When Paul Greenfield became sales director of a small Hampshire specialist computer company two years ago its turnover was £80,000 and falling. This year it expects a turnover of at least £200,000 and a 30 per cent rise in profit.
The reason for the dramatic turnaround: Paul Greenfield is a super-salesman who knows how to clinch a deal with retail buyers. His secret: “Making a sale is usually no more than narrowing the distance between you and the buyer.
*“If you can show that taking your product is the right decision then even the most reluctant buyer will find it hard not to do business with you.”* But Paul adds: *“None of this will mean anything if you give up too easily – and in my experience, the vast majority of salespeople do just that.”*
Most of us know what he means. We’ve got a smashing product or service. All we need is a major retailer to snap it up. And that means doing a successful deal with company buyers… if you can convince them that they would be crazy not to do business with you!
And that’s the problem. According to a recent CBI study, 44 per cent of sales people simply give up after a buyer picks holes in their sales pitch. A further 22 per cent call it a day if there are any further problems
After the fourth lot of objections some 90 per cent of salespeople have decided that the prospect was a non-starter, leaving about 10 per cent still trying to win the business. The study found that nearly 70 per cent of buyers will raise five or more objections during the negotiations before finally signing on the dotted line
So think about it – that persistent 10 per cent of salespeople are left to win all that available business. “The sales opportunities are there,” Paul Greenfield says.” It just depends how badly you really want the business.”
Consultants say that once you have learned the art of persistence it’s not all that difficult to acquire the other essential selling skills. Here are the basic pointers to successful selling to retail buyers:
Know your product or service inside out. Pinpoint the things that make it unique – does it have universal appeal or is it a niche product?
Understand what your competitors are doing and find out what gaps there are in the market.
Work out the motivation of potential buyers and match your proposals to their needs. Then you will be on common ground.
Build up a profile of the buyer you are selling to. Says Lewis Franks, a business performance consultant: “Salespeople will often ring 50 potential customers in a day looking for orders. I prefer that they thoroughly research 10 potential customers and do a thought-out tailor-made presentation.”
Listen as well as talk to potential customers. Lewis Franks advises: “A lot of salespeople just deliver a monologue but have no idea what the customer wants because they haven’t asked.”
Start small – don’t try to sell the whole solution straight away. Instead, offer a short-term trial and if that is a success then talk about possible long term options. Keep the decision process simple.
Emphasise value and minimise cost. Start with your lowest prices and move upwards while stressing the product’s advantages.
Build customer confidence – they are more likely to buy if shown proof that other people have used your products and benefitted from them.
### Top ten hates
An international Chamber of Trade study reveals what business buyers most dislike about salespeople.
* They don’t know anything about our business
* They waste my time
* They call too often
* They don’t call often enough
* They miss appointments
* They break promises
* They make extravagant claims
* They have no authority to negotiate
* They don’t call on me first
* They hesitate to ask for an order