Selling to the Customer's Gap
I had a chance to be at a talk last week given by Michael Charest of Business Growth Solutions. I found it quite useful and interesting - focused mostly on selling services, but also applicable to other situations.
Here was the most important idea I built from his presentation: Customers buy not because what you have is great, but because of how much better that is than their current situation. This is deeper than it might first sound.
Let's say that you're trying to sell someone a new cell phone. What you're REALLY selling against is the customer's reluctance to buy anything at all - that's the #1 competition. You might assume that since the customer walked into your shop that they're already dissatisfied with their current solution, and to a certain extent that's true. But if they're really that ready to buy, then they're really just deciding WHAT to buy. Most people actually get stuck at the first step, the initial decision of WHETHER to buy, whether to even look at options. If you can help people get over that initial hurdle, you'll have lots more customers, not just the ones who are already convinced they want to buy something.
If you help the customer to frame this comparison, then you also have the best chance to position your product or service as the best solution. You can help the customer to focus on certain features, and develop a more trusting relationship than he might have with other sellers.
Here's the hard part: If you're just advertising, it's not that easy to convince someone that their current situation is worth changing. We've become so good at filtering out ads, of all kinds, that people aren't even paying attention 99% of the time. This is where relation- and reputation-based conversations really have value: When you're actually talking with someone, it's much easier to find their deeper needs and sources of dissatisfaction. Then, when you help paint your vision of the customer with your solution in hand, you'll have someone who's paying attention.
Small Fish Business Coaching Fort Collins
How Nervous Are You? - Risk in Business
Risk is a part of business: If it were easy and assured, then there would be a million people doing what you're doing, and nobody could make a living at it. And indeed there's lots of areas of startup businesses where few are able to make any sufficient income.
So risk is part of the game. And in fact, part of the reason people give you money is because they see value in you making their lives less risky. And more convenient, more pleasant.
As a business owner, that risk ends up in your lap. You can try to pass some on to your employees, but ultimately you're at the end of the chain.
But dealing with risk is a learnable skill. You can become more confident at making decisions in an environment of risk, and tune up your information-analysis and intuition in order to make decisions more quickly.
But risk means that you'll make mistakes. That's OK: It's not about eliminating risk entirely, it's just about doing better than average and doing better than the competition.
Act, learn, grow, then act better next time. It's how fast you LEARN that matters.
Small Fish Business Coach Fort Collins
Having A System for Sales
I’ve been talking with some sales experts recently from companies such as Red Cap and Sandler. These guys are really, really good at what they do and worth checking out.
But one of the questions people ask me is whether you really can systematize sales very much. After all, aren’t great salespeople born, not made? Isn’t it all about talent and chemistry? What I’ve found is that a huge number of things can indeed be reinforced as systems and processes. It helps to make the newbies much better much faster, and it helps the experts to be more efficient and teach others.
The challenge that many business owners have is that they can find a few natural sales people – perhaps themselves included – but it’s darned hard to build that up. Great salespeople are hard to find, and because they’re good, can be darned expensive. So a critical task is to take their natural instincts and replicate that to more junior people, who might just become the superstars of tomorrow.
Another challenge comes from having multiple salespeople in the first place. It’s important to present a consistent face to customers and prospects, and if you’re relying too much on peoples’ instincts, that’s going to create inconsistencies. This can really tick off your customers. Plus, customers will tend to develop a greater loyalty to the person than to your company, which means they might just follow the salesman if he walks.
So put those systems in place. Make your sales process repeatable, reliable, and efficient. Replicate the best practices to your entire sales force. And create a consistency which will help your customers build loyalty to your company.
Small Fish Business Coach Fort Collins