Business accelerators: Perfect your sales pitch, part 2

April 23, 2018

This is the second post in our “Perfect your sales pitch” series. You can read the first installment here.

If your team isn’t confident and motivated to sell your products, your storefront will struggle with reaching its full potential. Unfortunately, many people are uncomfortable with the sales process and have an aversion to selling. Luckily, training and practice can overcome this obstacle and help your team close more sales. Here are a few pointers on how to perfect your team’s sales pitch:

Provide first-hand experience with your products.

Part of what sets small businesses apart from big-box stores or buying products online is personalized attention and expertise. Every member of the staff should know what you offer in your store, the answers to common questions, and have had personal experience with products. It’s one thing to tell a customer what the specials are—it’s another to say they personally tried it and liked it. They should also know the ingredients (or know how to look it up) to make sure they can respond to specific requests or allergy issues.

Encourage expertise in your industry.

Whatever role your staff plays they should be passionate about it. Stylists, for example, should not only have a firm grasp on what is currently popular, they should know what types of styles look best on different body and face types. When customers visit stores in person they are often hoping to get customized feedback and answers to questions they can’t find on the internet.

Define a good customer experience.

You want your store to have consistent customer service and for customers to know they can count on you to provide a professional experience. Teach every member of your staff to see to all the details that make your store stand out. Do you offer a free beverage to customers while they are waiting? Do you remember them by name and offer personalized recommendations? Do you give a free 5-minute shoulder massage with every manicure? These are the details that customers remember and expect the next time they are in your store.

Sell benefits, not features.

Elmer Wheeler coined the phrase, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak” back in the 1920’s and it’s still relevant today. Too often, salespeople rattle off features of products, which commoditizes the product. Instead they should appeal to the senses and emotions of customers. They should sell the benefits of using it.

Meet customers where they are.

There’s a subtle art to persuasion, and part of it rests on whether the customer feels understood. Staff should know what kinds of questions to ask, and actively listen to the responses. Before they make personalized recommendations, they should repeat what they think they heard and ask for confirmation that they understood the request correctly. Sometimes customers are not ready to jump into a purchase, or don’t agree with the recommendations. At that point the salesperson should recalibrate their recommendations based on the feedback they’re hearing.

Only present relevant solutions.

Most people are wary of salespeople, because they don’t want the confrontation of having to say no. Staff can lower this aversion to the sales process by being friendly and helpful, but any trust they build up through rapport can evaporate if they start presenting random products or services and trying to sell them. Teach your staff to tailor their responses to what the customer is saying and to only present relevant solutions.

Speak the customer’s (body) language.

Teach employees to make eye contact with every customer, to be approachable, and friendly. Being approachable includes smiling and greeting customers, but it also includes not looking at their phones while on duty and not plugging their ears with headphones. One step beyond that is to read the customer’s body language. If the staff is presenting a product or service and the customer’s face closes up, or they drop eye contact or take a step away, it’s a sign they are not interested. If this happens, staff should check in with the customer and ask a non-threatening question like, “Is this what you had in mind, or were you looking for something else?”

Sales is an art, not a science, and it pays to practice sales scenarios with your staff. If you find you have a sales superstar, consider setting up a mentoring relationship with other staff members to train them on subtle techniques that will help close the deal.

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