We all have experienced walking into a shop and before our two feet are completely through the door we are asked, “what can I help you with” to which unless we are in a hurry and need something very specific it normally has the response, I’m just looking.
Or if you may have experienced first-hand the salesperson pushing you to decide there and then on a purchase. Using sales tactics such as, we have several people wanting to buy, the price is discounted for today only, it’s the last one. There is that many sales tactics that I could use this entire blog just listing them. But no matter what the salesperson states nobody likes to be sold to, its in our DNA even when the sales close is not so direct we are all hard wired to start thinking, wait for it, the hard sale is just around the corner and normally that’s exactly what happens.
Back in the early 1900s and 18th century people didn’t go into a shop to look or browse it wasn’t until 1908 when Selfridges opened in London that the concept of walking around a store simply to look took hold in the UK. Prior to Selfridges groceries, clothing, hardware was all bought by the shop assistant going to the back of the store and getting the customer what they wanted.
So why would I state such a thing as stop selling, well because as I have just wrote we all don’t like being sold to.
Go on a journey with your customer and explore what their needs are. If I go back to the shop example, if the salesperson said, “welcome to Ladies Fashion” its great to see you, can I show you our new collection, its getting a lot of attention especially with the prices / quality / colour range or can I show you the latest offers? It’s an icebreaker and gets both parties talking. By asking questions about is the outfit for a specific use, helps guide the salesperson to better lead and direct the prospect to the right area of the shop.
Another reason to stop selling is down to integrity and playing both the short and long-term sales game. Over the last 15 years the sale of bicycles for road racing has grown exponentially in the UK and Ireland with Mintel reporting that the UK market was worth £750 million in new sales and a further £100 million in cycle repairs. I’m no expert on bikes and can hardly remember the last time I was on one but what I do know is that if a prospect comes into a bike shop seeking to buy an £11k bike who has never raced before the benefits and features the bike offers would be lost on the person. They would probably get as much out of a £500 bike until they had the level of fitness and speed up to somewhere that could justify the expenditure of £11k. Imagine they take the £11k bike on their first ride with the cycle club they have just joined, will other riders think the person has been made a fool of, or that they are foolish to make such a large investment when they have not ridden in races and have no level of cycling fitness? If you were one of those seasoned riders would it inspire you to buy from that bike shop?
Rather if the bike shop assistant sold the customer a £500 bike and really looked after them, followed up regular with emails on bike rides, maintenance, fitness, industry bike news how likely is that customer to buy sundry products such as clothing from the bike shop, or what about another bike at say £2k? I would say very likely but all too often we go into selling looking to make a customer and not a client.
Being a trusted advisor
In sales we all have sales matrix’s to achieve, and its very tempting to promote your product or service over that of your competitor, but what is the true cost of doing this? If you have been listening to your customer and you know that the features your customer needs are not on your product but are on your competitor, if you have no way of adding them to your offering my advice is I would recommend the competitors product that does offer the features. Some may say I’m mad, why would I allow a competitor to have an opportunity? Consider the mind of the person buying or the owner of the company if its small enough. You used your knowledge of the customer and selling skills to force them to make a purchase even though you knew it was not the best option for the customer. How do you think the customer will think of you, your product / service and your company if they discover after making the purchase that it does not meet their needs?
Changing that around how would the buyer and company owner consider you if you acting in their best interest? Would they be willing to give you business in the future, more business or a referral to another company they know? Competitors will always be around, they will always be trying to get a foothold into your clients but experienced and confident salespeople know that they can point the customer to a rival with the confidence that the customer will come back to them because of the product, quality, service, support, price and ease of doing business.