Columnists Brad Huisken The circle of the sale

The circle of the sale

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There are specific practical steps, which a salesperson must follow, in order to maximize every selling opportunity. In future articles I will detail more specifically the exact strategies and techniques that a professional jewelry salesperson must introduce into the sales presentation. However, to begin with, I believe salespeople need to know that there are specific issues that must be addressed, and an art and science to the selling process.

The art and science of selling has been misconstrued for years encouraging people to believe that selling is the act of forcing things on people that they don't necessarily want or need. This is false. As a result of your sales presentation, contrary to what the majority of sales trainers will tell you, you want the customer to say those three magic words, "I'll take it." The emphasis shouldn't and can't be placed on the actual "Closing of the Sale" or "Closing Techniques." It is far less pushy and aggressive, and certainly more customer service driven, when a salesperson can get the customer to say through an excellent presentation, "I'll take it."

The days of the fast-talking, shiny-shoe, white-belted, polyester suit salesman are gone. They have gone by the wayside just like the hula-hoop, G.I. Joe, Cabbage Patch dolls, full-service gas stations, and carbon paper, all of which had their place in time; but, that time has long since passed. The public has outgrown this approach. Today's consumer is looking for the top-notch professional who can assist and guide them in making their important buying decisions. It is unfortunate that there are more than just a few of the overly aggressive, unprofessional salespeople left in the world.

We are in business to develop working relationships that will serve us, both now and well into the future. Anyone that doesn't believe that to be the absolute truth simply doesn't get it. You cannot fight the public; they will always win, and you may never find out that you actually lost. A professional salesperson knows that selling is not some type of a battle that is being waged between "them" and "us." We are not attacking anyone! We are not guerrillas, Green Berets, or members of the neighborhood S.W.A.T. Team. We are professional salespeople in the business of delivering goods and services to the public, demonstrating value and integrity to build their trust. In each and every selling situation, a professional salesperson is, or should be, working to develop an "everybody wins" environment.

Lately the public is tightening their belts and being very cautious of when, where, how, and with whom they spend their hard-earned money. Rightfully so, the competition for a prospect's disposable income is at an all-time high. The pie isn't getting any larger; we are simply being forced to cut it into smaller slices. The fact that we are in such a competitive environment in the jewelry industry is also what causes the lack of professionalism. The average salesperson that doesn't have the drive to perfect their skills or the quest for knowledge of their profession is the very salesperson that relies on the heavy-handed sales techniques that we have all grown to despise. They are the bad apples that spoil the entire bushel. The burden on the professionals among us is to offset the bad rap and establish ourselves as something different.

When a customer comes into a jewelry store, they are not necessarily looking for jewelry. They are looking for a place and a person with which to buy the jewelry.

There are a multitude of places where the customer can buy jewelry. The customer can buy from a catalog, the Internet, the cable television shopping channels, department stores, big box category killing stores, chain stores, specialty jewelry stores, and independents. The only way to set each company apart from the rest is through improved customer driven strategies and techniques.

I contend that if I were to stand outside of any specialty retail store in America and ask a customer, "Why do you buy from this particular store?" and their answer is, "Because of the merchandise," that store is in trouble. Should the customer respond, "Because of the people that work in the store," then that particular store is going to have a very long and successful existence. The strategies and techniques we discussed in previous articles, and will be exploring in future articles, if put to use, will make you a true professional salesperson.

My definition of true sales professional is:

"One that causes the exchange of ownership of a product or service based on the prospect's wants and needs, with integrity!"

I find it hard to believe that anyone actually wants to be in a business where their sole purpose in life is to force things on people that they don't want or need. Being able to sleep at night and look myself in the eye is far more important to me than any single transaction could ever be.

The successful sales presentation is one where both the customer and the salesperson feel good about the purchase. I am convinced that the last things we need in the jewelry industry are cleverer closing techniques. What I focus on is how you can actually make more sales than ever before without ever having to use a closing technique.

I will, in the future, dedicate an article to closing the sale. This is because there will always be some people who are resistant, ill-equipped, or who need some nurturing in order to make the final decision. However, I feel that closing techniques, to a large degree, are an apology for a poor job during the process of making the sale.

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of books on the market that detail many closing techniques: "The Closers," "101 Closing Techniques," "How to Close More Sales," "The Art of Closing the Sale," "Secrets of Closing the Sale," "Hard Ball Selling," and on and on. While they are all excellent books that deal with a specific topic, there is definitely more to making a sale than pure closing techniques. Even if you were to read every book and memorize hundreds of different closing techniques, our customers are all individuals. The close that works with one customer won't necessarily work with another customer. Just when you think you have the perfect close for the perfect customer, exactly like the situation described in the book, the customer goes and changes the script on you.

What it is we need are sales techniques. Such as, how to get into a meaningful conversation with our prospects or what questions to ask to find out what their true wants and needs are, or how to get customers to trust us. Also, how to figure out the customers perception of value and how to translate that into terms that the customer will understand in order to create value in their mind through our demonstration, and finally, have them say "I'll take it."

In an emotionally driven industry, as jewelry is, the name of the game is to get your prospects to talk to you, trust you, and to confide in you their wants, needs, and desires. Then it is up to you to demonstrate, with integrity, the very best products or services to fit their wants, needs and desires. Proceeding in your presentation prior to finding out this important information is when you fall back on the pushy and aggressive techniques.

A professional knows that they need to build a strong client base of repeat and referral customers. None of us can survive and reach higher levels of achievement with a continually shifting group of all-new prospects. We are building a career, not a series of one-shot sales. It never ceases to amaze me how many people in sales don't seem to understand or try to exploit this simple strategy. Build for the future, not just for today: tomorrow is the future and today will soon be yesterday.

I know that there are professionals out there that care for and service their existing customers. However, I don't see it nearly enough. I don't believe that I am the only one in this world that receives terrible service. We all have had similar experiences. Selling is really serving your customers needs. It is the little things that mean everything.

I have dealt with numerous insurance people in my life and have purchased an automobile policy, homeowner's policy, renter's policy, commercial policy, etc., and yet not one of them has ever sold me more than one type of policy. Not only has no one ever sold me an additional policy, but also there has only been one that even asked. I have my life insurance with one company, auto with another, disability with a third, and my homeowner's with yet another and so on. The one that did ask, however, was the person I purchased my last homeowners insurance policy from. He actually asked me if he could give me a quote on my auto insurance and being amazed that he asked, I accepted. That was over six months ago and I have yet to receive the quote. My only guess is that he doesn't want or need my other business. Maybe he is waiting for me to call him to see if he has had the time to work up my quote yet. I can assure you I will never call and ask for the quote.

I know the insurance people I mentioned don't need help on closing techniques. They are people that rely on the equivalent of a hammer, crescent wrench, and duct tape to fix anything. There are better tools available, these people simply don't own or use them. They really need to learn how to exploit the opportunities that are sitting in their lap. Only through strategies and techniques that are designed toward a relationship building sales experience will a professional salesperson ever reach their full potential.

Having the tools and knowing how to use them is half the battle. The other half of the battle is retaining and actually "owning" this information. Owning the information is simply application; being able to apply the information without having to stop and think. You have to know your profession; its strategies and techniques, so well that you can react to any situation you may encounter. In selling, there is an absolute next best question or response. We all learn through repetition and practice and there is no shortcut or simple path to being a professional salesperson. It takes a lot of hard work, study, practice, and repetition. Pay the price now and the future success you want and strive for will be yours.

The following four steps are what I call, The Circle of the Sale. Future articles will detail the specific techniques. Keep in mind; they are all user-friendly and geared toward providing outstanding Customer Service.

The Circle of the Sale

  1. Initial contact
  2. Needs assessment
  3. Demonstrating
  4. Closing the sale & adding on

Imagine these four segments being in a circle. Just as with a ring, the circle of the sale has no beginning and no true end. The segments of the circle are not that different from any other selling process you may have read or studied. However, contrary to the beliefs of other sales trainers, the selling process isn't a step-by-step procedure. As a sales professional you can't dictate the selling process, the customer does!

Should a customer come into the store and walk up to the display case and state, "That piece is gorgeous. Can I look at it?" You certainly wouldn't want to try to start with small talk. You would want to show the merchandise. In this case, you would be starting in the Demonstration step. In another situation, a lady walks into the store and says, "My sister was in last week and bought the most incredible pair of earrings I have ever seen." In this situation, I would start in Closing because trust and value have already been established. Trust is the sister and the value is incredible earrings. I would start the selling process by saying, "Would you like a pair just like them?" She may answer "yes" or "no, I want some even bigger." In this situation, you have already closed the sale, you are simply determining the details of the purchase.

In either case, you will still need to ask questions to find out some information that will allow you to have a meaningful non-business conversation with the customer. Ask questions to determine more specifically the emotional reason behind the purchase, what the appropriate add-on items may be, and so on.

The point is that every customer is different and every sales presentation will be different. It's the salespersons ability to bounce around the circle of the sale, from segment to segment, asking questions, having meaningful conversation, demonstrating, suggesting appropriate add-ons and closing the sale or getting the customer to say, "I'll take it" that's the heart and soul of relationship selling.

Again, your ability to build a relationship with the customer will have a dramatic effect on your present and future success in sales. The name of the game today is different than in the near past, the industry has changed and will continue to change. I can assure you that a relationship selling process is what the customer wants, needs, and is hoping for. Customer loyalty isn't dead; your ability to build a relationship will prove it time and time again.

Author, trainer, consultant and speaker Brad Huisken is President of IAS Training and author of the books, "I'm A Salesman! Not A PhD." and "Munchies For Salespeople, Sales Tips You Can Sink Your Teeth Into." Brad has also developed the PMSA Relationship Selling Program, the PSMC Professional Sales Management Course, The Mystery Shoppers Kit, The Employee Handbook - P & P Manual, The Weekly Sales Training Meeting video series along with Aptitude Tests and Proficiency Exams for new hires, current sales staff and sales managers. In addition, he publishes a free weekly newsletter called "Sales Insight" For a free subscription or more information contact IAS Training at 800-248-7703, www.iastraining.com or fax 303-936-9581.

 
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