Sales: the beating heart of your business

Selling – there really is nothing to fear

Whatever business you’re planning to start – be it to sell a product or offer a service, you’re going to have to be able to sell, because if you are to survive and succeed your business will have to compete with other businesses. The only way to truly beat the competition isn’t to undercut them or outdo them, it’s to outsell them.

You don’t have to be a sales expert to sell

An expert is often described as ‘someone from out of town carrying a briefcase’. Nowhere is this truer when it comes to the perceived mystery and magic surrounding successful salespeople. All sorts of misconceptions abound with many people believing that if you haven’t got the ‘gift of the gab’, or a ‘killer instinct’ then you won’t possibly be able to sell anything.

While you’re busy browsing you overhear the sales staff answer others’ questions and you’re impressed with their knowledge. You also like the range of canoes in the shop but are a bit unsure about which ones might be suitable for you. So you approach the salesperson for some advice.

Now put yourself in the salesperson’s shoes. Here you are with a shop full of canoeing goodies. You stock everything from books, videos and clothing to a wide range of canoes to suit a range of uses and budgets. And anything you haven’t got in stock you can generally get in within 48 hours, or sooner depending on the item required.

People buy benefits not features

Believed to be the first rule in marketing, the ‘people buy benefits not features’ mantra is at the heart of every advertisement you’re ever likely to come across. To sell anything to anyone you must understand this concept and appreciate that if you’re adhering to this rule in your face-to-face sales presentation, brochures or website information, the chances of your sales being anything less than average are greatly reduced.

Putting your sales message together

The way to construct your sales message is to highlight the features first, followed by all the benefits. Start looking at as many advertisements as you can. The glossy magazines that come with weekend newspapers are very useful as they usually contain lot of imaginative ads often with the ‘benefit message’ innovatively hidden somewhere within the message.

We can learn lots from looking at how other businesses market their products. Get into the habit of either cutting out advertisements and keeping them in a file, or writing down the advertising message and keeping it in your notebook. Then when the time comes to write your own ads you can browse through your file for inspiration.

But not everyone buys the same benefit!

We all have different reasons for buying anything. Take, for example, someone buying a flight ticket. Unless it’s a holiday charter airline the people buying a seat on a flight will have different needs. Some will be travelling on business, others holidaying and others wanting to travel as cheaply as possible.

To overcome the problem of differing needs, airlines target their marketing campaigns at different sectors. Comfort and getting you there on time will be key benefits for business travelers, while value for money might be the message for holidaymakers.

Last word

In your business it may not always be possible, owing to budget restrictions, to target different market sectors, so make sure the benefits you’re selling appeal to the widest audience possible.

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