Businesses live and die by their sales numbers. That’s why top sales people usually rank among the best paid employees at any given company, often out-earning physicians, lawyers and engineers.
The Sales Department is what senior managers call a profit center; it brings money into the organization, thereby funding the company’s growth. Virtually every other department represents a cost center. Their contribution may be vital to the success of the organization, but it costs money to have them onboard—and that money comes from sales. Hence the business maxim, “Nothing happens until something gets sold.”
No one knows this better than small business owners, who cherish every sale because they grasp the significance of every dollar earned. To help boost your bottom line, here are five great strategies to strengthen your sales efforts:
1. Put your sales presentation to paper (or tablet.)
Forget what you’ve heard about “winging it.” Sales is a profession; with that in mind, your presentation shouldn’t be something created on-the-fly, or served up as an afterthought. If you’re new to selling a certain product or service—or if you’ve been doing it for a while but are stuck in a sales slump—write out your entire presentation.
Start by considering the six major selling points of your product or service. Include questions that will draw out your customer’s needs and reactions to each selling point. By writing it out, you’ll be better able to anticipate what objections the prospect might have, as well as how to position your offering as the solution to their problem.
2. Put your prospect’s objections to paper (or tablet.)
Taking notes during a meeting adds to your image as a serious business ally and potential partner. When you write down your prospect’s objections, you’re showing that you are listening and plugged-in to their concerns.
Once you’ve listed all their concerns, you can walk through them one by one, highlighting how the prospect will benefit from your product or service. Maybe, for example, they’ll be saving money by going with you. Or they’ll increase efficiency, improve employee morale, or boost brand awareness by adopting your service.
3. Add an incentive for newcomers.
As any sales manager will tell you, it’s not about what deals you can close next week or next month—it’s closing today’s deal that matters most. The easiest thing for a prospect to do is put off making a decision, even when it’s in their own best interest to buy today. To clear this hurdle, offer a first-time buyer’s incentive. That is, something significant—such as a discount, or freebie—which is only available to newcomers if they order today.
4. Eliminate risk from the prospect’s equation.
Many small business owners (and purchasing managers at larger organizations) are reluctant to buy because they’ve been burned in the past. Every single one of them has a story about “that awful sales rep” who left them holding the bag when a product or service failed to live up to expectations.
Sure, some of them exaggerate, but many have legitimate grievances. In order to remove this concern, offer a 100% guarantee of satisfaction. A no-hassle return policy neutralizes customer objections and underscores your belief in your product or service. Your company’s guarantee should be unconditional and free of hidden clauses, such as time restrictions.
5. Limit options to get the close.
Unlike at the beginning of your presentation—when you would typically ask open-ended questions to zero-in on the prospect’s pain points—you should avoid concluding your presentation with a broad question, such as “What do you think?” or “How does this sound?”
Instead, give the prospect an either/or choice, such as “Would you like that installed on Tuesday, or would Thursday work better for you?” When they state their preference, go ahead and write up the order because, at that point, they’re extremely unlikely to stop you. Psychologically, most people realize they’ve made a commitment as soon as they state a preference.
Sales are the lifeblood of any business; if you implement these five strategies, you’ll significantly improve your sales presentations and strengthen your business’ bottom line.