Sales Success Is Not As Tough As You Think
by Tom Egelhoff
Nothing happens until someone sells something. I think we can all agree on that. The problem is that too many qualified buyers are walking out of your store without buying something. Notice I said "qualified buyers" not "audio geeks" or time wasters. What would your business look like if you could sell just 5% of the people who walk out without buying? If 50 customers per week walk, that's 200 a month. Five percent of 200 customers are ten. If your average sale is $250.00, you are out $2,500.00 each and every month.
So the question becomes what can we do to reverse this trend? Well there are two possible cures we can explore. The most obvious is for each salesperson to improve their closing ratio. The second is to identify and bring in buyers instead of lookers. Lets explore the second group first. Ask yourself this question.
My Best Customer Is?
Does it make sense that's its easier to find your target market if you know what they look like? In simple terms you want people who are ready to buy and are ready to listen to your offers and consider your products. All of your marketing and advertising efforts should speak directly to this group. Wouldn't it be easier and make more sense to attract buyers than waste money attracting lookers? Give away something free and you will have a handful of serious buyers and a ton of freeloaders. Talk about trying to separate the wheat from the chaff. So what methods do customers find most useful to contact you? In a survey by the Penton Research Service people were asked how they found information about products they wanted to buy. The results were:
- Toll-Free Telephone Number 48%
- Web Site Address 40%
- Reader Service Cards 32%
- Fax Numbers 30%
- Offers of Free Catalogs 25%
- Coupons 11%
Nearly half of those surveyed like the toll-free number. Why? It's easy and immediate. When they get that impulse the phone is right there. It is more right there than it ever has been in the history of the world. Their phone is literally in their pocket or lying in the car seat beside them.
Ok so what is the incentive for them to call you? The age-old question comes to mind. "What's in it for me?" What if the customer called to get your free report on "13 Things You Should Know Before You Purchase A Car Alarm?" What exactly will that do for them?
It will do two things. One, it will educate them about car alarms and become a tool to covert them from a looker to a buyer. Second, it makes you the authority when it comes to car alarms. The report should invite them into your shop so they can see a firsthand demonstration on how each of the "13 things" is important.
They are now and educated buyer, a qualified buyer, and an easy close. Even if they shop somewhere else you have set the standard for all other shops to live up to. Your free report should make that very tough on your competition. And in most cases they will come back.
What does the report do for you? Well if they ask you to send it out by mail you know who they are and you can follow up with them during slow times of the day. If they come in to get the report you at least have the opportunity to demo in person and make the sale then and there. It makes a great selling tool and helps keep your salesperson focused. The stronger the demo the easier the sale should be.
How To Learn From Rejection
Here are a few rejection rates for popular types of sales
- Sales cold calls to homes 50-95% say no
- Sales cold calls to businesses 40-90% say no
- Pre-arranged sales calls to individuals 35-80% say no
- Pre-arranged sales calls to businesses 25-75% say no
- Cold telemarketing calls 90-99.5% say no
- Direct Mail 90-99.5% say no
- Printed direct response ads 95-99.99% say no
- Web pages 95-99.999% say no
As you can see salespeople get to hear "NO" a lot. But there are valuable lessons to be learned here that can help cut these percentages too. Imagine how many times you say "no" to products in grocery stores. After walking past and rejecting literally thousands of items you walk out with one or two carts full. No is natural unless there is a perceived benefit to us. No benefit? - Then rejection is the natural course of events. So let's look at part two from the first paragraph.
Improving Closing Ratios
The art of selling is a never-ending study in psychology. How you and your salespeople react to "no" - or handle failure- has a great bearing on how successful you will be in sales. It's very common terminology to "practice medicine" or "practice law." I can't think of a single profession that requires more practice than sales. It's a constant learning and evolving process.
The psychology begins by recognizing that you have a sales "team" not individual salespeople. What makes the difference is that you have a built in support network and these people can build on each other. Sales meetings should be something that the salespeople look forward to - not dread. Learn as a group how to overcome common objections. Learn important benefits of the various products. Sessions should be positive and motivational. Find what they are doing right rather than pointing fingers at what's being done wrong.
A few simple things can turn your sales numbers around and make a mediocre year a great year.
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Based in Bozeman, MT, Tom Egelhoff is the author of How To Market, Advertise & Promote Your Business Or Service In A Small Town, and The Small Town Advertising Handbook: How To Say More And Spend Less. He is also a seminar and workshop presenter and trainer. He may be reached at 888-550-6100 or PO Box 271, Bozeman, MT 59771-0271
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