“Everyone is a salesperson. Everyone is selling something every day. People buy from people they like and who are like them.” – Bill Bonnstetter
Isn’t the above statement so true? Think about your daily interactions with others. Whether it’s a product, service, theme or an idea – we are trying to sell something each time, all the time to someone.Apart from making an external sale to your prospect or client, you could be selling to your boss, a team member, a colleague,acquaintance or a family member. Ultimately the closure, that is, the success measure of any sale will depend on what kind of relationship you have with the buyer or whether you have spent enough time and effort in building relationship before the solution was suggested. Research has proved that when it comes to selling, not only what is being sold is of importance, equally important is who is selling it and therefore, it boils down to relationships.
One might argue on the timing of sale, which is important, but relationships the foundation in growing any business. To reach this level of doing business through relationships,you should build ability and thinking to keep the customer at the epicenter of all your actions. While you diagnose your strengths, weaknesses, behaviors, skills and market credibility on one hand, on the other hand you also have to recognize how others act, and adapt in accord. While diagnosing, identify the factors of their motivation and drive. Focus on what will help them make decisions in your favor in case they have available choices. Once you get in touch with a potential buyer, practice these 4 Cs -Care, Communicate, Control and Close.
Care – Consider every customer as your first customer. The secret is – can you maintain the same level of enthusiasm with every customer in every meeting? It has been observed that after servicing a few customers for a few times, the tendency is to take the customers for granted and get a little lackadaisical in our approach. This can prove to be a deterrent in the process of building relationship and can impede you from reaching the final goal.On the contrary, knowing about them and also knowing what matters to them can help break the ice to form an interpersonal connect. The more one can personalize the discussions with the customer genuinely, the better are the chances of showcasing the “Care” factor.In an insurance company I worked with, the sales advisors were trained to be vigilant and use their observations to build rapport with the customers. For e.g., if the customer had a well maintained garden in the house, the sales personnel were encouraged to speak and mention that during the conversation to show that they cared for their passion and use it as an element to build rapport.
Communicate – this is the most important element in building relationships and thus, succeeding with customers. One should communicate with customers keeping the end in mind. One of the successful Chairman of a successful organization in his address to budding leaders’ advised them to spend 80% of their time listening to the customers while they are communicating with them. Remaining 20% of the time, according to him, has to be spent in asking relevant questions. While listening, it is imperative to listen to the different components of communication- body language, tone of voice and words. Focusing on these and their interpretation can give insights on others’ behavior and eventually shape our responses to manage their behavior. This might work as an enabler for you to adapt to the behavior of others. Fine-tuning your communication style to match the customers can prove to be a differentiator between success and failure.
Control: In the early part of the conversation with customers, you have to take the role of a listener. In the latter part, practice of ‘Care’ and ‘Communication’ allows you to take ‘Control’ of the situation. Keep your ongoing communication relevant and focused.Share your success stories by speaking about how your earlier customers benefited from your provided solution. In case you feel that the customer is still reluctant, ask open-ended questions and draw them to share what they haven’t yet. Acknowledge their issues and concerns and exhibit the fact that you’re thinking on their behalf.In reality, controlling the situation in this manner for the customer’s benefit puts them in a comfortable situation because the created environment impacts them psychologically in a positive way. This also allows you to set and manage expectations realistically and thus, gives you an option of saying “no”, when appropriate. In fact, if you think you cannot suggest a right solution in your capacity, refer them to someone else who can.Be sure that you will not lose. We hear of many instances where people pick up things that they cannot deliver in the zest of creating a ‘WOW’ feeling in the customer’s mind and fail miserably. This is uncalled for.Do you really want to be in such situations? In contrast, customers will appreciate your honesty if you don’t fail them through your failure.
Close: how often do you see a customer asking to close a sale? If you ask a successful sales person on timing of the closure, you will get this as an answer “whenever the customer is ready”. This means that there is no good time to close a sale. The best way to decide on closure is to watch for buying signals when you are with your customers. These can be verbal or non-verbal and therefore, practicing the above three points will prove to be powerful aid in closing a sale. Talk about the benefits and value delivered by your proposed solution. Most of the times logic is not persuasive, emotions are. Try to reach closure without manipulating your buyer’s emotions. If you have suggested a solution to which a customer has agreed, don’t try to oversell. Execute the decided solution.Convert a prospect into a customer by nurturing the relationship for life.
Even if the customer rejects your product or services, remember not to take it personally. Remain confident throughout the process. The customer has not rejected you. By being attentive to their preferences, you’ve already earned a trustworthy relationship.
Above 4C’s can become your brand building elements and practicing them can put you in a very different league of sales people. All your existing clients can become potential source for future customers.
By nurturing these relationships, you’ll be astonished at the no. of referrals you’ll generate. Help your customers succeed and see the magic of building credible relationships.