It was Henry Ford who first stated 'nothing happens until a sale is made'. How true, and how often it is that the sale is left in the hands of an untrained person. Mr Ford may well have had the manufacturing capability to produce cars at a phenomenal rate, but if they did not get sold, production capability was of no value at all. Contrary to popular belief, sales methods and techniques can be learnt just like any other subject.
Large companies spend fortunes on advertising their products, fortunes on lavish shops to attract the customer and fortunes on window and in-store displays, only to lose valuable sales through a lack of ongoing product sales training.
Broadly speaking, a salesperson must have the following skills and attributes:
l. Job satisfaction.
2. Product knowledge.
4. Formal and up-to-date sales technique training.
5. The ability to ascertain the customer's needs.
6. The ability to fit the product to the customer.
7. The ability to recognise the customer's problems, e.g. shortage of money, shortage of time, or just plain boredom.
8. The ability to recognise the time to close the sale.
9. A likeable and friendly manner
10. Last, but by no means least, a clean and smart appearance.
Before we go any further let me hit you with a few 'don'ts':
l. Don't be aggressive, avoid the hard sell.
2. Don't talk about yourself, it holds no interest for the customer.
3. Don't approach the customer smelling of alcohol, cigarettes or anything that the customer may find the slightest bit offensive.
4. Don't ever argue with the customer, simply ask questions.
5. If you get a positive buying signal from the customer, cease your sales presentation - to continue can lose you the sale.
6. Don't criticise others.
7. Don't criticise other manufacturers' products.
AIDA - Attention Interest Desire Action
AIDA is a logical sequence through which the salesperson and the customer must travel to reach a successful sale.
A is for Attention
Give the customer your attention. Allow enough time for the customer to show interest in a particular product group, but remember that allowing too much time can lead to the customer leaving the shop through lack of salesperson attention. Verbally highlight a sales feature.
I is for Interest
Show interest in the customer's needs. Verbally list the sales features and at the same time begin to establish the customer's needs by questioning. For example:
- What type of vacuum cleaner do you use, is it an upright type or a cylinder type?
- Do you have a large or small house?
- Do you have any pets in your house?
This type of questioning helps the salesperson to ensure the customer will go home with the right product to suit their requirements, thus cutting down the risk of losing the sale or having the product returned at a later date.
D is for Desire
The desire for the customer to own the product builds as the salesperson marries the product sales features to the needs of the customer. For example:
- You mentioned you had two dogs - the selection of tools provided with the machine will make light work of the hair they leave on your carpet.
- As your home is on three levels the comparatively low weight of this product makes it a good choice for you.
- The rechargeable option is certainly a big plus when you travel on holiday in your caravan.
A is for Action
It's crunch time, the point at which you have to ask the customer to purchase the product, the point of no return and the pinnacle of all the work, time, effort and money that is now at risk. A simple mistake can ruin the sale, so what do you do? How do you bring the sale to a successful conclusion? There are three main methods used to close a sale:
l. Dual positive suggestion
Children are blessed with the ability to close a sale without their even knowing it, simply by asking a dual positive question, that is to say asking two questions that both have a positive answer. For example, little Robert says, 'Mum shall we go to the movies today or will tomorrow suit you better?' Either answer gets Robert to the movies.
Here are a few examples of dual positive suggestions that can help you close the sale:
- Would you like us to deliver, or did you want to take it with you?
- Will you be paying cash, or can I show you our credit terms?
- Do you prefer the pink or the white one?
- Would you like to purchase it with tools or without at a reduced price?
2. The concession method
Suggesting a larger quantity, knowing the customer will settle for a little less, will often close the sale.
3. The silent method
Having reached the end of the sales presentation, the skilful salesperson will go silent and remain that way, and the customer will feel obliged to speak and will order. (Only the experienced salesperson should attempt to use this method, as it can backfire.)