India is slowly becoming a hub for startups; we see new and very innovative products every day. But most startups are facing problems in selling those products. Yes, you might have a revolutionary idea, and the product supports the same, but if you don’t know how to sell that, your startup will fail. And this is not valid for just startup. All organisation or individual must master the selling techniques. Because its sales bring revenue for an organisation and support the company’s expenses, let us understand what selling means and how do you develop a strategy and everything you need to do to master the art of selling.
What is Selling? & Why is Sales Important?
Selling is an exchange. Its an exchange between you and your customer, where you get the price or money, and the customer gets the value from you. The value that you offer could be a product, consultancy, services etc. And we should always remember that the value should always be greater than the money you charge, then only the customer will buy your product or service. In selling, there are always two people winning, one is you, and another is the customer. It’s not a win-lose game, and this is where most of the people go wrong.
Sales is where the organisation makes its money from; no matter how good your product or services are, if there is no one to step up and think about selling the product, the organisation will not make revenue and will not sustain. When the revenue generated is higher than the expanse, the organisation is considered to be profitable. To be profitable, organisation when don’t pay attention to selling there the downfall of the organisation starts. It does not happen when management changes when the product is bad. It always depends on the sales figure.
And the best part is if someone thinks that they are not good at selling. Let me tell you; you are using those techniques right from childhood. Think about the time you convinced your parents to buy you your first mobile phone; think about how you convinced your mother to make your favourite dish for dinner. Humans have always been a salesperson their whole life; it’s just that we haven’t noticed that. The corporate world is no different; the only thing added is that money came into the picture; still, you need to convince your clients to trust your product and give it a try, and they won’t regret that.
Why Selling Have Negative Association with It?
“99% Business owner hates meeting sales person, yet they hire VP of sales for their business”
According to a Global News Report, A car salesperson is a least respected job after a politician. A business owner or common people like us have a negative association with selling because either you have experienced or you might have heard from your close ones that salespeople are very pushy; they disappear after selling. There is always a TRUST issue with a salesperson.
You might think or have experienced that selling is about confusing and manipulating people, or you might have bought because you were confused and end up buying a product that you have no need. You have been told that you must be careful and stay away from a salesperson who talks really well because they might screw you over. But think again.
Real selling is all about giving value; you need to be a problem solver. A real salesperson is a good analyst who identifies the problem go deep inside it to find the right solution, and start solving it step by step. Once the client sees his problems being reduced because of your value proposition, you slowly start gaining that client’s trust. It would help if you thought about it as caring for customers.
Another problem is, selling is not taught in schools and colleges. And if anything is not taught, you feel you are not good at it, and can’t be master of it. You would be excellent in communication and persuasion, but it was coding that you learned in school and colleges, and you think that that is the only skill I have and will help me generate revenue. Thin deeply, if you can sell your idea to friends and family better than others, then you will definitely be able to sell the organisations idea to customers better than other players out there.
Now moving forward let us understand how to approach the market if you want to sell something. Kind of strategy to apply when you approach the market with your product.
The Go-To-Market Strategy
With growing competition in the market, every organisation is gunning to beat and be the best industry. And to be best, the organisation should have a solid strategy for selling their product and that also shows the result. There is no point in peddling a cycle until you move forward. It is much discussed, so let’s understand a go-to-market strategy and why an organisation needs one such strategy.
In simple words, a go-to-market strategy is defined as planning where you pitch your product or services to the right customer at very right the moment when they have the urgent need of such solution you are offering. These are the organisations’ tactical actions and steps to succeed in the market and beat their competition.
Although this sounds simple but very hard to implement, if you haven’t strategised enough, your competition will steal your customer who reached there at a much better time and with better offering because they might have strategised well and considered every aspect while preparing their strategy and how to hit the market. The go-to-market strategy is dynamic in nature and not static means it is not made once and is constant for all the products and organisation. Rather, it keeps evolving, should be evaluated and updated at regular intervals.
Some people confuse the go-to-market with the business strategy or business planning; both sound similar but are completely different. A business plan is the broader aspect where everything an organisation does or has to do is considered, every department, even no. Of employee required is considered. But a go-to-market strategy focuses on analysing and positioning the product in the market in front of the customer.
I have written a detailed article specifically on Go-to-market strategy and how one can create an effective strategy that you can see and read by clicking the link below.
Now you need to understand the customer after you have created the strategy and how do you create the customer journey in the Sales funnel.
Types Of Customer and Customer Journey in Sales Funnel
Before jumping on to the types, we must understand who are we selling to, who all are the potential customer. First, we need to understand that not all the customers are same, you need to identify the right set of prospects and hit them on priority. If you hit the right customer at the right time, the rate of converting that customer is bery high. So lets undertsand the types of customer and which type is more Important.
- Cold Customer/ Audience – These are the audience at the beginning of your sales funnel. They are the once who could be your future buyers, but as of now, they don’t know, and they don’t care about you your product and services. These are the customers who do not respond to your outbound calls and emails and have a very cold stance on your product and services. We also need to understand that this will be the largest group of audience and in the majority. And not all will like your product, and we need to build faith in this kind of audience. If we go out and start pitching and selling to this group of people, they will not even listen to you. To build faith in you and your product here first.
- Warm Customer/ Audience – These are the people who are now responding to you. They might have come from the cold set of audience. They were direct inbound who came to know about your offerings and now are interested in listening more to your offerings. These people now know of your existence; they interact and engage with your brand and product but are still unsure whether to go ahead with your current product. These are the people you will pitch and put your efforts, remember you never pitch to a cold audience.
- Hot Customer/ Audience – These are a qualified customer that is now nurtured and ready to make the purchase or transaction. These are now directly seeking a particular service for fulfilling a need that you have already identified, and you are engaging for the fulfilment of the same. These are the audience that has to be now managed for closing the final transaction. This is where you must focus more. Because we know the selling process is not finished unless we have cash-in. And from this set of audience who now trust you and your product, you will generate revenue.
Now we know about who are customers and what stages they are at for a regular sales flow. We need to have an active funnel and pipeline. We need to understand how to set a customer journey from cold to warm to hot and close to make them our client. I have written a detailed article on a sales funnel and how to use a sales funnel to create a strong pipeline.
Lets now understand how to move a customer from Cold to warm to hot. Now the biggest mistake that we do is to go out there and pitch a product to the customers and sell them the most premium product at the first meeting itself. Assume you are a car wash company. Will you be selling your premium 12 moths membership to any customer at the first meeting itself? No, you will go with the most valued and affordable wash. Give them the flavour of how good your car wash company is; your motive initially should be that the customer comes again and avail of my services. The first service could be free as well.
Then if the customer comes back, we must continue offering them a slightly higher or different kinds of washes. Let him see that your all the services are of top notch and here the objective is to make them your regular customer. He chooses you over all the other car washes out there. This gives you an unfair advantage, as now you are having a proper funnel on how do you make the regular customer to the most paying customer.
Once the customer becomes your regular visitor and avails of your wash services, you come up with a product that ensures the customer will return again and again with the 12 months car wash membership. That would be a great deal for the customer, as he knows that he has to come here regularly, so why not buy a membership at a discounted rate. And here, you focus on Increasing the CLV customer lifetime value towards your brand.
Who should you avoid selling?
So you shall not sell to anyone out there; if someone is paying you the money does not mean you will give the services to you, as in the long run, it’s your brand value and name that matters. You get the business through word of mouth from your loyal one. But if you start selling to anyone, they will have unrealistic expectation from you. And if you are unable to fulfil their unrealistic promises, they try to defame you or give a bad word of mouth, which ultimately is a risk in the long run, So some points to whom you should not sell to.
- You should not be selling to customer who dont have faith in you and your product.
- You should not sell to customers who dont value you.
- You should not sell to customer who dont value your product or services.
- You should not sell to the customers who have unrealistic expectations.
Handling Objections in Sales
A sales objection is a counter-argument from your lead or potential client either seeking clarity on the benefits and credibility of the product or any possible issue which is holding himself to take the decision in your favour now. It could be due to pricing or the lack of time, or the client is unsure of the decision himself.
Objection handling is nothing but catering to the concerns raised by the prospect in order to move the sales process to the next level. The concerns could be of different types, product clarity, pricing, competitors, avoiding the closure. A salesperson needs to handle such objections so that it is resolved effectively and is a win-win situation for both parties.
Having objections from the prospect is a good thing to have; remember school days, having doubt in a particular topic was a sign that we paid attention in class. Similarly having objections primarily tells you that the buyer is actually interested in your product or services. Or else why would he seek more clarity and listened to your pitch so clearly. Also, it helps you to understand the prospect and his needs. Objections drive the flow of conversation, and once all the concerns of prospects, we are good to go and close the deal.
There are different kinds of objection we face, Some of the most common objection handling examples are:-
‘I don’t have money.’
‘Your competitor is offering better pricing.’
‘I’ll get back to you.’
‘I don’t have time.’
‘I have to talk to my ….’
‘I don’t know’ ( Trust )
‘Mail me everything.’
Every objection is unique, and thus every objection haling is also customised. But the flow to resolve any concern have a particular flow. Here is the step by step script on how you handle any objection
STEP 1. Patiently listen to the Objection
Don’t jump in and start to respond to the objection before the prospect is finished expressing his concern. Listening is one critical skill. Actively listen to what the prospect says and try to understand what’s in his mind.
STEP 2. REPEAT WHAT YOU COMPREHEND
Never shy to ask and check with the prospect whether what you comprehend the concern correctly. It’s better to ask rather than resolving the problem the prospect did not have.
STEP 3. VALIDATE AND ASK PROBING QUESTIONS
So instead of directly resolving the doubt, ask the question on his concern and problem. What he did, what step he took earlier to fix this. He won’t be waiting for you to come and resolve is concerns. ASK
STEP 4. ADD VALUE
Make sure you answer in such a way that you add value to the conversation keeping in mind the objection. You are providing a solution to his problem. And Value should always be greater than the price you are charging.
STEP 5. ENSURE YOU HETHE PRODUCT AND USP CLEARLY
The salesperson should completely know his product and the USP in every aspect. The right USP Should be given at every moment.
STEP 5. ASK WHETHER PROSPECT ARE SATISFIED OR HAVE A FOLLOW UP QUESTIONS
STEP 6. END WITH CALL TO ACTION
Once the Objection handling session is done, always end with follow up and a call to action. And the selling cycle ends once you have solved all the objections and closed the deal.
If you need guidance and requires a one on one counselling ping me on linkedIn.