunity to address objections that the prospective customer may have.
6. When in doubt, ask this question …
“What would it take for us to do business today?”
This question gives the prospective customer the opportunity to present their ideal scenario, and prompts them to highlight what is most important to them (i.e. price, payment terms, quantities, guarantees, etc.).
The answer to this question often reveals obstacles to closing the sale, which could include:
- You are not speaking to the decision-maker
- The prospective customer is locked into an existing contract that they would need to exit
- The prospective customer’s expectations or requirements do not align with your offering
Whatever the case, this direct question is a great way to cut to the chase. You don’t have to agree to the prospective customer’s scenario, but at least you’ve outlined the points for discussion.
7. Be resilient, be inquisitive and be adaptable
Rejections happen, but for every rejection you get there are many more opportunities ahead, if you keep your mindset and your energy right.
Wherever possible, find out why you were not successful with a sale, as the feedback may just give you an advantageous insight towards adapting your approach. As the saying goes, there’s winning and there’s learning.