By Steven Cox, General Manager of Allwest Auto Parts
Edmonton, Alberta — November 20, 2013 — I have made it a habit to meet with my sales staff for 15 minutes every morning before we open to discuss various sales strategies. After a few years, my subject matter was getting repetitive. This motivated me to find new material and thus I decided to research what makes the top salespeople so successful. These are the salespeople that truly know the value of a customer to his or her company and can ultimately attract, get and keep customers. The first thing I learned was that a salesperson is not born, they are made. Perfect!! I started going down an exciting path that motivated me to look even further and learn all there was about the most successful salespeople
My research brought about many concepts and a philosophy that I wanted to teach and adopt into my sales team. It took us three months to discuss and review all this material. The morning meetings took on a new excitement and became a real morale booster, giving our sales team a refreshed positive outlook and new material to give them a great start to becoming top salespeople.
Sales Driven Training
You may not hold any sales meetings or take a huge part in training your staff. Thatâ€™s okay, itâ€™s your business. But I do have to ask, why not? When you realize the difference the small amount of time that you have to invest in sales driven training in comparison to the return, it is hard not to get excited. Just think, one small change in a salesperson could equate to thousands of dollars. After all, we are all in business to be as successful as we can!
Some of these points may seem trivial, but have you ever taken the time to observe how you or your staff sell? What do they say? How is their tone? Are they inviting and do they truly appreciate the customer? Itâ€™s all about impressions to make the sale, doing the best job possible. Itâ€™s simple, invest some time in training and thatâ€™s itâ€¦.you just need to want it enough to do it!
Current Customer Concentration
The easiest next sale is through a current customer. If you successfully deliver a solution to your customer (make a sale), they are grateful. Grateful customers are repeat customers. We commonly make the mistake of putting most of our efforts and resources into attracting new customers, when in fact itâ€™s your current customers or contacts that you need to make an impression on. The majority of our business is from repeat customers. Repeat customers also refer new customers and thus advertise your company for free.
Customers donâ€™t care about you. They are not your friends. Yes, that may seem harsh, but itâ€™s reality. They do expect you to be professional and friendly. Selling to friends is never easy or highly successful, so why do we think itâ€™s best to make good customers our friends? Itâ€™s just a bad idea.
Mind Your Manners
Treat everyone as a potential customer. Be polite and patient to everyone, always. Business can come from unexpected places, so donâ€™t make unnecessary enemies or be unlikable. Pleasant people appear self-controlled and confident and customers that spend money like that. When you interact with a less than pleasant salesperson they can convince you to buy elsewhere. Do you want this guy working for you?
Use good manners with everyone all the time. Bad manners are a signal of insensitivity to others. Bad manners may also make you seem uninterested and uneducated. I was challenged by a younger salesperson saying that their generation is more comfortable being talked to in a more casual manner and that manners do not matter anymore. When I asked this same person if someone with good manners came across as being more professional, compared to someone that spoke more casually, they reluctantly agreed. You are more likely to buy from a well-presented, professional company than a company that treated you like a friend. Itâ€™s all about doing what works the best.
How you, your workspace and place of business look should signal confidence, professionalism and an attention to detail. This demonstrates respect to your customers by showing them itâ€™s important to you to make to make a good impression. You are more than happy to pay more for a good meal at a clean and well-kept, modern restaurant, a place you would describe as â€œhigh end,â€ and would recommend it to others. Are you a â€œhigh endâ€ business?
If there is a delay or a problem we often feel it is the best course of action to communicate this to the customer. Ultimately, they donâ€™t care â€¦ itâ€™s just an excuse! It does happen, itâ€™s just bad business to advertise it and it comes across as being incompetent. Do a great job, do it on time as promised and do it on budget and always give a little more than expected. This is the blueprint for guaranteed customer satisfaction and a repeat customer.
Always return every call, every day, as soon as you can. You are not too big, too busy or too important for anyone. If you donâ€™t return a call, your customer will get this impression and feel that you donâ€™t care.
You are never in a meeting, sick or on vacation. You donâ€™t want your customer to feel like you are too busy for them. Tell your staff, to tell everyone you are out of the office and will return the call when you get back in â€¦ and make sure you do!
Never put down your competition. Your customer may have a positive opinion about your competition and to knock them will question your customerâ€™s intelligence. It also comes off as being arrogant and lacks confidence. Your customer came to you to find out the differences between you and â€œthe other guys.â€ You do not need to be better, just different. You need to be different in a way that works for your customer. Your best policy is to sell what is different, not what is better.
We often feel it comforts our customers to â€œbreak the iceâ€ and talk about something unrelated to our customerâ€™s needs. However, the customer may be feeling like you are wasting their time and that you are unfocused to their needs. You are there to help the customer, anything else is a waste of time and you and your customer know it.
There are many approaches to a customer that work, but it makes sense to use approaches that are the most successful. Your customerâ€™s decision to buy is in your hands, or we really should say in your words.
What makes the most successful salespeople? They put their customers first, and make sure that customers know they appreciate their time and business. They are confident, humble, friendly, courteous, and polite and are professional at all times. Why would you want to buy from anyone else?
Steven Cox is the General Manager of Allwest Auto Parts in Edmonton, Alta. The company can be reached at 780-465-4730 or on the web at allwestparts.com.