The one thing that keeps many people from pursuing a work-at-home arrangement is sales. The word “sales” can bring up images of slick used car salesmen or telemarketers who won’t take “no” for an answer. The reality is that successful salespeople are more like counselors….they listen more than they talk, they ask questions, and only offer information when they can meet the client’s need.
The trick to overcoming sales fear is to change how sales is viewed and done. Everyone has an element of a salesperson in them. In our everyday lives we encourage, convince, and advise co-workers, family, and friends on many different things. So when it is important to us, we can find ways to “sell” our ideas, thoughts and feeling to others.
When selling services or products, it helps to see yourself as offering a product or service that can meet a need. You aren’t begging, coercing, or forcing people to buy your wares. Not everyone will want or need the product or service….and that is ok.
The following are some ideas to help make selling second nature. When done successfully, it won’t seem uncomfortable. Instead it will flow as naturally as any other activity you do related to your work.
Know your product or service inside and out! People are uncomfortable buying from people who are hesitant or unknowledgeable. That doesn’t mean you have to know every single detail, but you should be able to answer or find the answer a potential client may want or need. Be enthusiastic about your product! I am not talking about the forced, obnoxious excitement we see on infomercials. Your belief in your service or product should be genuine. People get excited when you’re excited and they want to be enthusiastic like you if they believe your feelings are real, not an act. The more genuine and sincere you are with clients, the more receptive they will be to you.
Avoid scripts. You know why! We can all tell when someone is reading or is mechanically reciting a sales script. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write out important features or benefits you want to cover. The best thing to do is have an outline and practice delivering your message over and over until it is second nature. You don’t want to memorize a script because many conversations don’t follow the script’s order. By using an outline of the ideas you want to cover, you can practice different scenarios, as well as communicating spontaneously. This is very important. To converse spontaneously, you need to be listening. Clients aren’t going to buy from people who don’t listen to them.
LISTEN! As mentioned above, clients need to know that you are paying attention. Plus, if you are going to meet their need, you need to know what it is! People will buy your goods or service if it meets their need. Have you ever had the experience of going to buy something, you tell the sales person what you are looking for but the sales person shows you something not at all close to what you want? Don’t do that!
Ask questions! Instead of listing all the features and benefits of your product or service, ask questions about what your client wants and needs. By understanding what your client is hoping to gain through your product or service, you are in a better position to present your product or service as meeting their need.
Ask for the sale. Most of us don’t want to seem pushy. After all, if they want what you have to offer, they will ask, right? Not necessarily. There are many ways to ask for the sale. Some suggest coming right out with something like, “How many would you like to order today?”, making the assumption that a sale will occur. Others suggest, “If I can get this product with these features, will you be ready to buy today?” Also, just because a prospect says “no” today, doesn’t mean they won’t buy in the future. Don’t be afraid to find out why they aren’t ready to buy. Perhaps you have a solution.
Follow-up. Successful sales people have relationships with their clients. That doesn’t mean they are best friends, but they do check in with clients to be sure the client is happy with the product, answer questions, address concerns and even make future sales. Many marketing books remind us that it is cheaper to keep a client than it is to get a new one!
Ask for referrals. A happy client will refer your services. Someone who hears about you from a client is more likely to buy from you than someone else. To encourage referrals, offer your clients a discount or gift or another incentive to recommend you.
Sales is like any new skill; practice always makes it easier. Not only will you become more comfortable with doing it, you will become more confident. True work-at-home wannabes feel the anxiety and uncertainty, but do it anyway. And usually they discover that it isn’t that bad, particularly when they wake up one day and commute from the bedroom across the hall to the home office!
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