Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Are you Really in Sales?

Excellent Advice from Pat McGraw:

Whatever Happened to Sales?

Posted: 11 Jul 2011 09:45 AM PDT

Sales is NOT order taking.

Long ago, when I was in college, I had a part-time job in the men’s department at a regional department store chain. I started off with your typical part-time job perspective – I show up, put in my time and collect a check so I could keep going to school, pay my rent and maybe event afford groceries.

But after a few days on the job, meeting my co-workers, I realized there was going to be more to this job. I quickly learned that I was going to need to learn about my products strengths and weaknesses, features and benefits. And I realized that my role, my responsibility was to help the customer find the best solution for their needs.

I was there to help them make a great purchase. And I learned that this made the job a whole heckuva lot more fun.

When someone came in to buy a suit, I asked about where they worked and how often they planned on wearing the suit. I probed until I understood if the person was interested in style, functionality, easy care…

And then I showed them what we had and explained the features and benefits of each option – followed by recommendations based on what I learned about my customer.

After the suit was selected, I asked about socks, belts, shirts and ties because you need those things when wearing a suit. (That’s where I really learned how to match shirts and ties and sock…yes, I learned how to dress myself.)

And if the subject of cost came up – and it did sometimes – I knew what payment options existed in order to make the purchase affordable. (When the buyer would back out of a shirt or tie – I would put them aside and make sure I called the buyer in a couple of weeks to see if they might be ready to buy. Thanks to a marketing department that loved promotional sales, I usually got to call and tell the customer that the shirt and tie were now on sale.)

The full-time salespeople had small file boxes with 3×5 cards that had the customers information on them – name, contact information, size, preferences…and whenever we had a sale or new merchandise came in, they called the right customers and invited them to stop by. So I helped them add to their files – after all, this was their full-time gig and they were commissioned.

Oh, by the way, this approach built strong, personal relationships that made the customer experience more unique and valuable. It drove referrals and retention.

But that’s how we handled cross-selling, up-selling and re-selling. And I don’t often run into this anymore. (Maybe I hang out in the wrong places?)

So, what’s your plan for cross-selling and up-selling and re-selling?

  • An upsell is simply convincing the buyer that he or she should purchase a more expensive (and higher quality or more versatile) product than the one under consideration.
  • A cross-sell is an effort to encourage the committed buyer to add auxiliary items to the purchase, such as accessories or related items.
  • A re-sell is simply convincing a current customer to come back to your business and purchase your products/services again and again (retention).

How skilled are your sales team members in identifying the customer’s needs and offering the best, most appropriate solution for those needs? Do they take orders? Or do they ask question, probe and offer relevant alternatives so the buyer can make an informed decision?

Do they know what else to recommend – and why – once the buyer has made a decision on the primary purchase?

And what does your sale team do to remain in touch with the customer in order to increase the chances for repeat business?

Recommended Reading: Cross-sell versus Up-sell Strategies

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