How to sell to humans: 7 sales techniques for small businesses
Posted: Tue 26th Nov 2013
'Sales' doesn't have to be a dirty word. In fact, you could say that - as business owners - we're all sales people. Every role, every voice, every decision taken in any company is designed to increase sales.
Jonny Cameron (@jonnycameron) is a digital marketer working with Retail Merchant Services in the Payment Processing industry.
Dan Pink's book 'To Sell is Human' investigates how the entire sales platform has changed more over the last ten years than in the previous 100. According to his research involving 9000 respondents, people are now spending about 40% of their time at work engaged in 'non selling selling': persuading, influencing, and convincing others in ways that don't involve anyone actually making a purchase. We devote around 24 minutes of every hour to moving others.
So how do we 'move' others? Here are some of the best sales techniques out there:
1. Are you sold?
It is much easier to sell to a customer if you genuinely believe the product you are selling can have benefits for their lifestyle. You need to know your product inside and out and then you need to know your competitors' products so that you can say with honest reassurance that what you are selling is better. Conviction is one of the strongest sales skills that you can have.
2. Build a relationship
Before you even start to talk about your product, find a common ground for conversation. In a physical shop this can be a nicely dropped introduction about the lovely weather or an offer of assistance. Relationship-building is the basic rule of any online marketing. Nowadays people can select the marketing messages they want to read. Online you need to build relationships by producing content that adds value to your readers' lives.
3. Create demand
By knowing your potential clients, you will know the challenges that they are trying to overcome. Are you selling a lawnmower? Does your lawnmower cut the grass shorter than all the others? Work out what is important to your customer and then respond with the key sales messages that could help to create demand. This is much more effective than just blurting out sales messages that aren't relevant to the customer's needs.
4. Display bargains
Humans love bargains. They need to feel like they have saved money in order to avoid a bad case of buyers' remorse ten minutes after signing on the dotted line. Display the prices your competitors are charging, mark items with discounts and highlight reduced to clear sections.
5. Don't know? Don't speak
If you are asked a question that you don't know the answer to, say nothing. Waffling on without the correct facts or an obvious idea of what you are talking about will diminish your credibility and leave you looking very stupid. Follow up the enquiry with the correct information as soon as you can to let your customer know that you are keen to help.
6. The countdown
The luxury of time allows people to dither and say they will come back to you in due course. They probably won't. Introducing offers that come with time sensitivities will encourage your customers to commit more readily. If you can see that prices will be returning to their RRP five days from now, you are much more likely to act within those time constraints.
7. Follow up
A sale isn't finished as soon as you have names on contracts or cash in the till. Providing a follow up service to check that your customer is happy with your product is vital to helping you to identify any issues in your sales process. Was the product delivered a day late? Did it sing and dance just like you said it would? It is better to get this information directly from your customers rather than finding out they have placed a poor review online months later. A happy customer is a customer that comes back.
And if you recognise that you're selling to humans, they will.
Photo Credit: timparkinson via Compfight cc