‘Sell what they need’ and Customer Sales Principles

Updated on 4 September 2014

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At a recent National Small Business Council Sales Indaba, business guru, Gavin Sharples asked the delegates: “Who of you are salesmen?” Only about a quarter put up their hands. “If you run a small business, you have to be a salesman. Your product or service won’t sell unless you sell it.”

Now it’s ‘easy’ for Gavin to be a salesman. He’s an extreme extrovert. He’s funny, engaging and he really knows his stuff. He doesn’t just know his stuff. He actually lives it. When he explains a customer sales principle, he demonstrates it – on the audience. And it works. And he exudes passion for what he does.

“Can you stand up in front of the company management and sell your product or service?”

Address your customer sales needs

I’m not like that. Are you? Can you stand up in front of the company management and sell your product or service? Can you do it persuasively, with confidence? Why not? Is confidence the problem? Do you really know what you have to offer? And more importantly, do you know what your prospective customer needs? Do you understand your customer that well that you know what you have to offer will address their needs?

Once you know what will turn them on, can you present that in a ‘Twitter pitch’ (in 140 characters or less)? Gavin doesn’t stand up and ad lib. He is so practiced that it looks like it comes naturally. He has been practicing his routine for about 20 years. So he can adapt when someone throws him a curved ball.

Close the sale

Then there’s Sam. You know Sam. He’s so confident, he can “sell ice to an eskimo”. Get Sam a drink and you won’t stop him talking: he can talk the hind leg off a donkey. Want it or not, he will sell it to you.

But heaven help you if he’s selling you something that you do want. When he’s told you about all the amazing features that you “just have to have” and you have to figure out the benefits for yourself, and you have decided to buy, he doesn’t stop. “Shut up and close the customer sale!” you want to yell. But he just keeps talking.

Samson killed a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. Every day, Sam kills a thousand customer sales with the same instrument.

“Sell what they need, not what you’ve got”

Here are four key sales principles:

1. Successful sales people do the least talking and the most listening. Ask the correct questions and present your solutions with passion.

2. Understand your customer’s needs. Make sure that what you are selling answers those needs. Sell what they need, not what you’ve got.

3. You don’t need the gift of the gab to sell. You need the gift of caring and love for people and believe that what you do makes a difference.

4. Close. Know the benefits of your product or service so well that you can sell it in a ‘Twitter pitch’. Practice your pitch over and over with someone who asks difficult questions. Answer the objections. Then Close!

And as Gavin Sharples says: “People do business with happy people.” So sell with a smile in your voice.

About the author: Rick Ed at age 60 Rick sold his business to a younger and more energetic management team. He now educates entrepreneurs on strategic decision making and sales. Rick is also the founder of the InnovateMy.Biz website.

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