Sales 101

Sales 101


The Beginning


I first developed an interest in sales when I realized I didn’t want to go to college.  I read a book called Zig Ziglar’s Secret to Closing a Sale ( it can be purchased at this link ).


What made me interested in this book is when I learned I could make $100,000 a year without a college education (bare in mind I didn’t even have a completed high school education).


Once I finished reading this book I realized that the full potential of the sales industry gives you more reward than it’s given credit for.  


I was already working for a telemarketing company.  This job taught me the basics of sales, but they by no means developed me into the sales I could potentially later become.


What I learned is there are many different types of salespeople.  I am actually an anti-social salesperson who still enjoys the thrill of a sale.  The thickness of skin I developed working at a telemarketing company being called horrible things 100 times a day really helped set me up for success later, I just didn’t realize it at the time.  


What was difficult about telemarketing is that my strength is building long term relationships with customers.  The telemarketing industry doesn’t allow this because conversations rarely last more than 15 minutes and once you hang up you will never hear from that customer again.  With that being said, if you were in a telemarketing position and you failed, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are unable to be a successful salesperson.


Where telemarketing didn’t seem like the holy grail of sales positions, there were still employees who made over $100,000 a year in telemarketing.  This goes to show if you have an effective sales system, you can be successful in any type of sales position.  If you work with a company that does frequent marketing, you will have more leads that come in organically.  If you work for a company that does not frequently market, or market at all, you will have less leads that come in organically and they have to be sought after.  In reality, you need to be a company that does both.


Basics You Should Know


One thing I have found is that if I market in just one faucet (like Google) I get the same customers, and the same type of customers.  When you mix the types of marketing you are involved in, you will gain a variety of customer types.  Having your hand in multiple platforms increases the likelihood you will have incoming customers.


One thing I was taught early in my sales career is that if I am on the phone, I need to be smiling.  If I am actually smiling, the customer can hear my sincerity when I speak.


Know Who Your Customer Is


Depending on your industry, some platforms will be more effective than others.  For instance, if you wanted to get into industrial power washing services for the oil and gas industry, you would not solicit for the work on Facebook, you would solicit the work on Linkedin.  It is important for you to research your customer to find out what their needs are before you solicit them. 


If you are trying to sell window cleaning services and approach a building to solicit work that has no windows, this would be an example of not researching your customers.  If  you solicit someone to clean their parking lot, and you didn't realize that the person's office is actually 900 miles from your current location, this would be another example of where you need to research your customers before you solicit them.  Just because the decision maker lives in your town, doesn’t mean his decisions are made anywhere near that town.


Defining who your customers are will be the foundation of your business.  


Value In Your Products/Service


The next step is that you need to know your product.  If you don’t believe in your product, you will struggle selling the product regardless of what your reward would be for selling it.  There is value built in the conversation based on your knowledge of how that product is going to affect them.  For instance, if there is a bunch of slippery green algae on a brick walkway in front of an elderly woman’s home, it is easy to sell the value of cleanliness and safety, they can’t afford to not have it cleaned. 


Set Expectations


Never tell the customer you will get it 100% clean, just like how I don’t tell someone they will have it in 2 days (when there is a chance it will be 3 or 4 days).  Setting this expectation with your customers up front will build trust, because you are identifying a potential deficiency in your service, and it is easy for a customer to have relief when they feel their salesperson is honest. 


When this expectation is set, you and the customer have a resolution.  Underpromise and Overdeliver.


It is easier to set the expectation than beg for forgiveness.  This is especially important when selling to a client you have a long term business relationship with.  The customers you deal with on a regular basis will expect full transparency with your services. Our customers depend on this, because they can’t perform their job until these products reach them.


Asking the customer if they were to buy today, how soon will they need the service or product?  This will also help you choose the right product or service for the customer that would fit their time frame.  If it is an unreasonable time frame expectation from the customer, set the expectation with the customer on realistic time frames.  This will give clear guidelines of what is next. 


Trust


Building trust with your customers is a basic concept in sales, but somehow gets lost with many sales people.  To give an example, I had a customer who was going to purchase a 2nd power washer and when I asked them what they had and what they needed, we discovered they only needed a siamese kit.  The customer saved $9000 because I gave them a less expensive resolution that would help them achieve the same results.  The customer is fully aware it is economically against the salesperson to tell them this, and builds trust. I didn’t make a $9000 sale that day but this customer calls me first on everything moving forward and has sent several referrals that made more in the long run. This builds a strong long term relationship with a customer.  This relationship is now mutually beneficial, now that there is trust between both parties.


Make It Easy To Buy


This is a skill not a lot of business owners take seriously, but it is extremely important to many of your customers.  To some customers, this is the most valuable value in a business.  Amazon would be a prime example because it is so efficiently automated and they carry almost anything you will need.


There are times I am awake after work hours, and I have customers who are only up during late hours.  For these customers I make it easier for them to buy from because I am available to talk to them about their questions and having multiple options to pay. I also won’t tell the customers to go look at our website to figure out what they want. While you have their attention, answer all the questions and close the sale right then.


One thing I do is when I am talking to a customer and they are telling me what they want to purchase, I already have the order being generated on my end so that when they decide they want to make the purchase, I already have the order ready.  I don’t want my customers to have to do anything but provide the payment method. This is another example of making it easy to buy from.


Ask For The Sale


While you are talking to your customers, you can get drawn into many conversations and end the conversation without ever asking for their business.  


When talking to a customer for the first time, the best way to break the ice is to ask the customer questions.  What I will commonly ask is “what do you clean?”.   You want the customer to talk about themselves and tell you what they like, don’t like and what they think they want.  Once you have identified this you can build around it.


It is not rude to ask for them to make a purchase, that is why they are talking to you in the first place.  The 3 common things you will hear is I am ready to buy now, I am looking around or they are researching.  Sometimes you will speak with someone and they don’t even realize they need your services.  


If you don’t ask questions, you will never know.  If someone says they are not interested, ask them, why? You’ll find a lot of times, it’s because they just didn’t have enough information on the product or service you’re offering. 


Closing


You can close a customer multiple times.  The most common rebuttal from a customer is that “I am not interested”.  This means they don’t have enough information to be convinced they have a need for your product.  This doesn't actually mean they don’t need your product, you just haven’t sold them the value in it.  


Assuming the sale is the most effective way to close.  For us as vendors we would ask an open ended question like “how many of these machines are you going to need?” or “what address am I shipping your order to”.  Marco as  a contract cleaner would say something like “Let’s start cleaning the project next Tuesday”.  When you have a customer on the fence on what they want, offer them a choice close like “so did you want to go with the 5.5 or 8 GPM power washer?”.  Only give 2 options.  Too many options can overwhelm the customer, and an overwhelmed customer is less likely to immediately close on the sale.  When you are on Netflix and there are too many options on what you want to watch, it may take a while before you execute a decision because now you are in research mode.  Your customers will do the same, and make the process take longer than necessary when you have a good idea of what your customer already wants or needs.


If the customer has not made a final decision you want to be persistent and follow up with the customer.  However, you do not want to be pushy or become annoying to the customer either.


Conclusion  


Anyone can become a salesperson.  The reality is, everyone is a salesperson. You’re selling ideas, beliefs, yourself, a new restaurant you just tried. If you are convincing your wife that she wants to eat at PF Changs, you are selling her on why this will benefit her to choose what you’re offering.  If people just pay attention to how their customers are making buying decisions, it will make the salesperson's job easier.


Learning how to effectively sell is a skill you will use in any industry you ever work in.  To be able to continue power washing more properties, you will need to always either be or have an effective salesperson with your company.  You have to invest your time in sales in order to be a better salesperson.  You will not begin your business and immediately become flooded with leads, you have to build that sales funnel to get there.


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