by Dr Greg Chapman
Are you someone who could sell ice to Eskimos? Not everyone is a natural salesperson, but in business, nothing happens until a sale is made. So what do you do if you hate selling, or you can’t find staff to sell for you?
You can create a marketing strategy that does not rely on strong sales skills. Imagine someone just comes into your business and when you ask: “How can I help you?”, they say: “I want to buy that and here is my money.”Does that sound too good to be true? Well it happens all the time. Look what happens when you go into McDonalds. The person just says: “May I take your order please?” They don’t spend time explaining why their burgers are superior to everyone else’s or that their prices are the best. They don’t have to, because this is all done by the marketing that the buyer is exposed to prior to entering the store- and when they enter, they will buy.
McDonald’s has chosen this approach because they are using low skill labour and they don’t want to go to the expense of teaching their low wage, part-time and casual staff how to sell.
If you create a marketing strategy that sells your buyers before they contact you, you don’t have to be a super-salesperson to make a sale from an enquiry. The marketing does all the hard work for you and all you have to do is to take the order.
To do this, however, you must have a marketing system. A good marketing system will attract enquiries so you don’t have to cold call, and pre-qualifies buyers so that the tyre-kickers and time wasters are filtered out.
Then a sales pipeline is used through which you move your buyer, step-by-step. Each step is a test where the buyer must make a new commitment to you before they move to the next. At the penultimate step they have decided that they want your product and it is value for money. Then all you have to do is ask them: “May I take your order please.”
This requires a lot more planning than you will see from salespeople in a used car lot, where arm wrestling seems to be the most important skill. We are no longer talking about hunting the buyer – instead we nurture them.
There are few really natural sales people that you can hire. (The very best start their own business.) Yes, your employees should have sales training, but boost it with a well defined sales pipeline so even people who hate selling can sell for you. This also removes the dependence on a star salesperson who could leave your business at any time (and probably will).
So even if you have staff that could sell ice to Eskimos, don’t you think their skills would produce more sales if you also used a sales pipeline, and sold Eskimos something they really want, like central heating, and then you can sell them an icemaker for their drinks so they don’t have to go outside.
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Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and is Australia's Lea ding Advisor on Emerging Businesses and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems. He is also the author of The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success and Price: How You Can Charge More Without Losing Sales.
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