Free Article – Top 10 Tips to Win More Business
Learn the secrets of sales success
Key learning outcomes:
- Develop a strategy to ensure you make the most of every sales opportunity.
- Differentiate your product offerings from those of the competition.
- Recognise the benefit of focusing on a niche market in order to win more business.
- Learn the value of detailed preparation for sales meetings.
The ability to sell yourself and your business is essential for success in any industry. It does not matter if you are a one-man band or if you have a team of salespeople working for you; the key strategies are the same. You need to make every potential sales opportunity work for you and strive to maximise your chances of success. In this article we share some of the strategies and tips we use when coaching high-performance salespeople. Use them and also share them with your team to ensure you are making the most of every opportunity.
Know your points of difference
If you do not know why someone should do business with you, how can you expect your customers to know? It is essential that you are clear on why someone should do business with you. These days it is becoming harder to differentiate from the competition and be unique. Generally your points of difference will come from being better or cheaper. Therefore, if you do not want to be the cheapest, then you will need to be the best. We know that people make buying decisions based on the benefits a product or service offers, rather than features. Therefore, you need to focus on showing how you are better than your competition and then demonstrate the benefits to your client. Our article “Benefit selling” will help you to define your points of difference.
Know what your competition is using against you
We do not advocate spending a lot of time worrying about the competition; however, only a fool would not take some time to learn what they are up against. A worthwhile exercise is to think about the strategies you would use against yourself and your business if you were the competition. This might seem a little odd, but contemplating this will not only make you sharper, it will also help you to come up with the right counter-punches before you present to the customer. The exercise also encourages you to think about any potential areas of weakness that may be used against you and find ways to neutralise them.
Ask better questions
In many sales situations, people sell and tell rather than ask. They come out of the sales presentation feeling that things went really well only to realise that they did not find out what the customer really wanted or what was important to them. It is important to ask open-ended questions and listen carefully to the answers. Use our article “Active listening” to improve your skills in this area.
Be an expert at something
One of the tricks to winning more business is to be an expert on one thing rather than to try and be a jack of all trades. Let’s take a landscaper as an example. Rather than offering a service that suggests they can take on any job, it is better to specialise and become an expert at a particular type of landscaping, say urban or native gardens. By building on an area of expertise, you gain credibility through your knowledge and experience, and this in turn helps you to win more business.
It may seem crazy that this makes the list, but remember that simply being nice can give you an edge over your competition. Too often when trying to win business, people can let their day-to-day troubles impact on their mood and manner. Imagine that two tradespeople come to your home to quote for a job; one is nice and the other is surly and rushed. The chances of winning the business are higher for the nice person even before they quote for the job or discuss their experience or skills. People prefer to do business with people that they like and you are infinitely more likeable when you are nice!
In this age of high technology, customers expect you to have instant answers. They do not want to hear that you will go away and do some research; they will expect that you have already done that. Spend some time prior to your meeting finding as much information as you can about the person you are selling to and the circumstances surrounding the potential sale. A quick Google search may give you some background information on the person and their business. You may also find a LinkedIn profile, business website or Facebook page, which can be valuable sources of information. Ensure you take to the appointment anything that you think will help you to get the deal across the line. It is far better to have your laptop or some information with you even if you did not need it, rather than feel like you have been caught short. The other great benefit is that when you are well prepared, you gain confidence and this in turn helps you to win more business.
Turn up on time
Turning up on time is one of those things that is simple to do and simple not to do. Being on time shows that you are organised and professional, and it demonstrates a level of courtesy to the person you are selling to. If you need to travel to an appointment, you should always do your research. These days, maps are readily available on your phone, so there is really no excuse for being late. Work out ahead of time where to go, what bus to take or where to park. If you are unsure, there is no harm in asking the person you are visiting for the best way to get there or clues about where to park. If you arrive too early you can always sit in your car or in a coffee shop until shortly before your appointment time.
We are often asked when is the right time to follow up or how often should you follow up after a sales presentation. There is no right or wrong answer as it is all about tailoring the timing to each customer. If you know that someone is not going to make a decision for say three months due to a particular circumstance, it is not appropriate to follow them up the next day or even the next week. You would be far better to agree on the timing with the customer and then set a reminder in your calendar. The most important thing with a follow-up is to do what you said you were going to do. By following up, you not only show that you are professional, but also that you are keen for the business. Most industries are highly competitive, and if you adopt a wait-and-see approach, you are not going to win as much business as you could.
Be prepared to negotiate
Offering your product or service at a lower price than your competition is a legitimate way to differentiate. However, it is important to understand that if you are offering the same product or service at a lower cost, you are also likely to be sacrificing your profit margin. Therefore, this strategy needs to be carefully thought out, and is best used for rapid market share gain when market conditions have changed or to boost revenue over a short period.
That said, 100 per cent of nothing is nothing; always look at the bigger picture before saying “no” to negotiation. For example, a painter quotes for a job and the customer agrees to go ahead if the quoted price is reduced by 10 per cent. Before saying “no”, you should consider the following points:
- How busy are you? If it is a quiet period, the job will provide an income even if the profit margin is reduced.
- Is the property in the target market area? A customer in a target market is always worth more than one outside, and therefore you can be more flexible with pricing.
- Is the customer able to give you more business in the future? Does the customer own other property or are they able to influence others to use your services in the future?
If you conclude, based on the above factors, that the job is a desirable one, then it is probably worthwhile giving the discount in order to win the business. Always think about the bigger picture before saying “no” to business, and always use negotiation as a way to gain commitment from the customer by using dialogue such as, “If I agree to the 10 per cent discount, are you happy to sign off on the paperwork today?”
Ask for the business!
One of the best things you can do to win more business is to simply ask for it. Never leave a sales presentation without using a trial close. You might say something like this: “Based on everything we have discussed, do you feel comfortable moving forward?” The answer will be either “yes”, “no”, “maybe” or “I am not sure”. This allows you to either firm up the commitment or uncover any objection they may have. We have a great article on handling objections on our website that will help you to fine tune your skills in this area.
Regardless of what business you are in or job you do, improving your sales skills will help you perform to a higher level. Use this article in conjunction with the others in our “Sales and customer service” section of the website to ensure that you are making the most of every opportunity that comes your way.Did you enjoy this complimentary article?
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