How To Turn Prospects Into Customers For No Cost
If you have more business than you will ever be able to handle, then don't read this article.
By Rob Goodridge
I have never met an owner who said that he has all the business he can stand, except when he was trying to blow off a salesman. I also know that in tough economic times, we are all looking for inexpensive ways to increase sales. We want more profit and we’d like it for free. Here are several ways to accomplish that goal. You may already be using some of these techniques. If so, you know that they work. Here are five ways to increase sales without spending any more of your hard earned cash.
1. Greet Prospects Differently
When prospects walk into businesses, the most common greeting spoken by salespeople is, "May I help you?" What the prospect actually HEARS is "Blah, blah, blah..." We are so conditioned to this "standard" greeting that it has no impact on us at all. In fact, we even have a standard response, "No thanks, I'm just looking." How do we break the cycle? Say something that speaks to them personally; something that indicates you really notice them.
"Hey, cool shirt. Did you get that in New Orleans?"
"You're really loaded down. Can I help you carry something?"
"It's freezing out there today. Come on in and warm up."
"You look like you need a sign. Know what? Your in the right place."
Any way you can start a conversation is a perfect greeting. Speak to them as if you were old friends, with that winning smile of yours. The key to establishing a selling relationship is to create a positive caring image, and "May I help you?" doesn't cut it. You may be offering your help, but what they here is, "Tell me what you want so I can get back to what I was doing."
2. Show Your Enthusiasm
When you decided to go into the sign business, and your friends asked, "Why?" your eyes would light up and you would go on and on. Some of those folks may have said, "Enough already!" Those reasons are still there, lurking in the back of your mind, although you may not think of them as frequently. You know why you came into this industry, and when it comes right down to it, you're still glad that you did. Sure, there are problems. In life there are problems. But when the day is done, you can feel good about what you do and how well you do it.
When speaking with a prospective customer, don't worry about delivery problems, or deadlines, concentrate on what makes this job fun. Think about all the cool stuff that's your able to create... about the tools you've acquired to do your job better... about the skills you've mastered to create perfect products... Your prospect will hear the enthusiasm in your voice. They'll be able to tell about your commitment to service, without ever having to say a word about it. A mediocre sales person with a great attitude will outperform a good salesperson with a bad attitude, every time.
3. Shut Up and Listen
In every sales situation there is a time to talk and a time to listen. The most important of the two is the time we listen. It's not really our fault that we don't listen all that well. We were never taught how to listen. We learn to read, to write, to speak, but for some reason, our school systems don't think that listening is a skill to be taught. There's another reason we have a hard time listening well, our brains. They work faster than our mouths. Remember when you were a kid and the teacher would be talking about grammar or equations or the periodic table of elements? How your mind suddenly took you outside of the classroom to something you saw on television or something that a friend said or what your were planning for the weekend? Well it wasn't entirely your fault.
You see our brains can process information many times faster than speech. So while we're listening to someone, our brain starts looking for more input. If you've ever watched an interview with a professional athlete, you've probably heard, "I have to maintain my focus." What they are really saying is, "I need to concentrate on the game and not my new car or my new girlfriend."
The same thing happens when we listen to our prospects. In order to make sure we hear what they are saying we have to maintain a higher level of focus. Look at them. Listen to them. Concentrate on what they are saying.
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4. Use Responsive Listening
Responsive listening is a technique where you listen to what a person says, then restate it back to them in a way that shows empathy or understanding. Here's a bad example...
"Man, my back is killing me."
"What did you say?"
Now, a better one...
"Man, my back is killing me."
"Is there something I can do to help?"
or how about this...
"Man, my back is killing me."
"Sorry to hear that. Would you like for us to install this for you? We will do it right, you can save your back and you can focus on more important things."
By listening to the customer, the salesman heard an opportunity for an up sell. All top producing sales people will tell you that the best way to get to a close is with information that a prospect gives you. Often times, the information is included in other general conversation. That's why responsive listening is so important.
Responsive listening can also greatly reduce misunderstandings.
"I want a banner 3 feet high and 4 feet wide with letters 4 inches wide and 3 inches high to cover an old sign that's 4 feet high and 3 feet wide."
A confused customer is a sure fire way to end up with a problem. By repeating back what you heard, they'll know you were paying attention to them.
"Are you sure that you want a 3 foot high banner to cover a sign that's 4 feet high?"
5. Ask open ended questions
The person that wants the banner to cover the sign has just given you a key piece of information that can take this sale beyond the banner they asked for. Now it's up to you to start digging. A permanent sign would be a nice up sell from a temporary banner.
To learn more, ask open-ended questions: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. Open-ended questions require prospects to give more information.
"What kind of a sign are you covering?"
Chances are good that your prospect is not aware of all the products and services you carry. How can you learn what other products they might want or need? Ask them questions. Then listen carefully. They'll tell you what they want to accomplish and if you pay close attention, they'll tell you about a need you can fill. It costs you nothing to listen.
"Where is it located?"
"Why are you covering it?"
One Final thought.
In today's competitive environment, we may not know why we win one account and lose another. What we do know is that most people like doing business with people they know. They rely on them to deliver products and services with exceptional value. They will come back again and again. Try to approach each customer like Will Rogers. He said, "I never met a man I didn't like."