Knowing how to sell is a vital ingredient for marketing success. In simple terms, effective sales and negotiation techniques blend talking to the right people — and listening hard to find out what they want to buy. Once you've got both those elements, you can close the deal to mutual benefit.
A successful sales process starts by looking at the customer and what they want, rather than just what you're trying to sell. This lets you tailor the way you present your product or service to match each customer's individual requirements.
This kind of "solution selling" is a far more powerful selling technique than simply delivering a general-purpose sales pitch. Your sales message can highlight exactly how your product suits your customer, emphasising the points where you have a competitive advantage. At the same time, the more you know about the customer's position and what your product is worth to them, the more likely you can prove its value to them.
The first hurdle is getting through to the right person. Sales training courses often includes sales tips to help you get past gatekeepers such as secretaries and to create interest. Taking the trouble to research the customer should put you in a strong position to come up with an opening that explains why it's worth taking time to talk to you.
Knowing what the customer wants also means that you will be in a strong position to explain the benefits of what you can offer. Every product feature can be translated into a competitive advantage — and a benefit for the customer.
Good sales skills include anticipating and dealing with any reasons the customer may choose not to buy, known in sales terms as 'objections'. Last but by no means least, your selling techniques should include the ability to see when the customer is ready to buy, and the right selling technique for closing sales.
Selling techniques often focus exclusively on winning sales. But knowing how to negotiate the right terms is important too.
Like the earlier parts of selling, negotiation should start with understanding the customer. What makes them tick? What would make them enthusiastic about buying? What's the problem that they're trying to solve through buying from you? And how much value do they attach to that? The good news is that most customers are far more interested in talking about themselves than in hearing about you and your product - so use that human trait to your advantage.
But you should also be clear about your own position. What would be an acceptable compromise for you to close the sale? How important strategically would the sale be? And what would make it a bad deal for you and therefore be the point of no return?
If your customer believes that you're working with their interests at heart as well as your own, they're more likely to be more honest about what they view as their alternatives. And this in turn allows you to do the same — making for a more positive environment to do good business.
Successful negotiation results in a coming together between buyer and seller — ideally both you and your customer should have a sense of achievement as you shake hands on the deal.