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Nine ways to make more sales

Not everyone is a natural salesperson. If this sounds like you, read our nine tips to help you improve your sales technique – and boost your bottom line

Knowing how to sell is a crucial part of running your own business, but not everyone is a natural salesperson. Thankfully, there are simple steps you can take to improve your sales technique. Understanding why your customers buy (and why they don’t) is the first step.

Here’s a quick guide for entrepreneurs who find selling difficult. It will show you how to make more sales, which in turn will increase your profits and cashflow (the real benefit).

FACT ONE: If your customers are not listening it is not their fault! It is your fault. You are not communicating in a way that they can hear your message.

FACT TWO: Your sales presentations/offers are probably all wrong.

I expect that several years ago you attended a sales course or read some books that told you how to present yourself. Most people attended a similar course so most presentations follow a familiar pattern. More importantly, that pattern is all wrong: it is dull and familiar, and crucially, it does not get you results.

A quick example: A consultant visits us and his typical, predictable, mind-numbing presentation goes: “My name is… I work for… and we employ x people… based in… set up in… and what we do is specialise in…” This is dreadful. It is all about them and not about me. It is all about what they do and not what I want.

Eventually the salesman got close to the climax and I started to wake up a little: “and the solutions we offer include…” (and I was thinking “yes, but how does that help me and my particular problem?”) and finally he reached his peak with the inevitable words “and as a result you will be more profitable”.

At last he talks about what I am interested in. But he has offered a one-size fits all solution and he has offered it too late. He still hasn’t asked me about my problem or what I am looking for. Clearly he is not really interested in helping me; he is only interested in making a sale so I graciously boot him out of the office, thank him for his time while wishing he hadn’t wasted mine.

So…why does every sales presentation bore you to death before telling you what you want? Don’t give answers until you know what the customer’s problems/issues/needs are.

FACT THREE: People have problems/hurts/needs that they want sorted out. You need to know what they are. To find out what their issues are you need to ask questions, shut up and listen to the answers.

FACT FOUR: Customers are only interested in how you can help them relieve the pain or get more pleasure. I repeat, to find out what their issues are you need to ask questions, shut up and listen to the answers.

FACT FIVE: People will buy from you if you are able to cut to the chase. Tell them what they will get… Don’t bore them. Be precise and focused. Don’t waste their time.

FACT SIX: People don’t buy from you for what you do but for what your product or service will do for them (probably after you’re gone). This is what they want to know: how will they be better off after you’ve gone? Suddenly, selling becomes easy. Find out their hurts/problems/issues, find out what THEY want after you’ve left, focus on telling them how you can deliver it.

FACT SEVEN: Customers want you to make it absolutely clear what they will get by buying from you. So, tell them how you will make things better for them.

FACT EIGHT: Customers love it when you make it clear that you can deliver. So tell them: “We can do that” and give them some brief proofs or examples. However, never make a promise that you can’t keep.

FACT NINE: Customers love it when you shut up. To reiterate: ask questions to establish your customers’ needs, but then stop talking and listen carefully to the answers. Only then, once you’ve established what they’re looking for, explain how you can provide solutions.

So, what I am saying is as follows: be clear about what the customer will get and how it will improve things for them. Remember that people buy for one of two reasons: to be happier or more profitable, i.e. they want more profit/income/sales/time and/or less risk/costs/stress.

If you follow the approach outlined above several things will start to happen:

  • You will clarify your offering in your own mind, which will make it easier for you to communicate (by email, phone, letter, advert)
  • Your communication becomes simpler and more powerful
  • Your communication becomes obvious - it becomes crystal clear what you are saying
  • You will be remarkable - you will stand out from the crowd and you will be talked about. Someone who offers simple and obvious solutions will get the business.

If you think you can’t sell then you are probably right, you won’t sell. The techniques above will put you in a different state of mind, “Can sell, and will sell”.

Robert Craven is an entrepreneur, businessman and author who has run Mastermind Groups and action-centred learning with Warwick Business School, Business Growth Programme and London’s Accelerated Growth Programme among others. His latest book, Grow Your Service Firm, is available now . He is managing director of The Directors’ Centre.

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