How many times has this happened to you?
You have a product you love, and a bit like that bloke from the razor adverts who liked it so much he decided to buy the company – you decide to sell the product. You use it all the time, you absolutely love it, it’s helped your business grow, made your life easier, people ask about it, you show it to them and THEY love it as well!
But, nobody is buying it from you.
This is a problem a friend and business colleague brought to me recently about a particular piece of marketing software, but I won’t mention it because what I’m going to talk about relates to everything and anything you’re selling in your business whether that is your time, your products or someone else’s products.
I was asked to help her by telling her how I sold it. But here’s the thing, I don’t. I don’t SELL anything. In a nut shell I move people through a process and to the next step, closer to where they actually hand over money. The key word there is process.
And this is so simple. Far simpler that some of the sales gurus would like you to believe.
I don’t handle any objections – but I do answer questions honestly. So that’s probably a whole chapter of the sales manual out of the window.
I don’t ‘close’ a deal – but I do see if the person needs and is ready for the product and if so when they want to get started.
But what is critical, what you simply must have, is a NEXT STEP. If there isn’t a next step for you to move your prospective client on to, then no-one has a damn clue about what is going to happen next and how.
Here’s a typical scenario where this might work.
Imagine you’re at a networking meeting you get asked what you do and you get chatting. You’re also asking them what they do and lo and behold, they could really use your service. BUT – they are asking questions and making interested noises, just because you can see your service can help them doesn’t mean they are ready to move onto the next step. They want to know more and you know they are ready because they are asking questions.
You now have a choice:
a) You can prattle on about the wonderful things you could do for them, which is not only eating into their networking time, but at this stage you probably don’t have enough information about what they do, how they do it and their budget. Plus, as you are in all likelihood in a noisy networking meeting this may not be the place to get it.
b) You ask them if they would like to get together for a quick coffee next week to see if your product is a good fit. No pressure, not to see if they will buy, but to see if it could help them..
If they say yes, you are now reasonably certain they are interested in what you offer.
However, it is important that you make it clear why you are suggesting the coffee. It’s to see if ‘so and so product’ may be good for them. It’s not a general chit chat. There is a very clear objective and everyone knows where they stand. If they are not in a position to buy then this is their opportunity to back out and the chance for both of you to save time and energy. If you’d just like to have a chatty coffee then that’s fine, but then the objective of the meeting is simply to have a laugh, share ideas or whatever. For the process to work there must be no doubt, for either of you, what the next meeting is about.
If they say yes, you have now moved them through your process to get them onto the next rung of your sales ladder. The next steps are just as simple.
1. Prepare for your meeting by having a look their websites and social media profiles so you can get a feel for the type of business person they are and what they may need.
2. Set an intention that you will only ‘sell’ anything that is totally right for the customer and that you will lose the sale rather than give a customer something they don’t need or can’t use. I will even refer someone to a ‘competitor’ if I think they will get a better deal.
When you do this, even if you don’t tell anyone, people seem to know – it oozes out of your pores and generates trust. Plus, it takes the pressure out of the meeting for everyone.
3. During the meeting find out what your prospect does, what’s missing and what their big problem is and of course if they have a budget.
4. IF you have a solution for them, explain how it can work and here’s the next critical step – just show them how they can get started. For example, you may gather some details from them, take a BACS payment and the service starts in 1 week.
What you’ve done is built the ‘how they buy’ into the ‘how it works’ and it’s sat there plump and juicy for them to say ‘ok, let’s do it.’
That’s it! Well almost. At this stage, I find most people will then confirm if that works for them, but if they don’t, and I know the service is a good fit for them, I will ask them outright if they want to get started.
What you don’t do, ever, is offer them free trial or a discount at this stage. People who want a free trial are either fannying around and you don’t want them as your customer, or they aren’t convinced it’s right for them – and you don’t want them as your customer. Well not yet anyway.
Most people are happy knowing they aren’t tied into some horrible contract and that if they really don’t like it, that they can have a money back in 14 days for example. So offer that but get the commitment of the payment first. These are the people you will have great businesses relationships with moving forwards.
You can always offer them a free trial another time, but after they have said no.
The crucial point is that even if the service will work, but I don’t think it’s the best way for them to spend their money right now, or any other reason why I don’t think they should get it, then I will tell them. And if you’ve been on a sales course where ‘takeaway selling’ has been on the agenda (it’s a technique where you pretend the thing you’re selling isn’t available for the prospect which means of course they are desperate to get their sticky paws on it) this is not what I’m talking about. It’s about being honest and operating with integrity because it builds trust, and when people trust you, they will buy you and your product.
So to round this all up, all you’re doing is moving people through a series of steps where at the end of each one, and by agreeing to move onto the next one, they are simply moving themselves by a series of small decisions right to the end where they buy from you.