Get More ‘Sell’
Prepared and Creative Sales Team Can Conquer Objections and Add Sales
You probably spend plenty of effort and money on advertising, signage, business location and inventory breadth. All this is designed to attract prospects. So everyone coming through your door represents an investment, and those walking back out without buying is an expensive loss.
The usual reason such a prospect does not become a customer is a failure in the sales effort.
Following are some tips to help your sales staff convert prospects into customers, and then build the ticket by selling add-ons. Getting more sell from your sales staff is vital to a successful Bottom Line.
Encourage your staff to quit working so hard on what they want and instead hustle to help others get what they need. The definition of salesmanship is helping customers satisfy their needs or fulfill their dreams. Here’s how:
Early in the sales encounter learn the customer’s needs and tastes. Always avoid that horrible opening question: "May I help you?" You already know the answer: "No thanks, I’m just looking." That could stop you from making any suggestions or launching into creative selling. A good opening is: "What are you looking for? Perhaps I can help you." In any sales scenario, always avoid any question that can be answered with a point blank "No."
Warm and Fuzzy
Successful salespeople always get "next" to the customer. This comes from a realization that people appreciate those who are most like themselves.
Customers in the South don’t want to listen to a New York accent and vice versa. Better to adjust your speech inflection to the locale – when in Rome, speak Roman. And even body language can be important – look really interested when listening to a customer, even one with a complaint.
Giving a customer a warm and fuzzy feeling doesn’t mean you’ve made the sale. But it sure will make it easier.
Price and Objections
Help your salespeople develop direct responses to every possible major customer objection. Too many times a comment that the price is too high is ignored by the salesperson who just proceeds with the sales pitch. While it is always better to delay price until the selling process is well underway, once the subject comes up, don’t duck it. Here are some tips for this and other objection scenarios:
1. Repeat the customer’s objections, and ask why. You might ask: "Why do you think the price is too high?"
2. Discover whether the prospect is just surprised at the price range for this type of product or whether they feel the same product can be bought elsewhere for less.
3. Explain why the price is what it is, stressing the product quality (always in terms of customer benefits) and the service you put behind that product. No one else can give the service you do, and the customer should be made aware of that. This is called "wrapping some of yourself" into every sale.
Closing the Sale
Some of the most likeable salespeople, the charismatic ones, are also the worst closers. They have worked so hard at being liked that they hate to take a chance of rejection by forcing a customer decision. But since most merchandise is sold and not bought, it’s up to you to instill in your staff a hard-nosed approach to the close. Here are some tips on converting the selling conversation into a sales close.
l. At the first opportunity, ask any of several closing questions, always phrasing the question to avoid the simple "No" response that could terminate the deal right there. Never ask: "May I install these for you?" or "Can I write the order?" Instead, give the customer only positive choices, such as: "Which one of these two do you prefer?" or "What else would you like with this?"
2. Listen to the customer and answer all the questions, but ask your own questions and gently take charge. Remember that the one asking the questions drives the encounter. And consider any customer question as interest that can lead to a close. Be alert to any facial or vocal inflection, a nod or near smile that reveals acceptance of what you are saying.
3. Underline the urgency of acting now, such as the present sale price or that the product itself might not be available long.
Building the Ticket
Add-ons are every bit as important as the basic sale. The initial sale pays the rent and allows you to stay in business, but the add-on provides growth and prosperity for the store and the staff. We’re talking major add-ons here, not the obvious no-brainer sundry items sold at the counter.
Next time you’re in an apparel store, note how the top salespeople seek to include not just a tie or socks in a suit sale but also a shirt, a pair of slacks or even another suit. In a furniture store, the sale of an end table will always suggest a lamp. It’s surprising how a simple purchase can become a buying frenzy.
Some managers spark sales-staff interest in add-on selling by paying a bonus for every second item sold to a customer or a special prize for highest average of items sold per customer.
Motivating the Sales Staff
Should you pay more compensation to generate more sales? Are higher salaries needed to keep the best salespeople rather than have them flee to the competition? The answer to these and other motivational questions starts with analyzing your staff and studying the situation.
Every study shows that earnings are not the most important factor in employee satisfaction.
Even though employees believe that pay is No. 1, surveys conclude that recognition and security rank ahead of monetary compensation. But, and this is a big but, earnings are most important when staff perceives that you pay less than the competition.
To determine the prevailing compensation for your area, contact the Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or even your trade association. Then make it possible for your staff to earn what the competition is paying.
Beat the competition by working harder on employee relations than they do. Keep your staff part of the team by sharing information of your business with them or having a one-on-one chat with each individual at least weekly. Recognize outstanding efforts and results with a bonus or special mention.
So Why The Effort?
In this Bottom Line article, we’ve recommended spending a lot of time and effort on selling procedures. Why? Because in the last 10 years, per-capita retail space has doubled even while growth in number of adult consumers has slowed.
Plus, the retail tire business has become more and more competitive. Better sales are key to better business growth and vitality.
Popular or necessary products – like tires and vehicle service – are great or they wouldn’t be around very long. So, business success will rely not on the product but on sales and customer service.
John Rogers is an editor, a regular writer for business magazines, and has authored two frequently reprinted books: Store Planning and Store Operations. His monthly column – Business Sense – appears in Tire Review.