If you've come up with a new product or service to generate more revenue, one of the first and most important steps should be ensuring that your sales staff is prepared.
Whether you have a couple of salespeople handling all your accounts or call centers staffed with hundreds of employees, some effective preparation and training is the key to success.
Your team must be equipped with the right tools to effectively communicate value and convert more prospects into paying customers.
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1. Supply the Knowledge
Before providing the tools you need to be sure your people are supplied with important facts concerning what it is they're selling, and who they're selling it to. Share your marketing homework with the sales team. Draw up a profile of the people who will use the product as a template of the buyer persona you're after, including demographics, interests, and purchase habits. This will help them focus on the right prospects.
Educate them on the product or offer. What value does it bring to customers? Technical specs, features, shipping, warranties and guarantees, options, and many other elements surrounding the offer may be crucial to answering customer questions or doubts, and thus making sales. While educating your audience be sure to fill them in on the competition. What rival offers or products are out there? How do they compare in price and features? Why should the customers choose yours over all the others? Being able to answer these questions will help your salespeople find selling points in your favor.
2. Know What's Needed, and When
Selling can be an involved process that requires encouraging the prospect to move from one stage to the next before closing the deal. For instance, an ad may drive prospects to your website, leading them to request more information or product demos. When the buyer is satisfied, you can move on to full presentations and begin the negotiating process. If your sales team knows what's involved, from website content to acceptable contract terms, and have the appropriate tools ready to go, they can manage the process more effectively.
3. Visual Sales Aids
Consider what types of visuals will best engage your audience. The average attention span of an adult is less than five minutes, so it's important to both engage with a prospect on multiple levels and provide them with tangible information that can draw them in. Some of the tools many professionals leverage at various stages include:
- Sales Sheets: Sales sheets are brief (no more than a page or two) outlines of your product and the offer. This provides your initial pitch and describes product benefits in an easily distributable format such as flyers or PDF files that can be distributed to many people to generate interest.
- Digital Presentations: Sales presentations are more in-depth, informative tools further describing your company and product, building credibility and trust. These might be PowerPoint slides, videos, documentation, or any combination that has the main objective of engaging customers. Bear in mind that 63 percent of people recall stories, but only five percent remember numbers.
- Demos: Sales demos help close the deal by letting the sales team demonstrate the product in action. This could be a prototype or actual production unit, a detailed software model, or relating a complete customer experience from start to finish.
4. Free Trials
Marketing Experiments recently conducted a study analyzing the effectiveness of free trials. At the end of their study, they found that offering a free trial can save a company an average of $24.28 per acquisition. This could be a downloaded, CD-based, mobile, or sales-installed technology product with limited features or a set expiration date.
If a company is selling a software or physical product, rather than a service, they should consider giving the customer a chance to explore the product for themselves. Then check back with them periodically to answer questions, respond to objections, or provide further information regarding its usage.
5. Customer Testimonials
You should provide brief customer testimonials from prior happy customers on your website and other sales materials as a way to instill confidence regarding your offer. But in the final stages of selling, come up with more compelling testimonials about how your product solved specific problems or improved conditions. According to Get the Referral, only 11 percent of salespeople ask their customers for referrals. Line up some past buyers who are willing to be contacted so that you can use them as references.
6. Negotiations Training
Whether it's sales staff, or regional or account managers, whoever has the authority to conduct negotiations and close deals should undergo negotiations training. Business negotiating is about more than haggling over price. It's an open discussion where everything is on the table, yet should be viewed as obtaining a win-win resolution in order to leave customers satisfied and open to future purchasing. As they say at the Shapiro Negotiations Institute, it's about creating the idea in the customer's mind of a "mutually beneficial and profitable long-term relationship".
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When the process is ended and the customer has purchased (or walked away), it's important to take stock of all the tools that were employed. This way you can gauge the relative merits of the various techniques employed and refine your sales tools going forward. Seek feedback from customers and prospects to determine what most influenced them or went awry. Review the process with sales teams to uncover new ideas or suggest new tools. A win-loss analysis should be conducted at intervals to determine the real value of your sales efforts.
As products come and go and technologies change, the most important tools you can provide your salespeople are not brochures or mobile apps, but practical knowledge, market comprehension, and essential skills that make selling anything so much more effective.