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Overcoming obstacles to selling successfully

“Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman, not the attitude of the prospect.” — William Clement Stone

SME’s Chat with Phillip Chichoni

Last week I explained why selling skills are very important if you seriously want to grow your businesses. I also discussed the main reasons why people might not be buying from you.

This week I am explaining some practical ways of overcoming those causes of why you might be failing to sell very well. How lovely it would be to be continuously hearing the sounds of the till chinking, or seeing invoice books filling very fast!

Like I said last week, selling skills can only be perfected by lots of practice, so don’t expect miracles if you don’t put in the effort. Once you start doing it right, you will be surprised when people turn into your best customers and you see that business is actually very exciting.

Create value for your product
One entrepreneur, who is a motivational speaker, made an interesting point about value. When he started his career he was charging US$100 for a speaking session. One day a new client asked for the price and was told that it was US$100. The new client said: “Are you serious? If your price is so low, are you any good?”

From that day on he raised his price five-fold. For a couple of months most of his old clients stopped coming. Then surprisingly he started getting bigger corporate clients. This resulted in him working less hours but making much more money.

To create value, you first need to clarify to potential customers what you are really selling. Most products and services are a means to an end. Customers need to be clear what they are getting when they buy from you. What problem does your product solve for them? Why should they buy from you and not from someone else?

Once you are clear on what you are offering, you need to up the value of your product. Value is a perception. You can increase the perceived value of your offering in these ways:
Higher prices always cause people to think it is higher quality. Being slightly more expensive than your competitors will attract customers who want high quality, the kinds of customers who will make you more profitable.

Testimonies from happy customers are a sure-fire way to increase your perceived value. When people know others are getting value, they will fear missing out.

Identify people who actually want your product
Car sales people are familiar with “tyre kickers”; those people who come to a showroom, feel the leather seats, ask to start the engine and start feeling if the tyres have enough pressure. Then they promise to come back, but they never do.

The truth is not everyone wants your product; even some who need it, may not want or afford it at that time. You need to screen out customers. Finding ways of qualifying customers so as to get only those who want, are willing and able to buy the product will greatly increase your productivity and results. A few years ago, when I was just starting in business planning consultancy, I would get dozens of calls daily, the majority of them asking about my price and wanting heavy discounts. Sometimes I would give appointments, only to find that the person only wants a free sample or template.

I then decided to direct people to my website, where they would need to complete a questionnaire and email it.

The person who will spend half an hour answering 30 questions, shows that he is committed and really wants a business plan. Tyre kickers no longer waste my time, which I am now using more productively to attract my ideal clients.

I was once invited to an arts and culture seminar sponsored by some NGO. Some groups brought their CDs, carvings and sculptures. At the end of the seminar they were all complaining that no-one had bought their stuff. One gentleman said, “What did you expect? Free events attract people who are not willing to pay for anything. After the free lunch some probably were hoping to get free give-aways.”

Reverse the risk to the customer
Any business transaction involves risk. Somebody who buys from you is taking a risk. What if the product doesn’t work? What if I don’t get the results I want from the product or service? These are questions customers ask themselves before buying from you.

When Pick ‘n Pay entered the highly competitive retail business, it offered customers a money back guarantee. A customer who was not satisfied with a product, simply returns it and gets her money back. That is one way of reversing the risk from the customer.

For a full discussion on this topic, please download the eBook “Why Customers are not buying from you” at http://smebusinesslink.com. Until next week, best wishes in accelerating your growth.

l Phillip Chichoni is a business development consultant who works with SMEs and entrepreneurs. You may contact him by email, chichonip@smebusinesslink.com. You can also visit http://smebusinesslink.com.

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