Buying and selling has been the cornerstone of business since the earliest civilizations. Virtually every product manufactured or service provided in the world goes through a sales professional. According to Dave Kahle, former president of DaCo Corp., a sales training/consulting company and author of How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime, says many entrepreneurs lack the ability to effectively close a sales transaction–and most importantly, develop a long-term relationship with the customer.
This is especially true in the initial stages of a company when resources and manpower are severely limited. “When the business begins to grow, you hope to be able to hire people who have that, but up until you actually have a sales force, the entrepreneur will always be the best salesperson and will always have a responsibility to sell,” says Kahle. “It’s always easier to find someone who can manage the business than it is to find someone who can grow the business.”
Kahle says any salesperson must first organize a structured approach to selling. “There’s that cliché, build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door–that’s one of the worst myths around and I suspect that myth has caused the demise of thousands of businesses,” says Kahle “The fact is if you have a better mousetrap you have to be able to identify people who are candidates for it, be able to create some credibility with them and hope you can do it all in an economically viable way so you can make money selling mousetraps.” With that in mind, Kahle offers the following advice for closing the deal:
Determine who needs or wants what you offer. Kahle says the salesperson must first identify his or her target audience and develop ways to engage and interact with them. “You ask yourself these questions and you narrow down your target audience,” he suggests. “The narrower we can get the definition of the right people, the more successful you will be.”
Make them comfortable with you. They have to be comfortable with you as a human being and they need to have a sense that you’re credible and competent. If they don’t think you are, they’re not going to want to go any further with you.
Find out what they want. “Sales is not a matter of convincing people to buy what you have, it’s a matter of finding what they want and show them how what you have gives them what they want,” asserts Kahle.
Gain agreement with them. This could be a purchase agreement or in a more complex sales situation, the next step in an evaluation or buying process. Kayle recommends offering multiple ways and times to buy your product and set up a system to measure the results of any offer you make. “Study those numbers and make modifications as necessary,” he says.
Don’t forget the follow-up. You want to create not just a customer but a relationship where they come back repeatedly. This could include discounts or perks for return customers. “The returning customer is where you make your money,” Kahle says. He suggests asking the customer how they liked your product via printed or online surveys. “Ultimately you want to give them a reason to come back repeatedly.”