- Using referrals is the easiest way to gain new customers. People like to buy where others have been successful. Here are three major steps to gain referrals:
in the '80s, when my competition was cutting price, I said to myself, "This will not last long. They will go out of business, the prices will stabilize and then I can make my desired markups."
In the '90s when my competition was cutting price, I said to myself, "They cannot continue cutting price and survive. I will wait for them to disappear."
In the early 2000's when my competition was cutting price and, in some cases, I had to follow just to get the customers through the front door, I said to my staff, "The price cutters are here to stay. When one goes out of business, another one opens. The only way to profit today is to sell add-ons.”
If a prospect is worthwhile contacting once, they are worthwhile contacting until they buy. Your prospects are inundated with an estimated 2,400 to 3,000 messages each day. Think of it: they see and hear advertising on television, radio, magazines, newspapers, billboards, the Internet, clothing, buses, you name it. No wonder it’s hard to get a consumer’s attention.
The old adage is true: “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” For those of you too young to understand, it refers to when the settlers were crossing the wilderness in their covered wagons. The wagon wheels constantly needed to be greased to run smoothly. The only way the settler knew when to add grease was when the wheel squeaked. To save time and the cost of the grease, they only greased the wheel that squeaked.
One thing I will never understand about sales professionals is how easy and fast they are willing to give up. Many times, all it takes is one negative response from a customer to discourage an associated from persuing the sale.
I was recently shopping the competition for one of my jewlery business clients when I started to watch a very professional salesperson sell a pair of diamond ear rings. He did everything right; asking questions, listening to the customer, having the customer put on the ear rings, selling store benefits instead of product features. But then, after about 20 minutes, it all went downhill … fast!
The sale fell apart when the customer said, "I’m not sure this is what I am looking for. I want to look around before making a decision." There were lots of things the sales professional could have done to continue the sale, but he didn't. He just gave up.
FACT: The person that jumps at opportunities is the one that is most successful
Young salesperson: “Would you mind telling me your secret of sales success?”
Successful sales professional: “There is no secret. You just have to jump at your opportunities.”
Young salesperson: “But how will I know when these opportunities come?”
Wealthy sales professional: “You can’t. You just have to be aggressive and keep jumping at all your opportunities."
FACT: Your opportunity to close a sale is greater when you work from the other side of the counter.
Counters in a store or a desk in an office are obstacles to closing the sale. When there is an obstacle between you and the customer, it becomes you against the customer for their money. When you are beside the customer it is you and the customer against their problem, need or want.
There is more than one way to get the job done. Here’s one of them:
An old man who lived alone wanted to plant his annual tomato garden, but it was very difficult work as the ground was hard. His only son, Vincent, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament:
I am feeling pretty sad because it looks like I won't be able to plant my tomato garden this year. I'm just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. I know if you were here my troubles would be over. I know you would be happy to dig the plot for me, like in the old days.
A few days later the man received a letter from his son.
During his speech at my high school graduation, the head of the school district, said something that would help me be successful throughout my business career. “To be successful you do not have to have all the answers, no one can. But you do have to know where to find the answers. And the one with the most information will be the most successful.”
In all my business ventures—retail, wholesale, manufacturing and services—knowing how to find the information I needed about people and how to use it has always given me the edge over my competition in selling more to my customers, retaining customers and taking them away from my competitors.
All you have to do to find the information about people that will help you attract customers and close is to ask them. It’s that simple. Using the information is more complicated, but it’s not hard.
Your customers have many places to buy the same products and services that you sell. Why should they buy from you?
I’ve always found the best way to gain and keep customers, without cutting price, is to give them compelling reasons to shop my business and buy from me. I use these reasons to get them in my store, and accept and return my calls. The reasons help me close sales faster and at higher profits.
Whether it was my wholesale, retail, service business or my sales training business, I out-marketed and out-sold my competition with what I like to call “compelling resons”:
A guy bought a new refrigerator for his house. He put his old refrigerator in his front yard and hung a sign on it that said "Free to good home. You want it, you take it."
For three days the refrigerator sat there without even one person looking twice at it. He eventually decided that people were too untrusting of this deal. It looked too good to be true. No one saw the value he was offering. So he changed the sign to read "Fridge for sale $50." That night someone stole it.
Our customers want three things: great products, great service and low price. But we cannot give them all three and make the profits we need. When you lower the selling price, you must lower the quality of your products and services. But when you lower your quality and services, there’s a possibility that the profitable customers go to your competition.
Have you purchased an item or service in the past month that you were perfectly satisfied with?Were you perfectly satisfied with the business you made the purchase from? You probably were.
Now answer this question. How many of your friends, family and associates have you referred to the businesses that you bought from?Most of us will answer “none” or “not many. ” That doesn’t make us bad people. We don’t have the time to go around referring businesses to our friends, family and associates. We don’t think about doing it. The outcome, contrary to popular belief, is that consumers who are very satisfied with products and services are not referring the business they bought them from to others.
Instead of relying on word of mouth, try something called referral marketing. In order to make it work, though, you have to be aggressive. That means all you have to do is ask for it.
I simply ask my satisfied customer, "Mr. Customer, you know I gain most of my business from satisfied customers like you referring me to their family, friends and colleagues. Do you happen to know anyone who I can also help?I’ll also use the “choice technique” by asking, “Could you give me two or three referrals now or would you rather I call you tomorrow for them? “
Vultures are lazy, always taking the easy way to the prize. It’s the same in retail: the prize is the sale and vultures wait around to feed on the road kill. But vultures aren’t always lazy. They’ll also eat you alive, unless you are an “aggressive sales professional.”
If you are an aggressive sales professional in need of a refresher or an aspiring sales associate looking to take your skills to the next level, here are 10 strategies to help stop the vultures.
1. Do not compete on price. You can’t do it and make your margins. Instead, add value by creating product and in-store benefits and by building relationships with your customers.
The way we conduct business is always changing. Ten years ago it was rare for me to do more than 10 percent of my business communications through email. But today it is rare for business to be conducted over the telephone. Just a few years ago my fax machine used reams of paper.I now only get a few faxes a month and hardly ever send one. Although a lot is different from when my father was in business, a lot still remains the same.
Here are a few things that are the same:
Your father, father's father and all of his forefathers profited by building relationships. They also gained new business by turning their competition's customers into their own customers. You should be doing the same. The competition's customers are already buying the products and services you sell. All you have to do is convince them that when they buy those products and services from you they will receive a better deal, not a lower price. Do what all those before you did to grow their businesses and profit: Build a better relationship with your competition's customers.
One of my first businesses, at the age of 10 or 11, was the fruit business. Back in the 50s, grocery stores were not as prominent as they are today. Mom bought eggs from the egg lady, bread from the bread man, and milk from the milkman. They all sold door to door. As I watched mom give them all our money for their products, I’m sure I thought, “If I sell door to door then I will get the money.”
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. You have a problem, you look up the telephone number of the person you believe can solve that problem, dial the number, listen to eight or ten rings, and hear: “I am either on the phone or away from my desk. Please leave your name and number and I will return your call.”
Does that leave you feeling rejected or angry? After all, you are the customer. You are ready to spend your hard earned money and the person you wanted to spend it with is not where they should be to help you. They’re not doing much to make you feel as if they care about you.
Your prospects and customers this year will continue to search for the best deals on the products and services you sell. They will shop price harder than ever before and they will demand more services. That is good news for retailers who are willing to...
- Increase the number of services they provide customers
- Differentiate themselves from the competition
- Sell benefits, not features
- Make it easier for customers to buy from you