Smoke and Mirrors?: The foundations of sales techniques
Have you ever had someone convince you to buy something you knew you'd never use? How do they do that? Did you want to buy anything else from them? Did you have a good relationship with them? These are some of the questions that come up when you think about what types of techniques your sales team should use.
Early books about sales techniques (we're talking about the early 1900's) included key words like ethics, service, relationships, hard work, doing the best job possible, and loyalty to your company. These all led to the idea of building a friendship and relationship with your customers so they would keep coming back. (Sound familiar?) After about 10 years other ideas began to surface. Door-to-door salesmen discovered that they could increase their sales by using specific words and specific persuasion methods. This lead to the perfecting and proliferation of sales techniques that focused not on the customer's needs or building a relationship, but on closing techniques and methods that rated a one-time sale, which was all they were interested in.
The foundations of most modern sales techniques lie in five stages of action. These began in the 1950's and include:
- Attention: You have to get the attention of your prospect through some advertising or prospecting method.
- Interest: Build their interest by using an emotional appeal such as how good they will look to their boss when they make this deal that will save the company thousands of dollars!
- Desire: Build their desire for your product by showing them its features and letting them sample or test-drive it.
- Conviction: Increase their desire for your product by statistically proving the worth of your product. Compare it to its competitors. Use testimonials from happy customers.
- Action: Encourage the prospect to act. This is your closing. Ask for the order. If they object, address their objections. There are then many variations of closing techniques that can help get the business.
There is a plethora of closing techniques that range from hard sell to soft sell and everything in-between. Some of these include:
Many more closing techniques exist, but we're going to focus on one of the more successful techniques for building a large and loyal customer base. That focus is, once again, Relationship Selling. Read on to learn some of the ways you can help your staff develop solid relationships with their clients that will build sales andbenefit the client.
- A Direct Close: Simply asking for the order when you are sure your prospect is ready.
- A Deal/Concession Close: Using this closing technique gives the prospect the feeling that they are making a smart choice and saving money (or getting more value). Use it with phrases like "Order today and I can add this other module for only 10% more."
- A Time-Driven Close: This one works well with statements like, "prices are going up next week, so you should go ahead a let me place your order today."
- Trial Offer: You can let the prospect use the product at no risk for a trial period. This works well if you're selling products that make people's lives easier. They aren't likely to want to give it back if it has saved them a lot of time and effort during the trial period. On the other hand, if they haven't had the experience with the product you told them they would then you probably won't get another chance.