Does this approach work? Sometimes. Is it worth the effort? Sometimes. Do you need to know your products inside and out? Always. During busy holidays this traditional approach tends to wear thin; customers seem unable to retain interest in your pitch, your uniqueness (and volume) begins to fade . . . what’s wrong?
When I found myself in this position many years ago, my sales coach Lillian asked me: “Do you think it’s possible they just don’t want a cookie?” To my dumb-founded expression she explained that within the myriad of high pressure sales styles during the frenetic holidays, buyers are simply “full”, like after Thanksgiving dinner. Now here you come with a plate piled high with delicious, secret recipe cookies to give away but no one is buying. The harder you push the cookies, the more resistant buyers are. More cookies would just add to the pain! No takers.
In other words, does your approach appear to the buyer as just another hurried spiel? You need to sell cookies and they’re not hungry? Retail buyers are always full. During the holiday sales onslaught, focusing on a single vendor becomes nearly impossible. What can you do to stand out from the crowd?
- Make contact the right way. The “right way” is for that individual. Remember whether they prefer e-mail, phone calls, voice mail, text or a drop-in. Don’t vary the standard right now, comfort is key.
- Contact because you care. You do need to talk, but don’t jump right into the pitch. These folks have enough pressure flying at them without enduring another full frontal hype. Find out how things are going for them, sincerely. Most buyers will be astonished that you even ask!
- Ask and then LISTEN. When you’ve both had time to take a breath and get oriented, offer a gentle reminder of what your products are, (if needed) then ask. Ask what you and your company can do to make the buyer’s work easier. Then clam up and really actively LISTEN, without interrupting, prompting only when necessary for more detail. Chances are you will hear what your competition is doing wrong!
- Find your uniqueness, what can you do BETTER. Reiterate what you heard in the buyer’s response. Highlight to them what unique services or conveniences they need that you can provide, and customize to make their work easier and more cost effective. Leave them with the lasting impression that you are a problem solver!
- Make it happen! REALLY Make it happen! Follow up with all phases to ensure that the special service you identified actually happens. Then follow-up with the customer to make sure your service exceeded their expectations. Nothing kills future orders like defaulting on a promise to make things easier.
Special services that helps your customer succeed will always be remembered. The list of customized service is not endless, but some simply logical steps are often overlooked. Next week we’ll look at some of those strategies.
K.B. Elliott is a Detroit area contributing writer for Nexxt. Having worked seats on both sides of the sales table for 30 years gives him a unique perspective to the sales process and the varieties of successes to be had.
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