I often get asked to provide training to address a number of problems that business owners have with selling their product or service to potential customers. Here are four of the most popular:
I haven’t got enough people interested in buying what I have to offer.
This is really a marketing problem, not a sales problem. Sometimes business owners think that they don’t like selling, but actually they have misunderstood the difference between sales and marketing. Marketing is about getting people interested in what you have to offer, (ie creating ‘prospects’), sales is getting those people to buy.
If your problem is with not having enough prospects, you need to re-think your marketing strategy. Call me for advice, or to set up a free business review, and go to the ‘Free Advice Sheets’ on this website for more information about marketing.
Lots of people are interested in my product/service but they never seem to buy from me.
Again, this could be a problem with your marketing strategy. If you have lots of prospective customers but too few of them eventually buy from you, it may be that you are selling to the wrong people. Think carefully about the unique selling point of your product or service, and how you can introduce yourself to the people that this unique selling point will appeal to most.
You also need to make sure that you have a structured ‘sales process’ in place for converting interested persons into paying customers. You might start with a phone call to arrange an appointment, leave a quotation following your appointment and follow it up later to find out whether the person wants to buy, but you must be keeping track of when you need to contact your prospective customer next. You make sure that you agree a specific date for when you will next contact them, and that you do contact them on the date that you agreed. If you always contact them when you say you will, you are giving them a sense of how reliable you are. If you don’t have a structured process in place for asking people to buy from you, you won’t convert prospects into customers.
I don’t have time for selling; I’m too busy running the business.
You must make sure that you allocate time to making sales, particularly if you don’t enjoy it and would rather be doing other things. It is great if you have so much work on that you haven’t got time to worry about selling to new customers, but if you have no new orders in the pipeline, when you finish the jobs you’re working on now, your cash flow will end up suffering.
But I’m not a salesperson! I hate selling to people.
You don’t actually ever need to ‘sell’ what you’re offering to your prospective customer. If you know that what you are offering will solve a problem that your prospective customer has, then you can engage them in a conversation about their problem, and establish how valuable it would be to them if you could solve that problem for them. At that point, you only need to ask them if they want to buy what you are offering. They may well say yes right away. If they need time to think it over, you arrange to follow up with them at an agreed date and time. If they say no, you find out what the objection is, in case it is something that you can resolve or negotiate on. If you can’t change whatever is preventing them from buying, you can always ask them if they know of anyone else who might need what you’re offering.