In preparation for speaking at Damsels in Success, next month, I’ve been talking a lot about selling recently and specifically how to have a sales conversation. And the thing is, a sales conversation is really an opportunity for your prospective client to discover how you can help them transform their business or their life. It’s about helping them think bigger, see what’s possible and whether or not they’re ready to step up and take that challenge.
A sales conversation is sooooo much more than simply telling someone that “I can do this for you and it will cost this amount of money.” Instead, it’s about helping them understand the transformation you provide – and the results they could expect working with you. The sales conversation is not about you persuading them how great you are, it’s for the potential customer to arrive at his or her own conclusion, to understand that what you offer is genuine and whether or not they want it.
It’s also an opportunity for you to decide if you want to work with them. When and if they commit, it’s a result of grasping that they want what you have. You have to show them, in how you dress, in how you present yourself, in how you package your program, just how confident you are in your own life; just how capable you are of getting them to that same place. Perhaps their business is doing okay — not great, just okay. They pay the bills and they could continue doing so without much fuss. Then they see you and listen to you and realize how much more they could be accomplishing. You’re telling them it’s possible. You’re telling them, in a way, that they owe it to themselves to improve their business. There’s no reason not to. It’s simply about understanding the transformation and convincing them of what can be achieved. But here’s the thing – it’ll feel to them as if they’ve convinced themselves.
There’s obviously a lot more details to a sales conversation than what I can cover in a short article. I offer a product called Cold to Sold which I encourage you to check out. In the meantime, let me share a few more easy details that you’ll want to keep in mind.
No one buys desperation, so make sure you have a number of sales conversations on a regular basis. If that means finding more places to advertise your “free consultation” or “strategy session” – do it – because you don’t want to put too much pressure on any one sales conversation. You don’t want to be trying to sell your program or services thinking, “If they don’t commit, I can’t pay the rent this month.” One of the worst years I had, I gave only 28 sales presentations. The following year, in just six months time, I had 102 and tripled my business. So while each sales conversation is important and you should take each strategy session quite seriously, the more of them you have, the greater the chance of actually selling your program.
Like each aspect of the sale, it’s about confidence. That confidence comes from believing in yourself, from putting your best self out there, from trusting that what you have is of great worth, which is why you can sell it at high value. It’s as if you’re doing the world a disservice by keeping your program/services/talents to yourself.
Don’t hide your light under a bushel. Have the sales conversation because you owe it to your future clients. You’re going to take them where they want to go.
It wasn’t so long ago that the only way of selling your personal product or services was over the phone or face-to-face. People didn’t have websites where they could include a lot of information for potential customers to make up their own minds about whether or not to invest. And here’s the thing – if you want to attract high paying clients you shouldn’t be using a webpage to do all the selling for you. Instead you need to devote the time to sell your services with a personal touch. Future clients need to hear your voice; they need to listen to the confidence you have in yourself and, in turn, the confidence you have in them to make a change.
Eighty percent of the sales I get come from the one-on-one consultations I do via telephone or Skype. When I started out, I literally knocked on doors and met business owners where they worked. After realizing I was good at talking to people about what I could do for them and/or their company, it became clear my numbers could go up if I didn’t have to physically get in front of prospective clients but still talk to them. What I provide – coaching, business consultation – was something I could do over the phone. First, I had to sell my unique talents by selling myself – and I couldn’t do that unless I was willing to talk to people.
Don’t be concerned. “Selling yourself” isn’t nearly as awful as it sounds. In fact, it can be fun, particularly if you’re confident in your ability to help someone with his or her needs. Even if you don’t feel 100% confident right now, speaking with potential clients about your product or services will build your confidence. You’ll only get better the more sales conversations you have. I promise you.
So once you’ve generated a lead – through direct mail, E-zine articles, newspaper ads, fliers, online forums – and someone contacts you to have a sales conversation, set up a time right then to speak with them. If they’re going to invest in themselves or their business by buying your services, they want personal attention. They want to feel as if you’re speaking to them and understand their issues – so then when you make your offer about how you’re going to take them from Point A to Point B, it feels personal. It feels honest. It feels real – particularly if you’re selling a high-value program.
Just because email exists, and the Internet allows for mass communication, doesn’t mean it will help turn leads into conversions. You still need to have a sales conversion strategy. And the best conversion strategy, especially for selling high value products or programmes is through a one on one sales conversation with you.
Every business is unique and you may find that your customers respond differently to reward programs that you may offer. Sometimes a subtle approach to saying thank you is a better option for your business than a formal reward programme.
Low Key thank you gestures can be just as effective as formal reward programs. When gestures are subtle or more informal they are often come across as being more genuine. For example if you know one of your customers is a coffee connoisseur you could keep an eye out for a particular brand or blend. When you find one you can keep it aside as a thank you gift. When there is an occasion to reward your client for referring business to you, a gift that reflects their personal interests will go a long way towards building good relationships. That type of gesture shows that you genuinely care and take an interest in your customers.
If your clients happen to be government departments or even a large corporate, overt thank you gestures can sometimes be frowned upon. Some organizations, in an effort to clamp down on corruption have strict policies against employees receiving gifts. So how can you still let your customers know you appreciate them without it coming across as a bribe? Here are some ideas that have proven to work:
Stop in at the local bakery and collect a batch of donuts, croissants or muffins. Then take them with you when you stop in to see your clients. Say something like, you passed the bakery on your way to see them and the goodies just looked too good to resist. In this way you can reward your clients and let them know that they are appreciated in a way that can’t be misinterpreted.
These days it’s quite rare to get a handwritten note. Most people communicate solely on email. So when you take the time to write a short note expressing your appreciation to a customer it is sure to get noticed. It’s a gesture that shows your clients you appreciate them enough to take the time and effort to do so.
Calls to Celebrate
Use occasions to show your appreciation to customers. These needn’t be tied to specific referrals. You can use publically celebrated events as an excuse to reward your customers. Spring day, Valentine’s Day, Easter or Christmas. These are occasions where you can treat your clients with chocolates, flowers or biscuits and say you’re celebrating with them just because of the occasion. You could have personalised labels made for chocolates or order some special home baked treats. These are small gestures that your clients are sure to appreciate.
Keeping in Touch
Sometimes a simple phone call to customers is enough to show that you appreciate your business. Any small gesture that helps you build relationships with your customers will make them more inclined to send referrals your way.
Remember the purpose of thank you gestures is to make your clients feel important and appreciated. When you keep that as your focus you will find that there are many creative ways in which you can shower your customers with subtle thank you gestures
When you take out advertising, your main goal is to get customers to buy now. But have you noticed how that isn’t always the case? Some people may respond now, but they don’t all buy now. Does that mean that the advertising campaign was unsuccessful? Not necessarily. Some people may simply be further along the buying timeline than others.
What do your customers perceive when you speak to them? How does that impact whether they will buy from you or not? Do first impressions really count?
First impressions often count more than you realize, and it’s not just about what you say. It’s about how you say it – even when you’re speaking to customers online or through an email, how you introduce yourself. What does your tone say about you? Can you get customers excited about what you have to offer? The bottom line is: is your confidence tangible?
If you have been in business for some time you will know how important it is to build relationships. The more you know about human nature, the easier it is to build these relationships. It also will help you understand why customers buy. Here are some simple human nature facts that when applied to business relationship building can be really powerful.
If you keep getting clients who say “ I need to think about it” or “I’d like to do it in …” then it’s time for you to introduce an incentive for them to make a decision sooner rather than later. Otherwise you end up playing telephone or email ping-pong and you are left in limbo. There’s nothing more frustrating than continuously following up with a prospective client – until you eventually give up. So how do you get clients to make a decision now without making them feel as though you are pressurizing them?
One very powerful way to make your business stand out from the crowd is to use testimonials. After all, you can go on about how great you are until you’re blue in the face, but, let’s face it, you’re bound to say good things about your business – it’s expected. Even businesses with the most appalling service will tell you how great they are!
Newspapers come into print on a daily basis. So if you want to use newspaper advertising as a way to attract new customers and get more business, then you need to be creative about ways to interest customers in what you have to offer. Let’s take a look at a few different industries and possible newspaper advertising ideas:
If an existing customer is the biggest asset to your business, how are you ensuring that they continue to buy from you? What active measures are you taking to keep in touch with your customers? We’ve talked about the lifetime value of a customer, how over time a single existing customer becomes very valuable to your business, but that needs to be an active relationship if you want to benefit from it. It needs to be a relationship where your customer knows that you value their business, and where they continue to benefit from your products or services.