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Business revenue is vital to the success of any SME with too much focus on client-service sure to send you broke. These steps will help any SME achieve an effective sales process to benefit all sales staff.

Today, probably more than ever, every business owner as well as their sales and service staff are faced with the ‘sameness syndrome,’ which is created by increased competition. Regardless of what is being sold to your clients, there is a big chance that they could probably get the same product or service somewhere else, for the same price and quality. When customers have choice, but can’t see or experience any real point of difference that is of value to them, they will more often than not, simply be making their buying decision based on price.

So how do small and medium businesses compete? Unfortunately, because of misplaced ‘client-service’ focus, many sales and service staff take the quickest route to differentiation and start playing the discounting game, which simply creates a commodity market that is on a slide to lower and lower profit margins. Some businesses even intentionally promote the game with advertising slogans like: “Our prices aren’t the real price. Everything is negotiable!”

Profitable sales are possible for SMEs when the sales and service staff are confident and comfortable to provide advice and make informed recommendations, as opposed to merely serving by asking ‘may I help you?’ or buckling to discounting when the client asks if they can you something at a cheaper price.

One of the often neglected, and yet main skill development areas for sales and service personnel is that selling is a process. The following are six core steps that will help SMEs towards an effective sales process along with some ‘quick tips’ that will benefit each and every sales and service personnel:

1. Build rapport: This is a combination of attitude and skill and the quick tips are to demonstrate a genuine willingness to help and understand each client’s individual circumstances

2. Ask questions: Often the poorest skill demonstrated by sales and service personnel and requires a combination of information-based questions as well as value-discovery questions that have the capacity to engage and motivate the client

3. Show value: Rather than just going through the product or service features and benefits, skilled sales and service people discuss and demonstrate product or service direct value-matches with each individual client’s specific situation, wants and needs and circumstances.

4. Identify obstacles or objections: By asking clients for their feedback on each value-match, clients are less likely to raise obstacles or objections because what’s being discussed is based on what the client has told the sales and service person is important to them.

5. Confirm the sale: Instead of 101 ways to ‘close a sale’ there are really only two ways. Either ask for a buying decision, or (and this is moving from service to sales) make a confident and genuine recommendation on what the customer needs to do to experience the value they seek.

6. Stay in touch: This is not always easy, but it’s often what happens after the sale that builds more rapport with customers. A simple phone call, thank you card or enquiry email, just to check that the customer is happy with their purchase, is valuable.

Successful selling for SMEs starts with an attitude of confidence in the sales and service provider that when they sell their product or service, they create value for each and every client and just as importantly, that the way that they sell ensures that each and every client will feel comfortable and confident that they are making a wise buying decision.

– David Penglase is founder and director of Sales Coach Central (www.SalesCoachCentral.com), recently awarded the National Speakers Association of Australia (NSAA) 2008 Speaker Hall of Fame Educator Award For Excellence, as well as the coveted Nevin Award.

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David Penglase

David Penglase

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