One of my first jobs, even before the furniture company, was selling vitamins in a one-on-one setting. Then I spent most of much of my previous life with furniture in sales, performing and teaching them. I spent a lot of time observing what my sales people were doing and how the best ones operated. These are the best 3 pieces to any puzzle when learning how to close more sales with consumers.
In sales, there is a lot to take in and there is a lot of reacting, not just doing. Meaning, walking up to a press in a factory and repeating the same process all day is not the same as making sales calls all day. When on sales calls you’ll have different objections to overcome, personalities to figure out, and rapport to build with each individual customer.
So how can we make that sales job more solid in order to teach people to be better at making sales?
We have to determine which pieces of the sales process are concrete. Some of the best sales people ‘just wing’ some sales calls and get lucky because they have the personality for sales. But the best ones have a plan and they know when to ‘wing it’ and when to go to what they know.
These are the 3 pieces of a sales that I like to call “The Skeleton.” These are concrete and should not be changed, no matter what scenario is in front of the sales person. If these can be done, than there is time and a place to ‘wing it’ while pitching something.
DISCLAIMER: All the terminology I’m using here comes from my furniture days, but the concepts have been shaped so I don’t give away any of their trade secrets and still convey the theory.
1.) The Greet
In any sales process there is a greeting period where the sales person and the consumer are getting to know each other. In the animal world this equates to butt sniffing, but here it’s more accurately characterized by confusion and cautious body language from the consumer paired with an eagerness from the sales person.
This is a crucial stage for the sales person. Starting off on the wrong foot makes a sale infinitely more difficult and is one of the main reasons I’ve seen sales people blow a transaction. The best way to start off on the right foot is to greet people the same way each and every time. Now this doesn’t mean act like a robot, it means to practice the first few things that come out of your mouth.
In furniture it was 3 lines about “who we are/what we offer, why you need to be ready to buy today, and why you should trust us” that were to be spouted off immediately after they introduced themselves to a customer. This was their way of taking control of the situation.
Every sales person has their second most anxious moment when someone walks through the door. Scripting the greet is the best way I’ve seen to calm them down. If there are things that need to be prepared such as a demonstration or a tour, this is the time to do it and get all the butterflies out at once.
Make sure this greet is not cheesy and it ensures to the consumers that you are here to sell them something. We all hear that nobody wants to be “sold something” but what that really means is nobody wants to be lied to. Be upfront and honest with your intentions and you’ll gain the trust of the consumers.
2.) The Close
We’ve skipped some major dialogue here and I’m sure there will be some critics ready to rip me apart for it. But the next concrete step is the close. After someone is greeted, there will be a rapport building time where a good sales person will find out what it is the customer needs. This is done through questions and answers, not by a sales person telling the consumers what they need.
The reason the Q & A sessions aren’t a concrete part of this equation is because every industry and product is different, just like every consumer. Some people want to know about warranties, others only care about price, and some want to know every detail no matter how insignificant. If you try and standardize the sales process too much you end up with robots that are too busy trying to ask the right questions instead of making people feel comfortable and listening to them.
The closing of a sale should be the same every time. The same words should come out of your mouth each time, the only thing that changes will be the products and/or prices. If you can condition your mind and your mouth to say the same thing every time, the same way with confidence, your success rate will increase.
I said the second most anxious part of the sale was when someone was being greeted, but the most anxious part is when a sales person is asking for the sale. Athletes have done this for decades, calm the nerves by practice and improve the performance. Use muscle memory to become confident in asking for that sale.
Be sure The Close is delivered in the form of a question. I’ve heard too many sales people just throw out a price in the form of a statement, evoking no response from a customer. Then I’ll come back and say the same thing they did, but ask a question instead of making a statement, and the consumers “magically” want to buy from me.
Questions prompt answers, statements prompt silence. Figure out how to word your close into a question and your success rate will improve.
3.) The Referral Process
Since most sales people are commission based, this is essential to their long-term success. After the customer has given a yes and the transaction has been closed, this is the time to ask for referrals. Some sales people ask for names and numbers of people they can follow up with (insurance agents) and some just ask you to send as many people their way as possible (furniture sales people).
Whatever your method consists of, do it. Do it well, and do it every time. You have already closed the sale, you have already met your objective, what’s the worst thing that can happen? They’ll say no or they just won’t send you any, no big deal.
When you get in the habit of asking for referrals each and every time, you build good habits and those people that are willing to send you referrals will get a genuine pitch on why they should do so. If you only do it some of the time, your referral pitch will be weak and those people that are willing to send you people won’t get the proper message. You know what that means? Confusion for them and no referrals for you.
Just like The Greet and The Close, The Referral Process is essential to closing more sales. Be sure to ask for referrals every time you have a customer in front of you, you will become good at it and you will begin to see your referral business take an upward turn as well.
Please feel free to contact me if you think I’m full of crap or if you have any questions about my theories I’ve outlined, I’ll be happy to expound on anything I’ve talked about here. This post came at the suggestion of a friend and fellow blogger, Ryan Ard, check out his blog here. It’s been fun to explore the ins and outs of the sales game again.
Now go S.S.S.!
Have a great snow day!