Salespeople, especially those who are unseasoned or just average, are afraid of rejection.  They think that to make a sale happen, they need to be loved--and just like my 4 year-old who offers up anything and everything including "being my best friend" when he wants to win an argument--they offer the sun, the moon, and the stars. The truth is, however, being the best friend of your customer, the way most sales reps define it, will mean forsaking the needs of your company, rather than finding a way for both your client and your business to get what they need. Teach them these techniques to bring their sales to a close with confidence and compassion.

 

  1. Your product has value. Make sure your salespeople know what that value is in the eyes of their customers. Often, as business owners or marketing managers, we hand our sales team a list of bullet points laying out all the attributes of a given product or service, but forget to help them understand how those attributes create value in the lives of the customer. Without that understanding, they'll revert to selling by any means necessary, instead of by selling smart.
  2. Your product is unique. Make sure your salespeople understand who your competitors are and how your product or service is different. Let them know that mentioning the competitors does not risk sending the customer to the enemy, but rather is a great way to help their customer to determine that your product is best for his needs, and make a confident purchase. No need to beg, whine, or cajole.
  3. Your product is priced correctly. Discounts, promotions, and sales are unnecessary when the customer sees the value in your product or service. If your sales rep feels he has to resort to price haggling, he has not adequately communicated the value of the product to the customer--and he needs to go back to step 1, and make his proposition clearer--rather than trying to get the close by throwing in meaningless extras.
  4. Your product will change lives. Whether the product being sold is a new technology, a handmade purse, or a cooking class, it will make the life of your customer better-- by helping her to organize herself, to look stylish while supporting artisans, to bring health and nutrition into her life, etc. If your sales rep approaches every conversation with clients with this conviction, he will cultivate buy-in without having to sacrifice anything.
  5. Your product is best sold now, not tomorrow. Sales reps, when desperate, will try almost anything to convince the customer to buy something--except the most effective technique of all--simply asking if the customer is ready to make the purchase. If you ask your sales rep whether they think the customer would like to have something better in their life right away if it was possible, rather than next week, or next year, he will answer resoundingly "yes!". Ask him to keep that in mind when he has completed steps 1-4 with each prospect, and literally ask the customer if he can help the customer start making the most of your product by selling it to him today.

Salespeople do the best when they understand that their customers will love them for listening carefully, for being knowledgeable, for telling the truth, and for helping their customer to make the right decision. There is no need to make empty promises, act aggressive, or cut prices. Customers feel most assured when they know that what they are buying will meet their needs and cost accordingly.

Published on: May 15, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.