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How to Sell When You Have Never Sold Before!

written by: Beverley Lee•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 7/19/2011

The word "selling" can scare some people, especially if you need to do it for your own business. It is a conversation with certain pointers to draw in potential customers to buy. A friendly smile, good product knowledge and professionalism along with some selling skills will win you customers.

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    We All Sell

    Have you ever had to get someone to do something they were not keen on? Say a friend doesn't want to go out, but you persuade them. Everyone does this all the time and this is essentially selling. You are trying to get someone to buy your product or service and if they have contacted you either by email, phone or are in your shop, then there is already an interest. There is no need for hard selling or being pushy, all it takes is a gentle conversation. However, there are skills for selling for non sales people and here, you'll learn to sell products or services for your own business.

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    Questioning

    Talking heads 

    A customer has contacted you and wants to meet face to face. First of all, you have to find out the exact need of your potential customer.

    I will use a lawn mower as an example. What, why, when, who, where and how are the questions you need to use. What does he want to use it for, his own garden, is he buying it for someone else or is he a gardener by trade? This leads to where is he using it, in his own garden or a variety of gardens (he may mow his friends or relatives gardens too) or for his work. Why is he buying a lawn mower - has his old one broken and what model was his old one? When does he need it? Or, is he just be browsing for the future. If he is genuinely looking to buy in the future, give him your card and ask for his phone number to call him with any deals or upcoming offers.

    Who will be using the new mower? Only him and his partner or is he buying it for his mother? How will he use it, will it be on a bumpy surface, does he need a gas or electric model? During the conversation, you can establish all these facts to point him to the right machine. Not only does it show you are interested in him and his lifestyle and care about what you sell him, but you are also getting the right information to demonstrate the perfect lawn mower for his needs.

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    Think About It

    Question mark 

    After you have been through all the above and pointed him in the right direction, you may get the response, "I need to think about it." You don’t want him to do that as there is a good chance he will buy on the Internet or somewhere else and won’t come back so you need to convince him to buy here and now. There is an on-going trend for people to go and look at an item in a shop and then go and buy on the Internet, but there are many disadvantages you can highlight.

    So your response to that comment is, “Can I ask what it is you need to think about?” If he doesn't respond, go through various options until you get to the price. Then he may say he can it cheaper on the Internet. You then point out the disadvantages which are delivery costs, delays, defects, having to send it back, parts missing, not knowing the company and not actually meeting anyone from the company. With all these disadvantages added to the advantages you offer such as no delivery fees, and if there are any problems he can come back to the shop, along with excellent after-sales service, will help close the deal.

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    Negotiation

    Your potential customer is almost convinced he now wants to negotiate. He may suggest he won't go and buy from the Internet if you lower the price. But what if you don't want to do that? As a small business owner, any price reductions reduce your profit and if you keep reducing prices, you could end up with no business. Tell him this, point out that as a small business owner, you cannot afford to slash prices but you can offer excellent customer service which large companies often cannot, or it is a slow process. You are conveniently located (presumably if he has walked in off the street), and can provide all his gardening needs in the future and want to create an on-going relationship.

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    The Close

    Shaking hands2 If the customer is really wavering, now you must go in for the close. Offer him a sweetener, spare blades, a trowel, a cover for the lawn mower or some other inexpensive item. You could also offer him a discount off future purchases if he recommends friends (have some vouchers printed). Deal done!

    There you are - a simple conversation showing him you care about what you are selling him! By making sure he purchases the lawn mower that best meets his needs and demonstrating the disadvantages of an Internet purchase, a customer can be swayed that price is not everything. Good customer service and after sales service is worth a few more dollars to most people. You have also achieved a win-win - you have made a sale to a customer who should have exactly the right lawn mower for his needs and who feels valued.

    I have used lawn mowers as an example, but if you are offering a service, say accountancy, the same principles apply. Discover your potential customer's needs and demonstrate your professionalism. Give him a reason to use your services, rather than your competition - what can you offer they can't? In service industries, it can just be your personality that closes the deal or something extra you include your competition does not. Show the potential client what types of services he will receive and explain how they work and make the offered documents pleasing to the eye in an attractive brochure - this will surely help close the deal.

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    Final Points

    So, basically, selling is asking the right questions, creating a good impression and showing a genuine interest in your customers. Always get their contact details and every three months or so send them a card or email to remind them of your existence and special offers. If you happen to know their birthday, send them a card with a small discount or voucher. Make your customers feel valued. Small gestures such as these go a long way in growing your business. Remember, selling for non sales people, is not hard, it simply takes dedication and practice to succeed.

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    References

    Author has over twenty years selling to consumers and businesses.

    Images:

    People talking: Courtesy of author.

    Question mark: Freedigitalphotos/Master isolated images

    Shaking hands: Freedigitalphotos/Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot