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Steps to selling
Your sales figures rely on careful research and planning, authentic communication and tactical skills in persuasion and closing a sale.
You can develop a successful sales process for your business using these 10 essential steps to selling. Depending on the size and type of sale, multiple steps can be done at the same time or in a different order.
1. Find customers
- Research your potential customer base.
- Identify your tactics for finding new customers in your sales and marketing plans.
- Gather information about your customers' needs, such as:
- what motivates them to buy
- how they prefer to shop
- what they spend their disposable income on.
2. Plan your approach
- Review information you have gathered about your customers and their needs.
- Consider what products you have that meet their needs.
- Plan to communicate with credibility.
- Be clear about your purpose. Are you making contact to convey information, arrange a time to meet or hand over your business card?
3. Make initial contact
- Approach your prospective customer in a way that comforts them and builds their trust in you. Use friendly and courteous body language, facial expressions and manners.
- Use an anecdote or relevant fact to establish their interest. For example, describe a recent customer who received the kind of benefits they are looking for.
- Use humour, and be open and genuine.
- Don't take up more time than you need. Get to the point quickly.
- Make an observation about something your customers have, or say, that relates to your products.
4. Identify specific customer needs
- Determine an individual customer's needs each time you have contact with them. A regular customer may want 'the usual' or they want to try something new.
- Ask questions that are relevant to your customer's needs and your products. Questions can be
- direct — for example, 'Do you find it hard to keep your carpets clean?'
- open-ended — for example, 'Tell me about the products you're using at the moment.'
- for clarification — for example, 'So you're really looking for a product you can use outdoors, is that right?'
5. Select the appropriate product or service
- Consider your product range and choose the product or service that best meets the needs you've identified.
- If you have several options to choose from, pick one and focus on it.
6. Make the sales presentation
- Present your product's features, but focus on its benefits.
- Be enthusiastic and show your conviction.
- Explain what makes your product different from the others.
- Anticipate likely questions or reactions and be prepared to respond to them.
- Use examples of your product's success.
- Use up-selling or cross-selling techniques to introduce your customer to related products.
7. Handle objections
- Be prepared for what customers will say, and be ready to respond. For example
- Objection: 'Sorry, I don't have the time today.'
- Response: 'No problems. I'm more than happy to book you a 10-minute test run another afternoon this week so you can take advantage of our complimentary offer.'
- Recognise your customer's comments by acknowledging their views and then responding with solutions.
- Ask questions about their views to find ways to address them.
- Restate the customer's objection. By saying it aloud, you can reduce its impact.
8. Close the sale
- Use your sales skills to look for signals that indicate the client is ready to make a purchase (e.g. they ask specific questions about availability or warranties).
- Stop talking — give your customer a chance to fill the silence and say yes.
- Offer a choice that assumes their purchase (e.g. 'Would you prefer the medium or large?').
- Address the customer's minor questions or decisions about the product to eliminate all of their obstacles.
- Offer an incentive, such as a discount or free purchase next visit.
9. Follow up
- Offer after-sales service and deliver on whatever you've said you'll do.
- Check in with your customer after the sale to see if they are happy with the product.
- Look for the next selling opportunity by drawing the customer's attention to related products or upcoming specials.
- Build on your rapport to establish a relationship over the longer term.
10. Review the sales
- Gather information about your business's sales performance and product popularity.
- Do some customer research. You could use customer feedback forms to evaluate customer satisfaction.
- Look for issues in product performance and take-up, and identify where your sales tactics and sales team are most and least effective.
- Consider what you have learned and make relevant changes to your sales plan.