A tested method… a tested method…
Perform any given task often enough, and you’ll eventually refine it down to a fine art. This might be something simple, like making a cup of tea, but you’ll see find yourself settling into a comfortable rhythm with that process. With a complex, multi-layered task, you’ll weed out the unnecessary steps, if you approach things methodically.
How does this apply to me? I’m not immediately sure. I guess, from a work perspective, for the admin bits of the role, I’ve learned how to do them in an expedient manner. With any new system it can take a bit of time to get used to it, but when it comes to say, processing a return, I know precisely what I need to do, what I need to print, and I can do it all quite quickly.
When it comes to human interactions, as a salesperson, you learn certain psychological tricks. You learn how to employ these efficiently, and quickly. In my line of sales, you don’t tend to look to get someone to buy after 15 minutes of browsing the store (a bathroom is too in-depth for that), but you can hook someone into coming back to you. A friendly chat, the offer of the free design service, the gifting of a brochure, it all makes the customer inclined to reciprocate your kindness. In my previous job, one way of encouraging someone to feel more compelled to place an order was to make them a tea or coffee. In this post-covid world, that’s less of an option now, which is a shame, as it’s quite subtle, and quite effective.
I was once told my method of selling is ‘un-assumptive’, in that I don’t assume the person I’m talking with will definitely buy. That said, I know how to use assumptive selling. Wedded to this idea is the concept of not giving the customer the chance to say no, and these techniques tend to apply more in faster-paced sales environments (like my sofa-selling job). I’m not a huge fan of what I find to be slightly manipulative techniques, but I can’t deny they work. Instead of asking a customer ‘do you want that’, to which they can easily say no, you ask ‘which one of these options do you prefer?’
With my bathroom sales role, I have a few set questions. ‘What do you have now?’ ‘What are you looking to change?’ They are open questions, that sort of require a bit of a conversation, and sales can be distilled into ‘having a conversation’. Many companies have acronyms and processes. One former employer had the EASY method. Another uses REACH. They are virtually the same thing. ‘Engage, Ask, Show, Yes’. ‘Rapport, Engage, Ask, Close, High’ (as in finish on a high). Key to it all is establishing that relationship with the customer. For me, that means being unassuming, keeping discussions light-hearted, maintaining a positive demeanour. The process can also involve ‘off-topic’ conversation to break the ice. The weather is a good, neutral source of discussion. If you notice the customer has a tattoo/shirt/other item that relates to an interest of yours, you can use that too.
Once you have established a bit of rapport, you have the freedom to ask the questions I posed above. Early on, you want to avoid any questions that have the abrupt ‘no’ as an answer, as that tends to kill the conversation. You need to find out what the customer wants. You can drill down a bit later, as you move from the ask stage to the show stage, and once in the show stage, you can start to use positive reinforcement. ‘Ah, that has been very popular with most other customers’.
The hardest part of many sales roles is the final part, which is closing the sale. As a salesperson, I try to remember that having done the work, I am entitled to ask, though how you ask can impact whether or not you actually get the sale, and if you have failed to establish a good rapport, failed to ask the right questions, and failed to show the customer relevant choices based on their answers, you’ll fail at the end anyway. If you have nailed all those other things, then by the time you ask, the customer might be willing to bite your hand off to get the product/service. Asking for the sale can be as simple as ‘any questions before we place the order?’ I like that one, because it’s low pressure.
I would like to believe I have got this honed quite well. I’m far from the best salesperson out there, but I’m far from the worst, and I have adapted to different situations. Laptops, printers, office furniture, bathrooms, sofas, and back to bathrooms. Each area has different requirements, and different add-ons. The pace of each environment is different. I have held my own in each. What I try to do in any sales environment is to be ethical. I will not lead a customer on. I won’t manipulate them into buying anything they don’t want to buy. If it looks like they need time to consider their options, I will give them time, and with bathrooms, they will probably need that anyway.
So, there you have it. That’s my tested method for sales.