For our Let’s Talk discussion this week, we are talking about selling – the crucial element that keeps all businesses alive.
The ability to sell your idea, your service and your product to stakeholders and customers is absolutely vital. All business owners must possess some level of understanding of how to sell.
Arguably all employees, not just the sales teams, have a responsibility to sell the company or organisation and the brand they work for too. If the customer service teams can’t sell how great their customer service is and how amazing the brand they work for is, through their communications and passion, you are fighting a losing battle overall.
Sales is often off-putting for many people to talk about; maybe it conjures up a vision of pushy cold calls that we have all been the unwanted recipients of. There can be a lot of pressure for salespeople to say the right things and reach their targets, handling rejection and overcoming many obstacles to make the sale or close the deal.
However, if you have a true passion and backing for your product or service, does that make the selling part almost effortless?
What are the tips and tricks all salespeople, small business owners and startup founders need to know? We asked the experts to find out!
Sabri Suby, founder of King Kong, Australia’s fastest growing digital marketing agency
Many businesses go headfirst into ‘selling’ to potential customers at the first chance, which is just like asking a stranger to marry you. Instead, you need to turn cold leads into warm, receptive potential customers by not approaching your prospects with a full frontal assault.
Businesses need to understand their ideal client. This goes beyond the usual demographics such as age and gender, you need to know what they think, feel, and what makes them tick.
Don’t expect someone to browse your website for two to three minutes and then make a purchase. You can’t expect to convert more than 1-5% of your leads unless you build trust first.
Phoebe Netto, founder of Pure Public Relations purepublicrelations.com.au
All businesses have this in common: they need people to know, like, and trust them, and they need something that compels them to act. These are the fundamentals of generating sales and customer acquisition. And while small and medium sized businesses tend to be more likeable than bigger businesses that need to work harder to create personal connection, smaller businesses need compete with bigger marketing budgets in order to be known.
This is where PR can bring you larger audiences, build credibility and trust, and compel your ideal customers to get in touch. It says to your target market: a journalist, publication or influencer that knows my interests or industry, or this government official, or this industry association or business award, chose to support or seek out the advice of this business. Therefore, they must be top of their field and I am more likely to trust them and feel they are right for me.
David Hewitt, co-founder of video platform Clipchamp
The basics I have learnt during my sales career start with truly understanding your customer’s pains and requirements, in relation to the sales opportunity. Questioning technique is important – ask the customer open, probing and confirming questions and remember your ears are more important than your mouth.
Once you understand the customer’s requirements, you can develop the right solution and importantly determine the value your product and/or service can deliver the customer. Support proposals and recommendations with credible project analysis and market evidence (e.g. case studies).
Avoid chasing every sales opportunity you come across and instead assess each opportunity based on a number of measures, including but not limited to solution fit, value delivered, relationship with decision makers and influencers, size of opportunity, win probability, cost of sale and level of competition. Be prepared to let go of opportunities that do not add up.
Steven Hoyle, Commercial Director, Employsure
No matter what product or service you’re selling, remember customers don’t want to be aggressively sold to. However, being assertive isn’t aggressive. It’s about posing the right questions and communicating the right information with confidence. Assertive behaviour is remembered because you impressed your prospect or client with your solution and met their needs.
Assertive versus aggressive behaviour:
- calm and positive vs irrational and condescending
- enthusiastic vs fake
- honest vs manipulative
- direct vs intimidating
- understanding vs uninterested
- respectful vs harassing
Some salespeople simply develop an aggressive sales demeanour all on their own. This can largely be because of the pressure to make sales targets or because they have modelled their sales technique on the wrong person.
Aggressive sales tactics won’t win you sales, at least not in the long run. It will only reflect poorly on the organisation you represent.
So, like all organisations that rely on sales, at Employsure, we remunerate our staff via a mix of fixed and variable elements. More importantly, the values our salespeople demonstrate are integral to our business. Our salespeople are recruited, trained, measured, recognised, and developed based on their demonstration of values such as honesty and treating prospects and clients as king.
Charles Heunemann, VP and Managing Director in APAC, Natterbox Limited
When it comes to sales, the number one ‘trick’ that sales people need to remember is that the customer is always the centre of our business, making sure we always have their interests, needs and issues in mind. This is what ultimately builds a strong and ongoing relationship with customers.
In my opinion, a phone call should be the first interaction you have with a prospective customer as email and text can come across as impersonal and relies more on the person on the other end to read and respond to what you have sent. By calling first, you show that you care about what that prospect has to say while getting your message across.
The real value sales people create for businesses through new and continuing relationships lies in the personal human connections created through conversations that improve and add value for both parties. After all, without customers there is no business. Customers want their needs and concerns to feel valued and understood and one of the best ways to do this is by ensuring clear, open and consistent communication at all stages of their customer journey, including once they are successfully on-boarded.
Elliot Hayes, Cofounder and Director, Smart Energy
The most successful salespeople make it look easy, but superior performance usually shows a salesperson has taken the time to sharpen their pitch and skills to better help their prospects.
Listening to your customers is key. As is making sure your offering and objectives align to their needs. This requires doing your homework and being an expert in the industry you’re playing in. It also pays to explore different possibilities with your potential customer.
After-sale activity and support is another huge part of it. Sticking around and following up after the sale to ensure value is realised by your customer demonstrates your determination to build a relationship, and shows them you’re willing to go the extra mile to support them.