You have an amazing idea for a product. Engineering it is no problem, but selling it is. Cold calls, for example, make your palms sweaty. You’re not alone; selling can be daunting.
Here are a few rules that will get you to ‘sold’ in no time.
Build a relationship
“Soft selling is far more effective than hard selling,” says Casey Smith, marketing strategist and business development consultant in Nashville, Tennessee. “This comes by being genuine and building a relationship with your prospective client.”
Beverly Solomon, creative director of musee-solomon, an Austin, Texas-based company that promotes the artistic works of Pablo Solomon, also believes in the importance of relationship building.
“I try to learn as much about the person as possible,” she says. “The more personalized you can make the sale, the better it will go.”
“Listen more than you talk and ask good questions,” suggests Gary Stockert, chief operating officer for Fuzed Marketing, a marketing firm based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “Companies will make the mistake of assuming the prospective client already has a base of knowledge about what they are presenting.
“If they don’t get a concept, it makes them feel uncomfortable. Listen to what they need and ask good questions. After asking a question, record the information and then ask another question. Don’t dive into your pitch. Instead, go back to your office and create a strategic plan for them. Then meet again to discuss.”
"Don’t hide from budget or money questions,” Stockert says. “Just ask for the budget. Make them feel comfortable. Explain that the more information they share, the better job you can do for them.”
“When I started out in sales, I always felt like I had to make a sale no matter what,” Solomon says. “But as I’ve matured in my career, I’ve realized that wasn’t always good. Those customers would usually end up be disgruntled because they weren’t good matches for the product.
“Now, if a client isn’t interested, I thank him or her and I leave. It isn’t wise to waste their time or yours.”
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Set reasonable expectations
“Make sure the expectations are mutually beneficial and make sure the prospect understands them; this will ensure the relationships does not get off on the wrong foot,” Stockert says. “Be honest about what you can deliver.”
“Make an appointment when it is convenient for your client,” Solomon says. “Everyone’s time is valuable. Feel thankful that they will see you at all.”
Deliver on promises
“Do what you say you are going to do,” Stockert says. “Pad your promises to give yourself extra time to make sure you don’t blow it.”
“What happens after the sale is as important as the sale,” says Solomon. “Always send thank yous; always follow-up. I try to send unique thank yous to my customers. Instead of just a note, I will take one of Pablo’s discarded sketches, have him sign it, and then write a thank you on the back. Our clients love it.
“Remember that it is much easier to write re-orders for established customers than cold call new ones.”