More Sales with Less Selling
By: Charlie Cook
Have you ever passed by a bakery display case without feeling the
urge to buy at least one cookie, dessert or cinnamon bun? Have you ever
taken a child into a candy store and not had them ask to buy at least one
of their favorite sweets?
The smell of fresh baked goods and the memory of the taste of a candy bar
makes us want to buy more. The owners of bakeries and candy stores don't
have to spend a lot of time extolling the merits of their goods or the
length of time they've been in business; they can concentrate on helping us
satisfy our appetites.
Wouldn't you like to be in a similar situation with your marketing? How
would you like to have prospects who were so eager to buy that you didn't
have to sell, but could focus instead on taking more orders?
If you are like most small business owners you'd like to increase your
sales but you don't enjoy selling. You don't want to be seen as a pushy
person, whether it is on the phone, in person or in your marketing
materials. The problem is that you don't sell baked goods or candy -
instead you may sell accounting, design, engineering, or informational
products and services.
What can you do to increase your sales and spend less time selling?
Stop worrying about closing the sale. Focus instead on understanding what
your prospect wants, and open the door to a mutually profitable
relationship. When a prospect thinks that all you care about is getting
their money, they'll view the relationship negatively and this can easily
kill the sale.
Once a prospect is at your web site or on the phone with you, they've
demonstrated an interest in finding a solution to one of their problems or
concerns. Take the next step and demonstrate your interest in them. Use
your conversation or your site to ask them questions that will identify
what they want to accomplish and how you can help them.
Help them clarify the problem they are trying to solve. Even our prosperous
bakery owner has questions to ask. Is the hungry customer looking for bread
for lunch, or a dessert for a celebration? How many people are they
feeding? Once you have all the details, you confirm it by repeating the
information back to them. "You are planning a party for five couples and
want a chocolate cake with mocha frosting. Is that right?"
When your customer says yes, you've got your order. You just used a series
of questions to get your prospect to tell you what they wanted. You didn't
have to sell anything: they sold themselves. You helped them get what they
wanted. Isn't that what you'd prefer to be doing?
Obviously, the questions you use to "sell" are going to be unique to the
products and services you provide. Remember that when people come to you,
they are hungry for a solution. The questions you ask can help them define
exactly what they need and, more importantly, what they want. Then you can
take their order.
Does this approach apply to selling less tangible and less immediately
satisfying services and products?
Imagine you're a financial advisor and you're having an initial
conversation with a prospect. You could launch into an explanation of your
services and the seven ways you help clients grow assets using a strategic
mix of stocks, bonds, currency and commodities. If you did this you'd be
likely to miss connecting with them. Or you could ask them a couple of
questions to identify what they want.
Most people have a common set of concerns related to managing their assets.
Use these to formulate your questions. Ask them:
- Do they have an investment strategy?
You could use a similar set of questions to ask them about their taxes,
investments, and whether their individual financial strategies complement
or conflict with each other.
- What is it?
- What have the results been over the last five years?
- How risky or safe do they feel their strategy is?
- Are they happy with the investment return of their portfolio?
- Do they want to know how to get better returns without additional risk?
Whether you sell cakes and cookies or services and informational products,
you can use questions to move your prospects to become clients and customers.
Ask the right questions and you'll establish your credibility while you
help your prospects clarify what they need and help them determine the
value of your products and services. Focus on helping instead of selling
and your prospects will thank you by increasing your sales.
2005 © In Mind Communications, LLC. All rights reserved.
The author, Charlie Cook, helps service professionals and small business owners attract more clients and be more successful. Sign up for the FrŽe Marketing Plan eBook, '7 Steps to get more clients and grow your business' at http://www.marketingforsuccess.com