Be a Better Salesperson
It doesn't matter if you sell copy machines, computers, clothes or cars - some things are important to know and do. Some things are important NOT to do...
Whatever you sell, you must know your product. Be enthusiastic! If you are excited about the thing you sell, people will listen to you and find out why. Enthusiasm is catching! Tell your prospective customer what makes your product special. What sets it apart from the competition? Why should they choose your item over the others? Highlight the good, but don't try to hide or lie about the possible short-comings. You may think that is not wise - but it is! If the car you are selling is obviously not as fancy as some other car they might be considering, this is not necessarily a negative. You have to turn it into a positive: "Well Miss Customer. it's true the other car you mentioned has side curtain airbags and electronic stability, and a longer warranty, but our car is very safe with a 5 star crash rating, and it has many of the same features and still saves you $5,000! That could save you over $100 per month in your payment!..."
Knowing your product is so important! No one wants to ask a question and hear: "Ummm, ahhh, let me check on that" They want to feel confident in your ability to help them make a good decision. And your job is to help them feel that buying from YOU right now, is the BEST decision! Have answers ready for the common questions. If you have answers and can highlight key differences between your item and the competition - you will win sales.
Shop the competition. Learn the advantages the other items have and then find ways to address these issues. Perhaps your clothing store is a bit more pricey? Maybe the other store has a larger selection? When you can turn an objection into an advantage, you will earn more sales. "Yes Mr. Customer, that department store actually DOES have more sport coats to choose from... but did you have any one there to help you pick one out? Did they offer to make alterations that same day, while you shop? I've noticed our brands have stood the test of time... I'm sure you have heard of them. Name brand quality, and personal service combine to make sure you look your best. You can invest in your wardrobe here with confidence. We also provide free alterations as long as you own your suits and slacks. That level of quality and service is worth a little more, wouldn't you agree?"
Knowing your products and the competittor's offerings will allow you to win the trust of the customer. When you answer honestly, and they will test you on this, you are more likey to have their attention and trust when you recommend your product and explain why it is the best choice.
A very important factor in winning trust and being allowed to answer questions and make recommendations is your attitude and appearance. In all your ways you must give the impression you care. If you take care in your appearnace, it will logically follow in the customer's mind that you must care about what you are selling, that you care about their needs, etc... Remember: you are there to make a commission, but the owner of the store is trusting you with his reputation, with his advertising dollars and with his very success! That customer is standing infront of you because he heard an ad on the radio or TV or because of a recommendation from a friend. You have an opportunity to help make your owner's investment pay off. It is your duty to make the most of that chance! You only get one chance to make a first impression!
Knowing your product is important, but you must also know your customer. Learn to read the people that you get to talk to. If they trust you, you have won, they will buy from you. That is the biggest challenge, overcoming objections to the point that you have won their trust. No one likes to be 'sold' something. People have a natural aversion to the 'salesperson'. All customers are different but on this one point they are all the same: "I'm just looking" They don't want you to sell them anything. They don't even want you around until they have a question, then you BETTER be nearby! It is a fine line, pleasing most people.
Find out quickly what kind of buyer you have. A needy type will not shoo you away. They will ask questions right away. An analytical type might want to study the product on his/her own for awhile and then try and stump you with a question. Each type (and there are many types) needs a different approach. You must learn these for yourself. Your peronality will match some and others you must adapt to. In all cases, turn their questions into closing questions of your own. When Mrs. Customer asks: "Does this this washing machine come with a setting for an extra rinse cycle?" you must instinctively think to yourself: "why is she asking that? Does she WANT that feature, or maybe she DOESN'T want to PAY for that feature? Or maybe she wants a simple-to-operate machine with no frills?" Why is she asking that? You want to find out. You want to get closer to a sale. Ask questions! Alsways answer the question, but ask one of your own. "Yes, this model has that feature. Would you rather save some money and do without that feature?" This can smoke out what they really want. "Oh no! I WANT automatic re-rinse! I don't care what it costs, my next machine is going to have THAT." Now you know more than if you had just said "Yeah, it has that."
Some people are in a hurry. Some people are simply rude and don't want to be 'bothered' by salespeople. They don't realize you can help them. Your challenge is to slow down the hurried customer and not be bothered by people that don't want to be bothered by you!
When a hurried customer just wants to know the bottom line price and it is obvious they are leaving the second you tell them that vital piece of information, this is your one chance to say something to slow them down and either get them to stay or want to come back later. At this point you don't know what they want or why, all you know is that they want a price. Go with that. Say: "Hello! Thanks for asking! My manager just told me we are supposed to do what ever it takes to sell these because we have a new shipment arriving and these have to go! Are you ready to take this home with you right now? Because I can get it ready for you and find out how low they are willing to go. Do you have time now? Or can you come back a little later?" Now you will find out if they are really in a hurry or not. The rude person, or the one who is truly on his way to an appointment and should not have stopped to shop will say "Just give me the price!" Do not be offended by this. Give him the price. The price that is affixed to the item - not the lowest price, and say: "I'm sorry you don't have time to shop right now. I don't get to just make up prices, we'll have to go with this sale tag here. If you had a minute, we could make sure this is the one you want and find out what they are willing to take for it. What were YOU thinking?..." Try and get him talking. Again, do not be offended when the rude person makes a comment like "Well if you can't tell me the best price, I'm just going to leave and buy this elsewhere". These people look at you like an annoyance or a non-person. You are there to help them, they are really paying your salary and it is your job to help them. They do not realize this and do not appreciate all you can do to help them. These customers may buy your item, but they will never appreciate it fully. They will never give you the time to explain your product fully and they are likely to be unhappy with whatever they buy - because they don't have enough value built into their purchase by you. This is their own fault, not yours. They may get everything for the cheapest price and enjoy nothing. They don't know what they have!
Have you ever been shopping when a valued customer comes in? The sales staff are glad to see that customer and give them the best treatment, the most attention. That customer is happy and satisfied. Do you think they got the cheapest price the last time they purchased something? No. They paid more and they are happier. You might be amazed to find that the one who pays more is happier than the one who pays less. But when you look closer - you see why. The grouch who is in a hurry and just wants the best price - he gets the same item, but does not allow for anyone to explain it to him. The good customer may not be so worried about price and allows you time to build value into the item. They don't mind paying for value.
Where is the best place to find customers? Who is most likely to buy? What is the best use of your time? One answer addresses all these questions: the previous customer! They are already 'sold' on your product. They have been enjoying it's benefits and your good service. Keep in touch with them! Whenever they visit, or you see them, keep them happy! Soon they will need a new item, and you can bet, they will see you first. Make sure to keep up with their needs. If the item they purchased has a warranty, remind them of new offerings about the time the warranty runs out. It may be time for an upgrade. Has their business or family grown? Do they need something different next time? You may not be able to sell them anything, but be attentive to their changing needs. Sometimes you can sell an extended warranty instead of a whole new item. It is still a sale!
A sales person has it pretty good! You get to sell things you don't own to people that have come in through advertising you did not have to pay for. Customers come to a place that you do not pay rent or utilities on. You dont have to worry about taxes, overhead, profit and loss statements, hiring or firing, ordering, shipping/receiving, manufacturing... All you have to do is show up, look nice, smell nice, smile, know your products and be nice to people! You help fulfill needs and people will thank you for it! You get paid for helping people. What could be better than that?
BUY books on selling!
More by this Author
Why traditional values are important This question was asked of me, and it really made me stop and think. Important to whom? Important in what way? What are 'values' and what makes a value 'traditional' or not. Whose...