This article is the third in a series. For Part 1, please click here. Part 2 of the series can be found here. 

By Steven Cox, General Manager of Allwest Auto Parts

Edmonton, Alberta -- February 26, 2014 -- In previous articles, we discussed basic principles used by successful salespeople, along with tips on how to understand your customer. No matter how much you know, it all comes down to how you present yourself and what you say. 

Most of your customer’s first contact with your sales team is just over the phone making their choice of words and presentation crucial. The familiar expression “is your glass half full or half empty?” is how you should look at your sales presentation.
 
In other words, your sales team needs at always represent your company in a positive manner. If a customer is told “No, I don’t have it,” it would be better to say “I am sold out.” If there a delay in getting a customer their order, it could be due to a staff member that called in sick, or perhaps you are behind and your sales people will feel it’s best to be honest and tell this exact fact to the customer. 
 
This customer now has lost confidence in your company and feels that you are incompetent to provide reliable and good customer service. The salespeople do need to be honest. However, a better statement would be to apologize and tell the customer that their order is currently assigned and that the salesperson will personally give it priority, giving a time frame when possible.
 
All customers want to feel like they are a priority, and why not? If you can be successful at making all your customers feeling special, you will have many repeat customers!
 
Customers don’t want to hear excuses and don’t care about your problems. They want to know what’s going on and know that you are on top of things and that you are truly looking after them as best as you can.
 
Maintaining communication with your customers is very important. Most of the time, your customer can tolerate a delay, as long as they are informed so that they can plan around it. Try not to do it again and this would be a good opportunity to do that something a little bit extra. 
Let’s go back to saying “no.” I hate that word and have worked really hard to remove it out of my sales team vocabulary,  along with other words and statements such as can’t, won’t, maybe,  I think so, I don’t know and I will try.
 
These are all questionable and may not be directly negative. They are what I classify as “half empty” words. They are not decisive nor do they portray confidence!
 
Top salespeople do nothing that might decrease the odds of making a sale, and that includes image. How do you and your sales team look? Are they well groomed, have clean clothes and are professionally dressed? Do you have clean and organized customer areas? How do your products look when you present them to your customer? It’s getting your customer to be impressed and confident with you and your product.
 
Encourage and appreciate objections! This is just a customer’s way of asking questions. Remember, the sale cannot be made until every concern is satisfied, no matter how it’s asked. If any salesperson gets their back to the wall from objections, then they need to get their ego in check and get their priorities straight as a salesperson.
 
Listen, listen, and listen! Always be on high receive. Salespeople focus on their customer and give individual attention. The customer is king and this will surely make them feel this way!
 
Your customer usually knows something about your competition but is obviously also in interested in doing business with you. It is your best practice to tell your customer that they are a good company, but you would like to explain your points of difference from them. Never say anything negative about them. Customers want to be convinced of why they should buy from you. Also, never repeat your competition’s name back.
 
Know what you are selling. Look at what you are selling. You have lost your customer’s confidence if you are questioned and it becomes obvious that you have not done either or both of these things. 
 
Use your business cards to their full potential and always have a sharp sales driven statement when you present your card. “Here is my card, when you decide to give my motor a try, then call me and I will take care of you.
 
Always return every call and email with urgency. If you cannot be bothered or you are too busy, then this is the exact statement you are giving your customer.
 
Give to get! When you spend time with a customer possibly offering advice or showing your product, you need to ask for a commitment in the process without pressuring the customer. This is an unwritten law of sales and the customer expects this of you. If you do not then you will have given away your upper hand. 
 
Never give away your power as a salesperson and always stay in control of the entire sale. This is easily accomplished by asking relevant questions and keeping your customer engaged. If the conversation gets off track, ask a relevant question and keep the ball rolling to getting a commitment.
 
If you do not care about the answer, don’t ask the question. Irrelevant conversations that you may consider as flattering or friendly, may be perceived as transparent, phony and a waste of your customer’s time. Customers are impressed with intelligent and relevant questions that are to the point.
 
Make it a habit to give a little extra. This does not have to be money or product. It can be service, a follow up call, making their order a rush delivery, a thank you note hand written on the invoice or even a sincere appreciation to the customer for their business. Think out of the box. This will come naturally if you truly appreciate and care.
 
Repeat the customer’s name back to them, many times throughout the conversation where appropriate. We all love to hear our own name and doing this also shows that you are paying attention.
 
When it comes to closing a sale, I have three great statements to share with you:
 
“Why not give it a try?” This is a play on words because your customer really isn’t trying anything. They will be buying the product no differently than if you said “Why don’t you buy this?” Trying sounds temporary and it’s easier for them to make that commitment
 
“Will you look at the product and decide for yourself?” You use this statement, when the customer doesn’t seem like they will make a decision. When you ask this, you get the customer to agree to decide (not to buy). Of course they are going to decide for themselves. You have broken the ice with them in deciding and done it with a positive response. You next ask them to buy and if you have met your customer’s needs their decision is now more likely to be in your favour.
 
“Have I covered everything?” This question is most often asked by the most confident, most customer concerned and most professional of salespeople. It’s the perfect close that emphasizes I want you to be fully satisfied and confident with your decision to buy from me.
 
When all questions have been asked and answered and your customer’s needs are fulfilled, always ask them for their commitment to buy. It is said that a shot on goal is never a bad play. What are your chances of selling if you don’t ask?
 
I have just presented a lot of ideas and tools for you and your sales team to present yourself in the best possible way to sell with greater success, but nothing works 100 percent of the time for everyone. It’s all about what works best most often. Now you just have to do it!
 
Steven Cox is the General Manager of Allwest Auto Parts in Edmonton, Alta. The company can be reached at 780-465-4730 or on the web at allwestparts.com.

 

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