You may not realise it but we have all been in sales ever since we were born and it's not hard to see how.
When you were a young kid, your instinct was to persist and ask for what you wanted, e.g. 'Mummy I want a lolly' or 'can I have that toy?' As you grew up the demands changed but the principles remained. When you start your teenage years you start to ask if you could go out with friends, go see a movie etc. Then when you're able to drive, it's 'may I please borrow the car?'
Can you see the consistency in our lives?
The truth is that we are all salespeople. We have all wanted something from someone else over the course of our lives, and the process of negotiating the outcome is that portion of sales experience that we all develop over time (even if you hate sales).
So let's get to the point: What makes a good salesperson?
1. Seeking Information
Every sale encounters numerous parties with various needs and wants. If we critically observe a sale at random, we can see that the salesperson has to provide information, and more importantly, they have to obtain the information from the customer. For example, if I wanted to sell you a pen (like all hypothetical salespeople do) I would focus on figuring out exactly what your customer's demands are, and then I would look to extract how to proceed with the sale - essentially, listening to the needs and wants from the customer becomes the crucial part of the sale.
Master of sales, Jordan Belfort (or commonly known as the Wolf of Wall Street), agrees that listening to the customer is one of the most important parts of the sale. Figuring out exactly what the customer demands through the seeking of information is very important for all salespeople.
2. Testing, Understanding and Summarising
I guarantee that you've been fooled in a sale when the salesperson has said some of the following:
- "Would you be prepared to go higher?"
- "Have you seen these other options for only a tiny bit more?"
- "Let me just run this over with you"
- "So your order included ___ "
After seeking information, it comes down to how the salesperson can understand the customer through the use of testing, understanding and summarising methods. When customers here comments that are aligned to what they are after, they immediately feel more comforted by knowing that the salesperson can relate to them on a personal basis.
On the other side of the coin, saying 'how can I help you?' may just ruin your entire sale if it's that undesirable customer, so it is important how you sell your sales message aside from the product itself.
3. Behaviour Labelling
Now that you have the information and you understand the customers demands, you have to analyse their behaviours both verbally and non-verbally.
This may include non-verbal communication such as crossed arms, facial expression, slanted body and many more. These are all triggers for salespeople to alter their delivery to suit what the customer is after.
When it comes to verbal communication, I like to look at these key clues:
- Relaxed or tense
- Positive or negative tone
The last thing a salesperson wants is an unhappy customer as then the sale and post-sale process is destroyed. Monitoring and controlling behaviour and acting on it quickly and professionally can make or break the entire sale.
4. Feelings Commentary
Finally comes feelings commentary. This is the sympathetic response that you often hear through; 'oh that's terrible' or 'I'm very sorry to hear that'.
It is important to maintain control of the sale throughout the entire pre-sale, sale, and post-sale processes because your customer wants the reassurance that you care for them. It is vital that you make the customer feel comforted as much as possible even if you just want to execute as many sales as possible, because as the customer, that is never what you want to see.
I have three simple rules for feelings commentary between the salesperson and the customer:
- Actually care by showing sympathy or empathy if possible
- Maintain your own professionalism
- Don't decrease control by acting overly compassionate
Salespeople often receive a bad wrap because they're 'annoying' or 'pushy', and I agree.
In my view the best salespeople are the ones who don't go looking for the sale, rather, go looking for the relationship of making the customer feel like number one even if you can only get them to number two.
I encourage you to see everything you ask for differently next time it happens. The 'can I have this?' will have a new aspect after reading this and I hope it has assisted you in seeing that unnoticed sale process that we have all been in throughout our entire lives.