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Sales – The Big Picture

“A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.” – Abraham Lincoln

“If you can dream it, then you can achieve it. You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar

A) Why do People Buy Things?

B) The Features of What You Have To Sell

C) Benefits of Features

D) Listening to Needs

E) Matching The Benefits of Your Features to Their Needs

F) The Main Benefit You Offer

G) Time Leveraged Selling (TLS)

A) Why do People Buy Things?

Progress Now:

Think now of five things that you have ever bought, such as, a newspaper, car, house, holiday, chocolate, shampoo, stationary, a computer, pint of beer, new suit…..

Now, for one of the above, make a list of the reasons that you bought this item. What or who influenced you? How much importance did you put on the price? Did the packaging influence you? Did the person selling it to you convince you? Was how you felt at the time a deciding factor? What did you believe the product or service would do for you? Is this a product you have always bought and you rigidly stick to this brand? What were your criteria for making a decision? If there was a representative involved what about them did you like and what did you not like?

Now considering the other items, were the factors similar or different? What can you conclude from this? Turning it around, what have you learnt about what you must do to sell your proposal to others effectively?

The first rule of effective selling is to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. In other words, to see the communication from the point of view of the recipient. People buy things for a variety of reasons. They must have a need or a perceived need with the cash or credit to back it up. Their strongest and most urgent needs will get priority.

So, with this knowledge your first task is to target the segment of the market, at the time that you think would be most appropriate for your proposal. If you are selling meat pies don’t ring vegetarians! Or to put it another way: A mousetrap, however advanced, only works if there are mice about. Finding where the mice are in business is called marketing. Enticing them to the mousetrap is called sales. Of course the difference being is that our mousetrap is full of quality cheese without any trap! Marketing is a specialist area in itself. Although I give tips in this work it is predominantly about selling for entrepreneurs. Who needs what I have to offer, who could need it? Who, why, what when and where are the opportunities? There are some good reference books in the bibliography on marketing.

B) The Features of What You Have To Sell

The first piece of the sales process is to understand all the features, the attributes of your product(s) or service(s). Here are three different examples:

a. A Karate Club

The club teaches the Wado Ryu style of Karate and runs adult sessions on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at various locations. It also offers a choice of times and venues for children’s classes. It cost £6 per session, which will comprise a thorough workout, covering all areas of fitness including stretching, muscle tone etc. The Karate spirit along with meditation and mind discipline skills will be taught. There are ten grades/belts to black belt level. Every March there is a Kumite (Tournament) held in Horsham, Sussex. It is open to both genders and all ages, and there are several senior black belt instructors. All details can be found on www.horshamkarateclub.com

b. Curriculum Vitae Writing Service

Our service will design your CV using an expert in sales and marketing. The CV will be less than three sides long of A4 and it will be thoroughly proof read. The price is £99.99.

c. Specialty Pens

Our pens are five inches long with a thick easy rubber grip. They come in four different colours-red, blue, brown and black. A company or personal identification can be printed on them. The cost is £1 each.

Progress Now:
For whatever product and service you offer write down the features. OK. You are at the first step of the sales process, this is just the start. Most people in selling make the mistake of just selling the features. It is a good start but a sad mistake. If they went to the next stage their sale results would be greatly increased.

C) Benefits of Features

A feature in itself is a factual statement of truth, no more than a description. When you start to look at what benefits can come from those features, you are starting to really sell. To find the benefit of any particular feature, all you have to do is ask some very basic questions of it. “What is the benefit to someone of this feature? This will leave you with a list of features followed by a statement bridged by which means that.

Using our examples:

a) Karate classes for adults are on Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays

Which means that you have a good choice of when it fits into your timetable.
Which means that you can attend all of them and accelerate your progression.
Which means that if you get behind for whatever reason you can catch up.

b) Your CV will be designed by an expert in sales and marketing

Which means that techniques of persuasion are fully used in the content.
Which means that you can spend your time looking for job opportunities.

c) Our pens are five inches long with a thick easy rubber grip.

Which means that they will fit into your pocket easily.
Which means that they don’t slip when you are writing with them.

Of course for each feature there could be several benefits.

Progress Now:

Write down at least ten features of what you are selling, together with two benefits for each feature:

You now have twenty reasons why somebody should buy from you!

OK. You are at the second step of four of the sales process. Most people in selling who understand and know all the features don’t appreciate the benefits of what they have to offer. If you don’t know all the benefits of what you have to offer you can be sure your prospective customer wont. So if you understand both features and benefits, well done, your sales results will significantly increase when you apply what you have done so far.

It is a very good start, but a sadly lacking a key element. If you progress to the next stage your sales results will be greatly increased.

D) Listening to Needs

So far we have concentrated on knowing about what you have to offer. Let us change tack completely for a moment and put our attention totally on a prospective customer. If someone is considering joining a Karate School or having a CV professionally designed, what needs are they trying to satisfy?

a) Karate school. Fitness, self defence, getting out and meeting people, networking, mental discipline………

b) CV Service. A new job, which breaks down to interviews, a livelihood, etc.

c) A Pen. Writing, must not leak in a pocket, clips to side of jacket….

Each individual is different and their needs or perceived needs are what motivates them to make the initial inquiry or respond favourably to someone approaching them. These needs could include a whole range of things. Their needs can be emotional as well as tangible. Help others get what they want.

Want Need

Washing Powder Clean Clothes

Rental Car Transportation

Beer Money Food

The want is just the answer to the need that they have come to. There may be other ways of satisfying that need. There may be other products and services that are also useful. All opportunities for selling are by making a happy customer.

Price, feeling good, safety, customer service, speed, efficiency, reliability,

Progress Now:
From the two last people you sold something to, what motivated them to buy from you? What basic needs were they satisfying? OK. You are at the third step of the sales process. You now understand features, benefits and needs. Well done. Your sales results will greatly increase by applying these simple yet effective principles. However you still have not reached their potential. There is one more step you can take that can make an equal leap in your results.

E) Matching The Benefits of Your Features to Their Needs

You know your features and the benefits that they offer. You have listened to your prospective customer and established what their needs are. You now need to marry the two together. First list their needs in priority order. Don’t try to be clever on this but work with them. For each need in order, list what benefit your product or service offers that satisfies that particular need. When you have tied these up, most people will buy from you, because they can see that their criteria are being met.

So the basic sales process is:

Know all the features of what you offer.
Know and write down all the benefits of those features.
Listen to each potential customer until you know their needs.
Tell them the benefits you offer that satisfy their needs.
Simple isn’t it? Well this is how top performing sales professionals do it. It is simple and works if you apply it. Of course you may find that when you know their needs, your offer might not satisfy them. You have two choices. To change what you offer, particularly if you keep getting this feedback. Good business at the end of the day is supplying people with what they need, or think they need, and have money to back it. Keep asking yourself questions like: Where is your market moving? Are you evolving with it? What am I selling? In what way is it unique? If you find selling hard work, then you might be offering the wrong thing. Ask people what they want, listen to them and then offer it to them. Don’t assume you know what they want or will buy. They will think differently to you, having a whole different set of logic. To help find opportunities you need to be focused and looking all the time, covered at length in my book, “Entrepreneur”. We are here of course moving out of the area of sales and into marketing.

The other area of sales that we have not touched on yet is how to find prospective customers in the first place, to make our pitch to. Again, this is largely the realm of marketing, advertising, mail shots, web sites, telesales and networking.

The best way to sell is to find something where you are swimming with the tide and that the tide is not likely to change directions in the near future. When the tide changes, change with it. If you find yourself in a market of over supply, then you need to differentiate your product more. I have found though, that professional sales people in all industries when asked; “What are the thirty benefits of a customer buying your product?” could not give me an answer. The world of selling is full of enormous opportunity!

Techniques can be learnt from reading this book and applied to effect the same day. The beauty of being an entrepreneur is that you have the ability to improve your income in the short term. Many people have to wait for an annual review!

F) The Main Benefit You Offer

There is an old saying amongst sales professionals. “People buy people first and whatever else second.” It means that part of what a customer buys is the privilege of dealing with you. We all like to deal with people we like, trust and have faith in. Some people on learning sales believe that they have to change personality to become a good sales person. Not at all. I have personally met a whole range of top sales superstars of wildly different personalities. There is a general image of such a person, but it is often not true. I know many such people who are quite, shy and introvert which is the exact opposite of what people view them as. Anyone can be a good listener. You see for selling the important personality is that of the person you are selling to, not yours. So work with your own personality, do not try and change it, but become a better and more capable you.

Progress Now:

G) Time Leveraged Selling (TLS)

These best types of customers can be summed up as follows.

Those that have a need for what you offer.
Those that are financially secure.
Those that are growing.
Those that are very choosy in who they give their business to (Once you get them it is hard for a competitor to take them away).
Those that make repeat orders.
Those that give large order customers.
Those that help you develop other customers.
Assess the value of each of your customers by giving them a point for each of the above. Ask yourself what you can do to give them a higher grading.

The first way to save time is right at the start by doing some thinking relative to what you offer and figure out the best market opportunities. Those that have a need and the money to pay for it. There can be many of ways to market though depending on what business you are in exactly. You need to define before you start a profile or profiles of potential customers, and included on this if companies, who within that company would make or influence a purchasing decision.

For the entrepreneur the biggest limit to revenue growth is your set up. If you are self-employed, your income can be totally dependent upon your labour, whether you are a plumber or a motivational trainer. This is not good business long-term. The best way to make money is passively, i.e. it comes in without you having to be there. You also have very limited growth potential if increases in sales can only be met by you. Also as a one person band in practice you will find that the time you spend on sales activity robs your billing time. The formula is just not an efficient one for making money. Whilst the enterprise is dependent on you, the more vulnerable you are.

Be wary of selling what you want to do, instead of listening for needs and then providing acccordingly. Most entrepreneurs limit their business potential by focusing on their “dream and passion”. That is fine but it makes sense to get the business financially secure first. You get what you focus on. If your overwhelming focus is to make money, then automatically your mind will be geared to seeing opportunities to doing just that. Job satisfaction will be a more secondary motivation. I cannot stress it enough-business is about providing for somebody else what they want. Selling is far more about listening than talking.

Entrepreneurs have more shortage of cash and time than other people in business. So you have to be brighter and more creative. There are an abundance of ways whatever you do to advertise in a way that costs you no up-front cash or time. This book advertises my services as an author, speaker, motivator, consultant, coach and trainer all of which I am and offer. Well, it has now! It is currently costing me no time or money. It certainly took time to write but I am being paid for that in terms of royalties. I have also set up a career coaching business. It cost me nothing to set up. That is right absolutely nothing. I approached recruitment websites and offered them a sales commission to put all of my services on their site. Interestingly they did not have to pay anything to set up an extra income stream either. Their clients now get added services from them and everyone is a winner.

Find out who could be a reseller of your product or service for a commission. That way you do not have to provide cash or time. If you are the recipient of a telesales call or a mail shot letter, turn it around. You have just been presented with the contact details of a prospect. The telesales call is on their bill!

A lot of communication these days is through e-mail. There are a few golden rules to make it happen. Firstly make sure the subject line grabs attention and will ensure that the e-mail is opened because it is meaningful and personal. Everyone receives so much junk mail we have all developed a trigger happy delete finger. If you have had a recent chat with someone, put “Recent Chat” for example. The second rule is keep it short, simple and to the point. If it is to confirm something the subject line alone can suffice. Thirdly, develop some standard letter responses that you can just paste in with a click.

Fourthly, have at least one default signature which carries information on you and what you are selling, web page, any offers etc.

Progress Now: What action can you take now to leverage your selling time?

H) Big Picture Tips

Is what you offer special or are you indistinguishable from your competitors. If you are not special you need to do something to make it so. In the book which I co-authored with Kevin Uphill on how to buy and sell a business for capital wealth, we cover in depth how to make your business stand out. Before you start selling make sure that something special is included.

If you talk or write excitedly and enthusiastically you can virtually let the words take care of themselves. First get their attention, then interest, followed by building desire and tell them what action they have to take. The common sales acronym A.I.D.A (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) is a good basic reminder to live by. One of the biggest drawbacks that professional sales people have is that they come over as just that. This does not get attention and interest and usually triggers off a, “defence against sales pitches” type of response.

Remember that other people saying you are good is 100 times better than you saying it yourself. What are you most likely be influenced by? A friend saying that his local Indian restaurant is the best in the world she thoroughly recommends it, or an advert in the local paper saying they are the best in the world.

Get the telephone bill up and get out and meet people. You wont make any useful contacts sat at home. If you have something that might genuinely help me in my life then contact me (via web page www.alexmcmillan.com). There, a free lead for you for reading my book. I am always open to ideas.

If you are doing some canvass calls, make sure you finish on a positive call. In fact set your goals not by number of calls or time spent but by achievements. Decide on three positive sales calls per day. That way if it takes five minutes or five hours, 3 calls or thirty is irrelevant. If you do just a little and are rejected there is a stronger tendency to remember the experience as rejection. Focus only on the achievements, the rest is irrelevant.

There are some different rules for selling to corporates and individuals. Individuals make their own decisions with money coming from their pocket. Corporates can have much deeper pockets and the decision maker is not spending his personal money. They can also have a long and complicated decision making process. Always test if you are making prospecting calls by trying 10 with one approach and 10 with another to see what works best.

If someone does not buy now, do two things. One, diary them for a call at a future date and then ask them for a referral of someone they know that might be interested now. Always remember that people are obsessive about spending money, it is our favourite thing to do. Just imagine how much money is changing hands every seconds through cash, cheques, credit cards etc, it is a colossal flow. There are more £10 notes change hands every second than drops of water flowing over Niagara Falls, and this book is full of buckets! All you have to do is get on the receiving end of that flow and get your share.

Remember that at first you need to arouse their curiosity, not satisfy it. Always ask what else to existing clients, focus on their end results. Make it easy for them to get onto the customer train, perhaps by a small start and then upgrade. If practical let the prospective customer experience as fully as possible your product or service. Let them get used to the idea of being a customer.

The Internet now lets you sell worldwide from your bedroom. Personally though I am not a big believer in having you own web page. Mainly because everybody and their friend has one and the time and costs in operating them and marketing them can be excessive. What I am a big believer in is using other people’s web pages free of charge. That way they get the burden of maintaining the site, marketing it and all the costs. You can have the advantage of being on many such web sites. All you have to do is find complimentary sites and offer them a commission on anything of yours that they sell.

You can also write articles for free all over the Internet. Whatever the subject there is a demand. If you sell cuddly toys, write an article on the role of cuddly toys in early leaning and surf the net for relevant sites. All you need is you name and e-mail address at the end. I have picked up some of my best clients this way.

I asked a self-made millionaire once, how easy is it to make a £million. He said, “it is simple, any fool can do it, it baffles me why more don’t.” You know what, the rest of my research agrees with him. What often stops people is that they are making it to complicated.

Progress Now: Have a stroke of genius right now!

To organise a training for your staff email training@successmoves.co.uk or call 0203-6759099.