The Green Sheet Online Edition
May 14, 2007 • Issue 07:05:01
Steer clear of sales pitfalls
Regardless of your skill or experience, you are going to make mistakes. It's inevitable. However, you can avoid some common mistakes of sales professionals. Being proactive will increase your effectiveness and lead to more satisfied merchants in your portfolio.
First, prospect for new customers at all times. Even if you're hitting peak sales cycles, you should be prospecting.
Retailers will be more receptive to you when you exude confidence and success. Being consistent with prospecting also helps counterbalance natural downturns. Have you ever lost a sale simply because you failed to follow up on a lead? Since timing is everything, pursue leads diligently, especially those that have expressed interest in what you're selling.
Just because prospects are not ready to buy from you today doesn't mean they won't do so in the future. Determine mutually agreeable times when potential clients are more apt to need your products or services.
Then set up calendar reminders. And, without fail, contact prospects on schedule. They'll appreciate your timeliness. This will also demonstrate your attention to detail, which can be a deciding factor in gaining business.
Keep an open mind
Never rush to judgment based on incomplete or inaccurate information. Someone who may appear to be a bad prospect initially may prove to be just the opposite. If you probe a little bit, you may discover a successful, no-frills merchant with a bright future.
You owe it to yourself and your prospective clients to gather the facts, or you will miss out on sales opportunities. Research prospects before you meet in person. Find out about their businesses, primary customers and projections for sales growth or number of store locations.
Go into meetings with as much knowledge as possible about the businesses you are courting. This will set you apart from the competition and increase the probability of your closing the sale.
Whether making a sales presentation in a showroom, a manager's office or by phone, it's important to know beforehand what you're going to say and have answers ready for the questions your prospects will most likely ask.
The last thing you want is to make connections without being prepared. Stay on topic.
Refrain from too much small talk or discussing less important features in excessive detail. Tackle the core information. If you're professional in your delivery, your presentation will speak for itself.
Then listen. Don't do all the talking. Ask questions to find out exactly what merchants need, so you can determine which of your products or services will provide the best match. If you listen properly, you'll be able to identify needs and act quickly to fulfill them.
Communicate and educate
Don't oversell. A good salesperson knows when to stop. Give prospects ample time to think about what you present, so they can respond intelligently and make suitable decisions.
Since selling involves building relationships, you'll need to establish a level of mutual understanding with potential clients.
Just as you must know details about their businesses before you can sell effectively, they also need to understand your business and what you have to offer. It's a two-way street.
Educate retailers both during and after the initial sales pitch. And leave behind a professional-looking package that contains sales literature, a proposal and your business card.
If your first contact is a phone call, tell merchants you will send a package by mail and that you will call again shortly to answer questions. Then follow up as promised.
Always ask for the sale
Not every call will end with a sale. However, you can increase your odds significantly by asking for the sale every time you make a presentation. Successful sales professionals always have the close in mind.
Once prospects have what they need to make informed decisions, ask them if they are ready to sign up for your products and services. The simple act of asking for the sale may be all that is required.
If merchants have more questions, you can answer them promptly. It's quite possible that the final nudge may become your favorite sales ally, so don't neglect to use it.
J. David Siembieda has been the President and Chief Executive Officer of CrossCheck Inc., a national check approval and guarantee provider, for over five years. He has more than 15 years of experience in the check services field. He serves on the board of directors for the Electronic Transactions Association and the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts. He is the Chairman of the ETA's Membership Committee and is also a member of NACHA's Electronic Check Council. CrossCheck has been at the forefront of check authorization services and technology since its inception in 1983. For more information on marketing check services and CrossCheck, please call 800-654-2365 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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