As sales people too often we think of our conversations with customers and potential customers as ending when we hear the words, “Yes” or “No.” “Yes” of course is the one we want to hear, but more often than not, we hear “No.” If fact there are all sorts of facts and figures out there and may times we are even tracking stats ourselves that tell us things like “We need to make “15” calls to talk to “7” people to set “3” meetings to get 1 yes” and so forth. But in reality if we are to become successful at sales we need to move away from the simple “Yes” and “No.”
What we really need to strive for is a relationship with our customers where we are continually bringing them greater and greater value. When we approach sales from this perspective we will find that the “Yes” answers come naturally and the “No” answers eventually turn to that answer we are after, “Yes.”
So how do we do build relationship and bring value? First of all, we need to put ourselves into the mind of the person we are trying to sell to. We may be “sellers” but we are also “buyers” too.
Think about the last time you went into a store of any kind; electronic, department, clothing or even a hardware or home improvement store. Chances are you were there for a specific purpose, or item, right? It is also very likely that you may not have known EXACTLY where that item was. At some point, there was probably someone that approached you and asked if they could help you. The shoe is on the other foot now. You are the “buyer” and someone is trying to sell to you.
What was your response to their offer to help you find what you needed? I would bet that it was some variation of “No”. It isn’t that you didn’t need the help. Let’s face it, it would have been more convenient for them to take you right to the item and let you be. That isn’t how it works, because the world revolves around sales. It is that person’s job to take you to the item, make sure that you buy it and up-sell you on another item. In this instance your “No” means “I don’t know you or trust you yet.” Imagine instead that the sales person approached you and just started an informal conversation with you. About 4-5 sentences into the conversation they then ask you if you need help finding something. At that point you are much more likely to say “Yes.”
There are many strategies for building relationship but here are a few that I think are worthwhile:
1. Call people by their name: You need to remember their name, know how to pronounce their name and use it when you speak to them.
2. Get to know them on a personal level: Ask about their family, hobbies, history, loves, hates, anything and then–Remember it and follow up.
3. Be open and humble: We’re not just getting to know people so we can “work them.” We have a lot to learn and interaction and relationship with other people is a great way to become a better person. Believe that every person you come in contact with has something to teach you.
4. Make them important: When you are communicating with them focus entirely on them. People like to feel special.
5. Be vulnerable: Share yourself, your struggles, beliefs, history, etc. You cannot expect them to if you are not willing to.
Building relationship like this is the first step to turning those “No” answers into “Yes.” Next up is Bringing Value.
I believe that objects have no absolute value. They are worth what someone will pay for them and so that number can vary from day to day, and even place to place.
How much would you pay for a gallon of milk? I’m sure you have a number in your head that you would NEVER pay more than for a gallon of milk. Now, let’s just say the supermarket has a gallon of milk for $2.89. Monday morning you wake up, you’re getting the kids ready for school, and realize there is no milk for their cereal. The supermarket is 5 miles away. The convenience store on the corner has milk, but it is $4.18 a gallon. The value you see in that particular product just went up. You could normally purchase it for $2.89, and even at that very moment you could purchase it for $2.89, but you are about to pay a much higher price for the same product, because you see value in it being right up the street, instead of driving 5 miles to the supermarket, and 5 miles back. However, the reality is that you will go and pay the higher price for the milk but you will not be happy and really you’ll just be kicking yourself for not planning better.
Therefore, our goal is to not just present a product to a potential customer, it is to show them the value of it so that they are happy to buy it and not concerned with the price. Let me give you an example. At Presco one of our products is Marking, or “Stake” Flags. There are other companies who sell this product as well and although we strongly believe that ours is higher quality, they could be thought of us fairly equal. Therefore the first thing most customers will look at is the price, and rightly so. However, there are other things which bring value to the product. For example, at Presco we create value in many other ways.
- We pride ourselves in delivering quickly and accurately so that you get what you ordered and you get it on time.
- We have an excellent, informed and friendly customer service team that will interact with you and answer your questions.
- We have a great track record of quality control and work hard to continuously improve this.
- We work with our distributors and develop reward programs for loyalty and sales.
As you can see these all drive up the value of our product. Reflect back on that Marking Flag now. Is it the same product our competition is offering?
There’s one more thing that we do at Presco to bring value and this one increases the value drastically. We refuse to compete with our distributors. We do not sell direct and only sell to authorized distributors. In fact, when people contact us we refer them to you! All to often our competitors will not only sell direct, but when you place an order through them they not only ship the product to your customer, they include a catalog of all of their other products in the order! This not only doesn’t bring value, it decreases the value.
So, as sales people it is very important for us to approach a potential sale with the idea of “bringing value.” We are not selling simply Marking Flags, Barricade Tape or Roll Flagging, we are selling ourselves. Likewise, in your business you need to think about the products you offer and define the different ways that your company adds value to those products.