Better Customer Relations Improve Sales

Sales are the lifeblood of a small company.

Nothing begins until a sale is made, and personal relationships between buyers and sellers are what sales are all about.

The better the relationship, the better the chance that a sale will be made. With few exceptions, people buy from someone they trust, and like.

Contrary to myth, there are no “born” salespeople. Top performers are not just lucky - hard workers make their own luck. They have a knack for being in all the right places at the right times.

Most salespeople are underachievers. This explains, in many instances, why 25% of a company’s sales force produces 75% of sales. Good salespeople are:

Honest. This is a must. Treating customers fairly develops credibility. Be reliable about appointments, prices, expenses, product features and service contracts. You have to be 100% honest all the time. Following the golden rule pays off.

Well-organized. Develop a system so you know when you called a customer and what was said. Know your products/services and your customers’ needs.

Be consistent about following up with both current and potential customers. Keep up with the paperwork and cooperate with the sales support staff. Any box with index cards will do the job.

Persistent. Play the numbers game, the more prospects you contact, the more sales you make. Small numbers multiply rapidly. Ten calls per day is more than 200 per month. If someone says no this week, call them next week and the week after.

Self-reliant. Learn to work with minimal direction. Develop your own methods of reaching goals and achieving quotas. Be resourceful by developing leads and creating new sales opportunities.

Willing to learn. Be eager to learn as much as you can about your business, products/services, customers, the market, the competition and new sales techniques. Professional salespeople are rarely the top “product” experts but possess superior communication skills.

Top salespeople have these traits:

Ability to ask questions. Selling is asking, not telling; listening, not talking. Get all your questions answered. If a customer says they are not interested, ask them why and then probe extensively.

Service-oriented. Always ask what the customer wants and listen to what the customer says. You can’t talk and listen at the same time.

Don’t interrupt or finish someone else’s sentence. Listeners will still be writing orders while talkers talk themselves right out of a sale.

Turn objections into sales. An objection shows the customer is interested in what you are saying. Don’t ignore objections - answer them directly and use them to make the sale.

Nearly two out of three sales are made to customers who said no, up to five times.

Explain benefits. Too many sales people just talk features, but you must describe benefits. Simply put, a feature is what it does; a benefit is what’s in it for the customer.

For example, a feature in a new car is air conditioning. The benefit is that it keeps people cool during the hot summer.

Don’t win arguments. The old axiom holds true here:The customer is always right. If a disagreement occurs, favor the customer. You will benefit in the long run.

Keep politics and personal opinions out of your sales presentation, and remember not to win the battle at the risk of losing the war.

Have a strong close. This is the moment of truth, when you must ask for the order. Start with a trial close, and, if that doesn’t work, try again.

The best close is one with which you are most comfortable. Many top salespeople summarize all the important benefits when closing the sale.

Knowing when to interact with potential customers over the telephone rather than seeing them in person can make a difference when closing the sale. When prospecting use the telephone to make appointments, but keep in mind that the objective is to meet your customer in person.

The telephone is also an effective tool for staying in touch with prospects and customers. Direct-mail campaigns, telemarketing and cold-calling are other methods of generating leads.

When closing a deal, do so in person, face-to-face with the decision maker. It’s harder for a prospect to say no in person.

The application of common-sense techniques can lead to sales success. The only real secret is consistency: practice to be the best, stick with what works and correct what does not. Master your craft.

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