The Art of Selling – Part 3

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Previously, we have looked at how to package and present your business and yourself for prospective customers. This month we continue with how you can improve conversions once you get to the stage that you are asked for a price, a quotation or a proposal.

Asking for a price is the ultimate buying signal.

If the individual or business you gave been targeting asks, at any point, what your product or service costs, then that is a clear signal they are interested in buying it. What you need to ensure is that your quote reflects exactly what the customer is looking for and that it represents a good value proposition. Often, this does not mean being the cheapest.

Be accurate to their needs and tailor your approach.

There is no room to get anything wrong. If you misquote something then the chances are the customer is not going to take the time to point out your mistake. They will go with another supplier. Make sure you listen and note down exactly what the customer is looking for; contact them for clarification if you are unsure of anything as they will respect your attention.

The type of service or product you offer and what the customer’s needs are will dictate how detailed your pricing approach needs to be; will a simple quite be sufficient or do you need to write a more detailed proposal? Believe it or not, my business has won projects in the past based almost mostly on the effort the went into a proposal because it demonstrated our understanding of their needs.

Strike while the iron is hot.

Always assume the client is speaking to other companies to obtain two or three quotes, at the very least. You cannot afford to take too long in providing your price. If the customer has made the decision to buy, then sometimes being first to quote will win you the business, (provided it feels good). That needs to be you. Customers can view it very negatively if you take too long to get back to them, so even if your quote is sent over in time, it will go against you if they felt you took too long. Be timely and demonstrate your want their business.

Presentation makes a BIG difference.

How do you provide an estimate or quotation to a customer? I have a pet hate of businesses that think a quick message on Facebook, or a two-line email is appropriate; it is not. It says you gave little time for the customer or are plain lazy. A professional business should provide a well-presented quote in writing, generally by email. Make sure you take the time to design and lay out a well-formatted document There are plenty of great templates out there or you can ask a local creative agency to design a template for you, just make sure yours looks the best. You would be amazed at how much more confidence customers have in a well-presented quote versus a slapdash one.

Be clear and be detailed – communicate the value.

Imagine your customer is going to print out your quote and put it in front of them alongside two others (that is generally what happens). You want to make sure that the way you explain your product or service says more than the others and gives the impression they will get more from your company. That may not be the case at all, but if you list all of the things, even the small things, that you do then a customer will often assume the others do not provide those things if they are not stated. The more you tell, the more you sell.

Always do a follow-up call the next day.

Once you have sent your price to the customer, you must follow it up. If you have not emailed the customer before, then the chances of going into their junk email box can be quite high and they will likely decide that you simply did not bother to provide your price. following up also gives you the chance to gauge reaction and dress any immediate evaluation questions.

If your price is higher than expected, you will have the chance to explain why and justify the difference, Maybe you misunderstood something that you can then change? Perhaps the customer just has a better offer – it then gives you the chance to match or beat that and get the deal done. You will close far more if you follow up and you do so promptly.

Focus on closing.

Too many lose the business because they simply send over the price and think that is the end of it. A little common courtesy doesn’t just go a long way, it helps to ensure everything is on the right track. Organise your sales opportunities with a good management tool that sends you reminders to follow them up; there are plenty available online, such as Hubspot and Zendesk Sell (I recommend both). Simply being organised and prudent will often elevate you above your competition – you will definitely close more business.

If you cannot get hold of your customer then do not simply give up. That can be fatal. Just keep trying until you do. It is only a no when the customers say no and I have been surprised at how long some customers can take to make a decision; I have followed up maybe six months later and closed the deal because the other companies forgot about them or wrote them off!

“No” is not necessarily the end.

A decision is not final until the customer has signed on the dotted line, so to speak. They may have provisionally made a decision not to choose you but this does not mean they cannot be persuaded to change their mind. You have already lost the business, in theory, so what do you have the lose in being very direct and asking them why and what you can do to change their mind? Everyone likes a deal and if it was a close call it may not take much to win them over. If their decision was a more complex one, and they are committed to it, make a note in your diary to call them up, in say three months, and ask them how they got on;are getting on with the company they chose did not meet their expectations then you will almost certainly get another chance and, best of all, will be in pole position given your previous dealings. At the very least, use it as an opportunity to find out why you lost the business and what you can do better next time.

That concludes our crash course on better selling. Just putting these simple techniques into practice you will win more business, guaranteed.

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Written for, and featured in Pulse Magazine