In part one of “Tips for Sales Strategy Success,” we talked about making the call, getting the meeting and training your team. To this day, I’m constantly learning from every sales pitch I make. While I’m offering you some fundamentals, you should always approach each new client with a fresh approach and the kind of energy that makes that client feel special.
In part two, I want to dive into two other important aspects of driving sales success to help you stay fresh and excited about every sales opportunity you pitch. As I’ve learned over the years, you’ve got to know our audience, ask questions and ensure you follow up.
Know Your Audience
You might believe you have the best product in the world, but before you can make a sale, you have to know how to build rapport with and reach your buyers successfully. Selling isn’t telling; it’s listening and learning. You need to listen to your audience and learn from them — only then can you start to understand your customer. And getting a better understanding of your prospective buy starts with asking the right questions, having the right message that connects, and giving them the opportunity to say, “I need your product” and, ultimately, “I want your product again and again.” To make someone a repeat purchaser, it takes more than the first sale. You need to take them on a journey and have them follow you on that adventure.
Understanding the person you are selling to is key. It begins with researching your contact. This goes for both the product on the shelf or online, but also when pitching to a retail store buyer. Second, you’ll need your product to stand out above the competition to pique the buyer’s interest. Finally, throughout the sales process, you must continually question, check your understanding of the customers’ wants and adapt your approach while staying true to your brand. It’s totally acceptable that your product or personality will not resonate with everyone, but if you treat people with respect, even the non-fans will have had a positive experience, which will only help.
Here I am specifically referencing meeting a buyer. When you make your first contact, begin by asking how much time they have for the meeting — either via a call or meeting. Ideally, you want a meeting in person, as it is always way better than a video or a call because you can learn so much from seeing and reading people’s body language. Whether it’s video or in person, come in with a smile and lots of confidence. Check your cockiness at the door. Most people are more likely to buy from people they like or at least respect.
Once you have established they have time, spend a few minutes establishing rapport. You should always do research on who they are, where they studied, and if possible, what they like. If you have some common ground, you should inject that into the conversation. (If not, don’t lie.) Then kick off with a small agenda and ask them what they are looking for and what they know about your product. Ask open-ended questions so you avoid getting “yes” and “no” answers, which won’t help you understand what your customer wants.
Start your presentation, adapting it to what you just learned. Summarize with the understanding of who they are and take the opportunity to ask what they think about what they just heard. In your summary, be very literal. Read back what the buyer said. Feel free to ask, “Did I get that right?” Remember, you want to get as much information while you’re with the customer because you’re not guaranteed you’ll have another meeting with that person again.
Most importantly, don’t leave the meeting without setting up a timeline for what comes next and when to follow up. If you get the deal, then ask what they want and when they want it. If the customer turns you down, don’t walk away without using the rejection as a learning opportunity. Ask what they liked and what they disliked. If they don’t like the product, find out why. Be specific: “Can I follow up with you next week? Next month? Next year?” Make sure that no matter how you agree to follow up, you do what you say. Too many salespeople have not taken this seriously and essentially put themselves in a bad position, losing control of the relationship and forcing work from a defensive position.
Always look for opportunities to continue to build rapport with the buyer and try to inject some humor. Find out if the customer is fine with you following up with them to get insights on your product packaging or marketing design. I do this all the time with one of my major customers. They feel very much involved in helping my product succeed.
In the end, a sales call isn’t just a meeting — it’s an opportunity to create a conversation and a narrative that is memorable. When you get it right, it feels amazing.