Many businesses invest significantly in the production and marketing of their products and services. But once a customer is through the door and shows interest in a product or service, until the sale is closed, no profit has been made from all that investment. Here are some ways to help businesses close more sales:
Set and measure targets. Businesses can’t improve what they’re doing until they measure what they’re doing. Unfortunately, many small business owners still think that widespread reach will eventually result in some purchases.
This is not an effective sales strategy. Keeping track of how many leads a business deals with during a set period, and how many become paying customers will provide a good estimate of that business’ conversion rate. Business owners can then set targets against this rate (aiming to improve it, of course) and measure their performance against them.
Listen. Many sales staff launch into a description of a product and its features or benefits without actually taking the time to ask the customer about what they want. Understanding the problem a client is facing will help a business to know which features and benefits to highlight and what can be sold as a solution.
Use testimonials. Testimonials from satisfied clients are generally more effective than self-promotion or praise. Including stories of positive customer experiences in marketing material and collecting feedback will show what customers enjoy and want more of, but also builds a business’ credibility with other customers.
Use a sales script. The purpose of scripts is not for sales staff to spout them at every customer, but to ensure that all the bases have been covered and that staff are dealing with customers in a consistent manner.
Learn from others. Sales is like any other activity – it can be learnt from experts. Educating sales teams by reading, attending training, workshopping tough past experiences and documenting what works and doesn’t can help business owners boost their sales teams’ effectiveness.
Actually ask for the sale. Bizarrely, many sales people forget to actually ask the customer to buy a product or service. It may be out of a fear of rejection or losing the sale, but it’s often an important step that might help seal the deal. There are ways of asking without pushing, but it is important that it’s actually asked.
* Harry Welby-Cooke is the is the co-master franchisor for ActionCOACH in Southern Africa.