To be a good salesman, you'll need to understand the customer's perspective while simultaneously staying focused on your own objective of making the sale. Selling is an emotional art that draws on both empathy for your customer and understanding of your own emotions. At the same time, it is a craft and a skill, using time-tested strategies such as moving effectively towards the point of closing, and engaging in constructive problem solving.
How to Close a Sale
No matter how well you've built rapport with a potential customer, you haven't succeeded as a salesperson until you close the sale. Closing a sale requires a careful balance, being assertive and moving forward with your agenda without being aggressive and alienating the customer. Research your prospect ahead of time and make sure you're making your sales pitch to someone who is actually authorized to make the purchasing decision. This step will save time and also enhance your credibility as you show you know something about the company you're approaching. Create a sense of urgency to prevent stalling that can extend into indefinite postponement. Adding an incentive such as a discount for committing before a certain date can encourage a customer to make a decision more quickly. However, don't be so pushy about the opportunities you're offering that your prospects feel pressured and alienated. Be friendly and genuine so you can establish trust and keep communication channels open in case a prospective customer is experiencing doubt.
Selling Over the Phone
As a salesperson, the telephone is both your friend and your foe. On the one hand, it's an easy way to reach people: you simply have to dial. On the other hand, your prospects are busy and may be annoyed to have to answer the phone when they're facing pressing deadlines. There are better and worse times for calling prospects; an MIT study found that web-generated leads are most likely to yield successful phone calls on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and between 4:00 and 6:00 p.m., and between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. Mondays are consistently bad days for sales phone calls, and customers tend to be somewhat willing to talk on Fridays but unlikely to move in the direction of making a commitment. Avoid cold calling by researching your prospects online, reading their blog posts and finding shared acquaintances. Prepare a script ahead of time that allows you to navigate the call based on knowledge and experience, and respond effectively to common objections.
Refining Your Sales Pitch
There is no single sales pitch that will be right for every customer. However, a successful sales pitch will start from the perspective of the potential client, showing an understanding of that person's situation and how your product or service can be useful. The better you know who you are addressing and what that person needs, the more effectively you can present your offerings. Be genuine, do your homework, and speak from a deep knowledge of your own products and their potential to benefit your prospect.
Devra Gartenstein founded her first food business in 1987. In 2013 she transformed her most recent venture, a farmers market concession and catering company, into a worker-owned cooperative. She does one-on-one mentoring and consulting focused on entrepreneurship and practical business skills.