Sales Skills

by Jeremy Cassell and Tom Bird

Common questions

  1. Do I really need to follow a process when selling?
  2. What’s the difference between transactional and consultative selling?
  3. Surely it’s just a matter of getting out and selling; why do I need to plan?
  4. Where does trust come into this?
  5. How do I overcome objections?
  6. What do buyers really want?
  7. How can I manage an existing customer?

 

1. Do I really need to follow a process when selling?

However you sell (online, face to face or on the telephone), it is likely that there will be a series of steps that you can, or do, follow that take you from an initial conversation with a prospect through to the closing of a sale. There may be some specific nuances and process steps, depending on the nature of your market, product, service and purchaser. The main benefit of having and following a sales process is that you can monitor and measure your performance in each step. This enables you to focus on developing better results at each stage of the process, thereby improving your sales and your consistency.

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2. What’s the difference between transactional and consultative selling?

In transactional selling, the focus is on finding prospects with a requirement, to develop relationships, focus on features and benefits and to take orders for the desired products or services at an acceptable price to all parties. The customers are likely to have a clear need for a ‘standard’ product or service and will be interested in sources that can provide it at the right time and at an acceptable price.

In consultative, solution or relationship selling (all synonyms), the salesperson develops a greater understanding of the challenges faced by the customer and there is likely to be a tailored solution. Questioning and listening become more important than communicating features and positioning statements.

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3. Surely it’s just a matter of getting out and selling; why do I need to plan?

In sales, a lot of ‘plans’ are actually targets. You might have a sales plan that relates to a revenue or margin figure, for example, but you need to plan the aspects of your sales work to achieve the results you want. Almost every aspect of what you do could benefit from a plan. With planning, you can be more objective and thoughtful about what you need to do to achieve your goals, ensuring that you do not miss out anything that could make a crucial difference.

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4. Where does trust come into this?

If you think about the psychology behind selling, trustworthiness is of critical importance. Would you buy something from someone whom you did not trust? And yet how do you guarantee that a customer/prospect will trust you? We would argue that trust comes from three core areas:

  • Competency (ability or skill)
  • Integrity (being honest, sound, moral)
  • Benevolence (disposition to do good).

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5. How do I overcome objections?

In traditional sales training, salespeople are often taught to ‘overcome’ an objection. If you were buying, would you really like your objection ‘overcome’? You would surely feel more comfortable if any objection was handled sensitively and addressed sensibly. An objection is a reservation or concern about some aspect of a service/product that may prevent a sale taking place. Objections may just be the buyer suggesting

  • Give me more information before I decide
  • I need a little more proof that your product really will fill my needs
  • I’m almost convinced, but I need just one more reason to justify me saying yes.

Your task is to understand the reason for the concern and help provide a response that meets the concern.

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6. What do buyers really want?

Too often, we promote features when it is benefits that our customers are buying. We buy petrol to go places, not because of the value of the liquid itself. Nobody who bought a drill wanted a drill: they wanted a hole. The trick is to orientate your presentations and sales conversations, either face to face or on the telephone, so that you present selective benefits – not features – to the customer. Selective, because buyers are now more sophisticated and will get turned off by poor use of the feature-benefit model, which was born out of the transactional method of selling.

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7. How can I manage existing customer?

If you are to be truly effective at managing customer relationships, you need to bear in mind the following five key points:

  • Avoid making assumptions
  • Be proactive
  • Set relationship goals
  • Consider how you move the depth and value of the relationship forward
  • Manage difficulties when they occur.

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