That is a cry often heard from children, and we all have our wants – don’t we!
However when it comes to selling/purchasing it is the need that rules the head, and the wants the heart. Separating them is the main objective of any sales discussion.
Take an example a personal need.
About a year ago my old laptop gave up the ghost, it was old and I needed to purchase a new computer, so I sat down, metaphorically, an thought about what I needed. I ended up purchasing a desktop as a bulk of the work I undertake, IT wise, is in my office, but I need a portable for when I do workshops or presentations and connect it up to a projector.
I thought about an i-pad, a great piece of kit but expensive, circa £400, then looked at netbooks, circa £200.
Did I want an i-pad – YES.
Did I need an i-pad – NO.
There were some other technical considerations to meet and in the end I purchased a netbook which met my needs.
The head had to rule the heart.
How often when you are in discussion with your customer you hear the statement ‘I want xxxx’. That comment must be taken as the starting point, with the objective to find out exactly what they need, and, they are invariably different.
You must find that need by questioning because if you do not find it, your customer will be disappointed when he receives the product he ordered as it does not meet the ‘need’.
This can go both ways one as in the example above where the need was less than the want, the other in the fact that their ‘want’ is underspecified and it will not meet his need.
In both cases you can say it is saving them money as with the former spend more than they really needed, or the latter ordered the wrong product the first time and then had to spend more to meet the need.
How do you find that need?
Well that is another subject all together.
Watch this space!!!
An all too easy trap to fall into when you are negotiating an order, is to reduce your price.
Yes everyone likes a bargain but if it is your business, what you are losing is profit/income/money.
Any reduction you make in the selling price goes straight to your profit line and nowhere else.
So think very carefully before you take this step.
What you are selling is value to your customer, and as the saying goes ‘Value does not have a price’.
As mentioned before, your customers buy on needs. If your product meets them – no more no less, the price quoted is smaller factor in your discussions.
In these discussions you focus on the area around meeting these needs and emphasising for example that your product will fit into their system and work ‘out of the box’, hence saving them time & money.
The problem with value is that it is intangible so it you must understand the customers requirement and needs.
This is where the relationship with your customer pays dividend, understanding the person and his/her business.
If you can build this rapport you no longer are perceived as a sales person but a colleague from whom advice is listened and accepted.
Who would you rather be?
A person who gets the business at any price
A person, who gets the business, brings value to their customer and sees repeat business because of this.
You have received the order and possibly shipped it to your customer.
As in some TV programmes – What happens next?
With some clients who I have met, absolutely nothing – ‘I’ve received the order, shipped it and received payment, what else is there?’
Well how about calling the customer and checking that the product you shipped was received ok and ask if they have any queries or problems.
In addition you could ask when/if they next require the product or do they have a current requirement for any other of your products.
You are building customer relationship and you will be remembered for it.
You cannot give it a value – it is priceless.
Here is a persoanl example. When I was arranging to have my own website, as opposed to just a blog, I wanted to utilise ‘WordPress’ as my platform & through networking was introduced to Broomstick Web.
Within hours of my request, the software was loaded onto the host server and access details advised.
It did not stop there: optimisation plug-in added plus after discussion, key search phrases added for optimisation.
Especially with a website you need a host who can answer queries rapidly and we all get them, in one form or another. These are quickly sorted out and if there is a delay, often due to the server, I am kept informed.
To date everything has worked as it should, & I know if I have a problem the solution is only a phone call away.
To that end I would not hesitate to recommend Broomstick Web to others.
The moral of the story, is your interaction does not stop when you complete an order as ‘after sales’ is probably more important than pre-sales, as a satisfied customer will often use you again and recommend you to other businesses.
It is something which I firmly believe in and reiterate to all clients.
Do you have examples of good – excellent after sales service, if so share it by adding your comments.
With no money required!
‘What can I do to increase my sales’, is a question I often get asked, usually with the follow up statement and I do not have any money for promotion or advertising.
The first question in response is usually ‘How much do you want to increase it’, and often that is where reality ceases!
Frequently the response is 25, 50, 100% in the next 6-12 months. That is OK for a company in it’s start up phase but this is often from an established businesses & to me it is often the sign of desperation or disorganisation or another underlining problem.
The first first job is to bring them back to earth and be realistic in terms of capability & personnel and to engage them in realistic targets and putting in place a strategy and that is for another time.
So here’s a couple of ideas to get you working on your sales at no cost to you, except time.
1. Review your customer base
Take a look at you previous customers and try to answer the question – Why have they not purchased from us recently?
There may be a simple answer as ‘they are not longer in business’ but often it is that you have lost contact or the personnel has changed. Re-engaged with that business and find out what are their current needs. If the personnel has changed call and ask for the previous contact (you know they have left), and when this is confirmed, enquire who has taken over the role and ask to speak to them.
There may be other reasons but more than often it will be on your side.
2. Existing Customers
With your existing customers, are you selling everything that you could. This is often true with small companies doing business with larger companies in their customer base. They are happy to pick up the small orders and are not prepared to explore further opportunities & there will be potentially far more than with a smaller enterprise.
In both cases above you already have contacts at theses businesses and had/have a relationship with them. So pursuing further opportunities should not be difficult as you have already done the hard work in establishing contact and built a relationship, meaning that they should know your capabilities and service.
It is commonly termed ‘relationship selling’ you are not a doorstep salesman but a tried and trusted supplier so build on that, use it!
In the current climate we all need to work smarter so, please comment with some of your ideas.
At my networking breakfast meeting a couple of days ago the discussion topic was negotiation, which made an interesting discussion with the group member’s view, on this subject.
To start with, what are the basics of negotiation – It is the coming together of two minds towards an agreement. The dictionary defines it as: ‘Reaching an agreement through discussion’.
Here are 6 practical tips to consider when you get to negotiating phase of an order.
1. There is really one principal tip and that is to be prepared and do your homework, with the remaining on this list a sub-set.
2. Quality not price
We all sell on quality – don’t we!
This should be your main stance when discussing an order, and that is what it is, a discussion.
Any purchaser is seeking value for the product they are purchasing and yes, the purchase cost is a factor but concentrate on the overall ownership of your product. As an example is it easier to install, use daily, quicker, lower maintenance etc.
It is a fact, that the purchase price of a product is only a small percentage of the cost of ownership.
3. Listen & understand
If you have not done so already, and you should have done – listen and understand their needs.
As I have mentioned previous blogs people buy on needs with the benefits your product gives an additional factor. The example above are benefits but they must be relevant to your customers needs.
4. Have knowledge of your competition.
Most of the time you will be in a competitive situation. Buyers love this position as it puts them (they think) in the driving seat. Know your competition capability as well as you know your own. This will enable you to parry any statements made by the purchaser, but must stress do not rubbish your competitor. That is the worst thing you can do.
5. Have a bottom price.
I know that the objective is to meet the customers needs, but some practicality must be considered especially if you are negotiating with a buyer. They will have the task of proving to their management that they are getting best value. An old trick is to use what I term ‘union rules’ and add a small percentage to your original quoted price that you are able to offer as a discount. This is only to be used at the end of the negotiation, if needed, and then offered ‘reluctantly’.
It does work and the buyer is happy as they can prove some reduction.
6. Know when to say no.
This is one of the most difficult phrase for a lot of sales people, whose objective is to get the order and sometimes at any price.
If your product cannot meet their needs say so. You may loose that order but you will gain respect and be remembered for future requirements.
On the money side we are all in business to make a profit. That is a fact of life, when you get to your base price tell the purchaser you cannot go any further.
We all learn from experience, so keep in mind what works in your market and what doesn’t.
This list is aimed at the areas to consider for negotiation so when you go into that meeting you are well armed.
Through experience I am sure we all have various tips.
So let’s hear about them with your comments.
(With apologies to ladies & the play of the same name)
One article in today’s news, that caught my eye, is that ICANN (the Internet Corporation of Assigned Name & Numbers), are going to allow the use of any word as a suffix in the internet name. On the surface this seems a good idea until you read further that you will be able to use any language which could prove interesting with some translations!
Before you start looking for the application form, which will be 360 pages long there is the matter of the fee, $185,000!!!!
Too rich for me and probably a majority of businesses & users, but it got me thinking.
There is a faction who now consider, the role of the sales guy is dead, and all future business will be undertaken on-line. That may happen sometime into the ‘Star Trek’ era, but today we still want to do business with a person. It may be on the telephone or by e-mail but people buy from people.
There are many people, who think the online sales is the panacea to their sales, and forget it only one of the tools in the sales operation.
The sales function, whatever area it is B2B or B2C, continues to be conducted, in the main, on a personal basis.
From the sales side, when you are in personal contact with the purchaser you are the position to understand your customer’s needs, and solve their problem, and that, is the basis of the sales function, not to sell our product or service but to fulfil the customers need; to solve their problem.
If you take that concept on board you will be in a better position to improve your selling techniques and increase your order book and turnover. In addition you are more likely to increase the proportion of repeat business because you solved their problem.
Have a think about it!
We all put together a business plan for the forthcoming year, don’t we!!
It is surprising how many businesses don’t do one at all & at a recent networking meeting I took a ‘straw poll’. The result was only about 20% of 24 people.
In preparing the potential cash flow for the year, the first line titled – ‘Sales’, but how did you get to the figures you entered?
A lot of people will have taken last year’s figures added a percentage for inflation and/or possible growth and entered them.
The question I am posing is – What use are they? Continue reading →
This is an old saying which goes back many decades, and today it is probably more relevant.
There have been comments, in the press and media recently, about customer service in these economically challenging times, or should I say the lack of it. Continue reading →