Face to Face Selling - Direct Selling Tips¹
Entrepreneurs interested in increasing sales and productivity in today's precarious economy must consider the vital role of face-to-face selling - or risk extinction. And, regardless of your industry, technology's role in the marketplace means consumers are only a click away from your competitors' products or services. The impact of the personal relationship you lovingly nurture will, over time, retain a loyal customer base even if when competing products and services are cheaper and only a key tap away.
Employing a small number of direct-selling techniques as they relate to building personal relationships with customers will likely benefit your bottom line, according to industry leaders. Knowing and understanding a sale's structure will make it easier to identify and implement new techniques. The five basic stages of direct selling, listed here, have been widely implemented since their emergence in the 1950s:
- Attention: Grab the attention of the prospect, usually via advertising.
- Interest: Build the prospect's interest with an emotional appeal. For example, selling a desk chair is more about how the chair will make them feel when they are sitting in it than about the chair's actual properties.
- Desire: Build the prospect's desire for said desk chair. Do this, for example, by showcasing its features, which may include adjustable lumbar support or a tilting mechanism.
- Conviction: Increase the prospect's desire for that chair by providing statistics proving its value. Describe how the product is better than its competitors' version. Testimonials from satisfied customers offer third-party, non-biased opinions.
- Action: The salesperson must close the deal by asking the prospect to act, addressing objections as they occur. Every potential sale will go through some form of the above stages. Nevertheless, experts argue that what is important is the way in which the salesperson leads the prospect to action, not just that the salesperson is able to close the deal. As the cost of getting a new customer is reportedly five times more expensive than keeping an existing one, satisfying existing customers should take precedence. Here are some pointers:
- Building a solid relationship based on trust makes customers repeat buyers, as well as spokespeople for your company. Remember those testimonials!
- Don't underestimate the power of word of mouth as an effective and inexpensive form of advertising.
- Don't throw more traditional sales approaches out the window. Even so, specific CRM techniques like the following can prove invaluable:
- Qualifying, a process that identifies target customers well before the vendor begins to nurture the relationship. Tactics include creating an "ideal customer" profile and criteria, as well as a system to help narrow leads. By identifying the perfect customers before they walk through the door, you are more likely to win them over when you do meet.
- Bundling, a sales technique that works in unison with relationship selling (see below). When you bundle products or services, you offer your prospects and customers a discount upon purchase of two or more items at the same time. Keep in mind the needs of your customer as you make your offer, and the trust you've earned will never be sacrificed.
- Cross selling, or the offer of similar or complementary products in addition to those a customer may be considering. If they are looking for shoes, for example, you might mention that socks are on sale.
- Up selling, the attempt to persuade potential customers to buy costlier items than those they're considering. In this situation, best practices suggest that a long-term relationship trumps a single sale. However, once you have earned a customer's trust, he or she will likely buy from you again.