A new dawn for sales

As any franchise owner will tell you, accruing sales is essential to establishing a thriving business. Richard Denny gives readers of The Franchise Magazine exclusive insight into the correct practices of effective and ethical selling, to lay the foundations for a positive, loyal and financially active customer base.

Selling today is not what it used to be. This is not to imply that I am in any sense melancholic about what it ‘used to be’. Selling effectively today is just as important, but with the explosion of the Internet, customers are buying independently instead of being sold to.

This may sound preferable, but in too many cases people are buying badly and are very often buying on price alone (we all know we get what we pay for). This is instead of being helped to make the right decision for their circumstances with the aid of an experienced professional sales person with in-depth product knowledge.

We all know it is a joy to be sold to well, but it can be an annoying frustration and, in some cases anger provoking, to be sold to badly, which is why, I suppose, selling has a dubious reputation. But let me remind you, nothing happens anywhere in the world until a sale takes place and the sales person brings in the money that you and other employees can eventually live off.

The role of selling – gaining new customers – often worries and, in some instances, even frightens new franchise owners. In a worst-case scenario for a company, lack of willingness to sell on the part of a franchise owner can be a major cause of business failure. This situation is really very sad and unnecessary and can be accredited to a misunderstanding of what selling really is. It is not about making people buy things they don’t really want or need; selling is about helping people to make the right decision for them, which is also of benefit to the seller considering the long term objective of achieving a recommendation, referral or repeat business. Once people have been trained and shown how to sell, it becomes a natural and normal activity. I have trained literally thousands of business owners on how to sell effectively and, with common sense, that enabled them to have real business growth and a secure profitable financial future. Here are just five simple tips:

Sell yourself: This means not talking about yourself – please don’t do that. It means being interested in your potential customer and enabling them to talk about themselves and their requirements, situations, needs and wants.

Don’t tell, Ask: Telling is out of date selling. Asking is what people should be doing; finding out exactly what a potential customer is looking for, needing or wanting rather than rabbiting on about what you have to offer or to sell. The cliché ‘a sales person has two ears and one mouth’ may seem trite, but it sums up the ratio in which a salesperson should listen and speak perfectly.

What can you do for them?: Don’t sell your products, talk about what your products or services will do. Not about what they are, unless of course the customer wants to know that. Be very forthcoming on the results your customer will achieve by acquiring or using your product or service. Again, let me remind you of the relevant clichés: ‘the sizzle, not the steak’, ‘the beauty, not the make-up’

Create a marriage: Having found out exactly what your customer’s needs and wants are, match-up your product or service to what they are looking for and you can create a corporate marriage, which will hopefully last and lead to prolonged business.

Close the sale: You must ask a customer for their business. Simple little questions or statements will achieve this. For example, ‘let’s complete the paperwork’ or ‘how would you like to pay, cheque or credit card?’ or ‘Let’s fix a date to proceed’ are all ways in which to subtly conclude a business deal.

Obviously, there is more to selling than what this short article is able to cover, but I do hope it is common sense and will allay some fears that readers may have. Being scared to sell can be disastrous for a business. By taking the initiative and selling confidently and sensitively, your business can be brought swiftly in line with modern consumer demands for greater ethical practice.