Trade has always been a relatively simple, accessible, and reliable way to earn money. But we should acknowledge that even in the epoch of the toughest competition, not all modern top managers, office consultants, sales assistants, and agents know sales techniques on a proper level and can reach out customers. Many of them underestimate the importance of books on the psychology of selling and training on more effective selling. A sloppy attitude to work by no means helps to improve the financial situation of sales managers and their employer.
How to improve turnover in times of crisis? How to successfully increase sales in an online store? How to increase the revenue of a company? The right technique of effective selling can answer all these questions. When we talk about effectiveness, we mean the development of trade transactions. Unfortunately, there is no universal recipe how to sell more efficiently. Every enterprise selects its own sales technique through trial and error method and tests it out again and again. A scrupulous approach is not that easy, as you have to form your staff from real experts with substantial experience and good selling skills or train your own team.
All successful selling techniques require the following skills from your staff:
- Ability to make people trust a company or a product (service);
- Ability to work with disagreement and objections;
- Ability to turn indifference into interest;
- Confidence in their own professionalism;
- Restraint, patience, tactfulness;
- Stress resistance.
But there is much more. You should have a good understanding of stages, rules, and types of selling. A picky modern customer is hard to excite. The market is packed with similar offers and every business has serious and dangerous competitors. Effective selling techniques (by phone, online etc.) are necessary to develop a company and support stable commerce.
Types of Selling
When you start to learn tools and strategies used in a certain sales method you have to be well familiar with the types of selling.
- Active sales are the most effort consuming type, but at the same time the most effective. The method of active selling by phone is quite complex. The point is that you should gradually collect data for your database of potential customers. This is done through new buyers and cold calls. After that, the collected database has to be processed. The methods of active selling are diverse. In this type, a sales manager must work really hard and take initiative while a customer remains passive. This is the main characteristics of active sales.
- Passive sales, on the contrary, don’t require active actions from a manager. A client is the one who shows initiative. But here you also have to use special selling techniques to improve the effectiveness of commerce. For example, buyers who waver between two products are ready to hear detailed information that with help them to make a choice and purchase.
- Direct sales. The scheme of direct selling is primitively simple: a manager and a client meet each other, a product is presented, and a deal is made. The main difference between direct sales and other types is the absence of intermediaries.
- Indirect sales. This type is very common in big companies. Such techniques as franchising and merchandising are used. The first technique is about getting a right to launch a successful business and the essence of the second one is a proper presentation of goods in stores and organization of necessary promotions.
Having decided what types of successful sales strategies to use in your company, you choose rules, a technique, best tools, and effective sales methods.
There are numerous ways to make a customer buy in a shop, by phone, or online. But many of these types and methods have their own specifics, such as successful phone selling technique (scripts and the character of speech) or NLP technique. In addition, there is a bulk of personal methods. To study effective sales methods in detail you have to armor yourself with a good library (for instance, find and read top 10 books on selling and marketing) and take the best training.
In this respect, a nice example is a book “The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them” by David Mattson. It will be really beneficial to those who search the ways to increase sales during a crisis. Another good choice is Brian Tracy’s “Psychology of Selling” that will introduce you to ideas, strategies, and specific actions that can increase the turnover of a store. Yet, theoretical knowledge often appears to be insufficient, as even the best books and theoretical advice give no results without practice. Whereas, the process of polishing your knowledge of the chosen technique can take many years.
CLASSIC SELLING TECHNIQUE – 5 STAGES
Sales ladder, 5 rules, 5 stages, or 5 steps of sales – all these are the names of a widespread scheme. This sales technique is considered a traditional one, proven by the experience of thousands of businesses, already successfully used by several generations of sales managers in different countries. Direct or indirect, active or passive selling – regardless of what you do, this technique is almost always utilized. It consists of five consecutive actions:
- Come into contact with a potential customer.
- Clarify one’s needs.
- Present your goods.
- Address objections.
- Complete a deal.
All these main stages and each of them separately are a crucial part of the scheme. None of them can be eliminated, as this will destroy the whole strategy. It is also important to keep the sequence. You cannot start a product presentation if you haven’t determined the key needs of your customer.
A poor contact won’t allow you to get answers to your questions. If a sales deal collapses on any of these stages, this means that you did some mistakes during the previous steps or violated the rules of selling. Continuous work on the improvement of current conditions and the analysis of mistakes have a positive effect. They do increase selling effectiveness. At the same time, all main stages of selling should have an emotional component, as it addresses buyers’ individuality.
SPIN SALES TECHNIQUE
SPIN sales method that was developed as early as in 1988 by Neil Rackham replaced the already mentioned classic method tested by thousands of managers. This technique contradicts a belief about the mandatory stages of selling, claiming that a certain set of questions is enough to make a deal. The method is based on an interesting philosophy: don’t push a customer into something; you can sell only a product that a person needs; to do that you just have to understand your customer, and active selling will immediately improve. SPIN approach is all about getting the most complete and reliable information about the needs of a customer.
SPIN sales technique includes the following types of questions:
- Situation questions. Open and appropriate (not pushy and tiring) questions helping to find out customer’s needs.
- Problem questions. Questions asked to learn why a customer is dissatisfied with a previous product, what functions it lacks, what the problems are etc. This type allows to present the best advantages of your product. “Do frequent equipment failures and problems with repair parts slow down the development of your project?”
- Implication questions. This is the most difficult type. It aims to focus customer’s attention on the importance of current problems and make one consider consequences that may be caused by the lack of action. “Can the crisis in your industry lead to your bankruptcy if you don’t replace equipment?” “How will your partners react if you don’t manage to fulfill your obligations?”
- Need-payoff questions. This type is used only when a customer fully realizes the gravity of a situation and is ready to take measures to solve it. The purpose of need-payoff questions is to encourage customers to purchase without directly advising them. The questions themselves already have a solution to an identified problem. The way the question is asked shows a clear benefit from buying a product. “Will new equipment capable to increase your production volume by 20% positively influence the development of your business?”
The creation of questions asked in a certain sequence and the usage of need-payoff questions for selling isn’t a universal technique. It has its pros, but the cons are also present. Being inefficient for small retail it is really effective during talks, including the phone ones. Actually, you can quite successfully use the classic technique adhering both to its rules and the main elements of SPIN sales method at the same time.
PRESSURE SALES TECHNIQUE
This is a popular, trusted, and effective method for both retail stores and online sales through websites. The negative meaning of the word “pressure”, in fact, isn’t as bad as it seems. There are several common subcategories of this technique.
- An item is limited. This method is amazingly effective. Despite its “ripe old age” and choosy modern customers it always works. When buyers don’t have time to think and purchase later they are prone to make impulsive decisions. They feel like they need to use this bargain right now, until it’s too late.
- NOTHING is left. Many buyers strive to keep up with trends, so they are strongly influenced by this effect.
- Only for those who understand. This sales technique is supposed to make every customer feel unique, like only they (unlike others) can appreciate the quality of products thanks to their personal skills and knowledge.
- Only for private club members. This sales approach is based on the attractiveness of private clubs, which can be joined through a friend’s recommendation or on some other conditions. Only a limited number of people can buy products, and it’s not that easy to become one of them. This way a false rush is created.
Actually, there is a bulk of such marketing secrets. When some of them become outdated, the other succeed. The essence is to put some pressure on a customer, the art is to make it look appealing instead of aggressive. That’s what unites all these methods.
“WORK ON PRICE” SALES TECHNIQUE
When during the dialogue of a manager and a customer a price is announced, this is the most risky and difficult moment. The customer’s reaction can be highly negative. If you want to keep the valued customer, marketing should logically and clearly justify the current price. Some selling techniques can help you with that.
- Sandwich sales technique. Put a price as a category between two “thick slices” of offered benefits, advantages, and privileges. Bare figures should be covered with appropriate arguments.
- Neutralization of objections. Profound experience in presentations allows to answer possible questions in advance and prevent customer’s objections before they arise in a dialogue with a sales assistant.
- Comparison sales technique. Demonstrate that a product is worth its price comparing it to the guaranteed real benefits of a purchase.
- Price presentation. A final price is shown to its best advantage: it can be divided by the number of years (months, days) of product usage. As the result of such mathematical operation, the price seems less frightening to a customer, indeed, it’s much more attractive.
A wise approach to figures gives good results. If a manager helps customers to understand the advantages of a purchase, tells how much it will bring or save in the long run, shows the benefit from a closed deal, in many cases, the price becomes a secondary issue.
NLP SELLING TECHNIQUE
The marketing strategies of direct selling offer quite peculiar NLP techniques that cannot be recommended as the universal ones. With some buyers, such type of marketing works really well while with others it can give no results. Here you should know both the rules of successful selling and psychology. Psychology is the basis of NLP technique.
- Mirroring. Observing customer’s behavior, pace of speech, and mood a manager resembles them, which creates the most comfortable conditions for communication and demonstrates the willingness to help upon any request.
- Nonverbal contact. A friendly and gentle touch to a shoulder or arm sometimes brings an unexpectedly positive effect, if gestures are soft and relaxed.
- Compliments. Not an obvious flattery, but delicate compliments accompanied with the play on vanity are effectively used by managers who have grasped the essence of this method.
- “Yes, but…” Knowing the most common customers’ objections a manager can prepare the best answers in advance. No way can you dispute these objections. It better to agree with them and only after that tell arguments that eliminate the worries of the customer. Practice shows that it’s better to use counterarguments based on real cases rather than dry facts.
Due to the complexity of neurolinguistic sales technique and the need of an individual approach to every customer, deep knowledge of psychology is a must. Books on psychology are a real ally of sales managers at every stage of their professional development. Any falsehood will cause a negative reaction while antipathy to a manager who openly tries to manipulate buyers will become the main obstacle to making a deal.