At some point in their business journey, everyone will need to increase their client base. Perhaps a long-standing customer relationship has just finished, or maybe you’ve expanded and want to add to your customer base. Whatever the reason, it means you need to increase your sales – but how? Not many people actually like selling – and not many people like being sold to, either! But you need sales for your business to survive…so how do you take the pain out of it for all concerned, and secure those relationships that are going to benefit you both?
There is a way…and this month at The Business Spa, one of our Expert Mentors gave us the answers. Anthony Donovan is a training and development specialist, and he worked with our members to help them turn selling services into solving new customers’ problems. From the questions to ask in the first discovery call, to bringing up cost without feeling that terrible cringe – and finally, what to do when following up to maximise your chances of success. Here are some of his top techniques for selling value, not services, and why it’s a far more pleasant (and successful) experience for all concerned…
It’s all in the Questioning
Do you really want to spend hours each week cold calling your contacts, or on social media trying to grow your network and reach? That approach is time consuming, and can be soul-destroying too. What you need is some assurance that when you get a new lead, you will be able turn them into a new customer – while still providing the same level of service to your existing ones. So you need a technique that you can adapt for each new lead you get.
You’ve got a new lead, and you’re having that first discovery meeting – the one where you learn about what they need, and you tell them what you can do for them. The “sales call”.
The whole purpose of this is to find out if you’re a good fit for each other, and for that, you’ll need to ask questions – questions that will tell them a lot about you, as well as giving them the chance to talk about their business. It’s a conversation that will ultimately show them how you can add value to what they offer, and that’s the key – you’re not selling your services here, but the benefit they will ultimately get from buying them. To find out what that benefit will be to that specific business owner, you need to know all about how they currently operate, and what’s important to them. So try asking some of these questions:
- How long have you been in business?
- What do you enjoy about what you do?
- What are your plans for the coming years for the business – and for yourself?
- Imagine your business in 12 months’ time, doing really well – what does that look like?
- How do you currently address the problem you have / reason for approaching me?
- Why do you want to change what you’re doing about it now?
- What value do you see as a result of changing – do you get time back, reach more customers, gain more knowledge, make more sales?
After this, you’ll know a lot more about how they value your service, and how you can give them that value. It will teach you all you need to know about how to manage the next part of the conversation: what you can do for them, and importantly, what level of service they will be prepared to pay for.
Don’t Sell – Solve
Time to tell them how you can help them with their problem – the reason for this conversation. The golden rule here is to avoid a cookie-cutter sales spiel. The worst thing you can do is to ask brilliant questions and get answers full of insight, and then just roll out a practised set of words about what you offer, with no tailoring to the problem this particular person wants to solve.
This is where you sell – but not your services. You sell the value they will get. You sell the solution to their problem. So let’s say you sell websites – you could probably talk all day about platforms, design and build, functionality, SEO, hosting solutions – but they don’t want that. They’ll get it as part of the service you offer, but they want the end benefit of a website: enhanced business image, better reach, better customer experience. So tell them that’s what they can get.
Or perhaps you’re an HR expert, and can manage contracts and employment terms for them. Engaging you means they don’t have to worry about legal pitfalls and liabilities; they’ll have more secure staff and greater productivity; more time to dedicate to running the business.
Time and money are massive commodities when you run your own business, and if you can save them either or both of these, that’s the value you can add, and that’s what you sell them.
The Money Bit
The part that makes many of us want to hide – price point. But if you’ve laid your groundwork well with the right questions, and shown them what they will get from a relationship with you, then you’re well set to talk about cost. If they already value the benefits of your service in the ways that you’ve demonstrated, this part should be a breeze.
From the information you’ve gleaned from the first part of the conversation, you’ll probably have a good idea of the type of service they’re after – whether it’s your all-bells-and-whistles gold standard offering, or the pared-back package for those on a tighter budget. Tell them the range of what you offer, and suggest one that you think is right for them.
There’s a little bit of psychology to throw in here too – instead of using the words “this service is PRICED at…”, try saying “this service is VALUED at…” – this throws back to the conversation about value, and reinforces the benefit to them from this relationship, rather than the cost.
Occasionally you will get someone so keen that they’ll engage you there and then, and you can move straight on to hashing out a plan for the future of your relationship. More likely though, they’ll want to go away and think it over – and so your job to secure that agreement is not quite done yet.
There are two common conclusions to this conversation. One is “I need a little time to think it over” – and if this is the case, don’t leave it to them to follow up. Ask them when you can get back in touch to find out if they need more information: “When would be the appropriate time for me to follow up with you on this? I’m looking at my calendar and I can see it’s quite full – I want to prioritise that call for you.” Give them a little urgency, but let them know how important they are too. In this scenario, don’t give yourself more work by offering to write it all up and send it through. That makes work for you that they didn’t ask for, and opens the door for more questions and second thoughts than answers.
The second common conclusion is that they ask for exactly that: “Can you put something in writing?”. Of course, no problem – but make sure you ask them the following two questions. Firstly, “What do you need to see in there?” to make sure you’re not creating masses of work for yourself that isn’t needed. And secondly, “Can you talk me through your decision-making process?” Perhaps there’s a full board that will need consulting, or a single business partner, or maybe even a spouse. Finding out who you’re selling to will give you the best grounding for creating that “something in writing” – and will give you a timescale for going in with that follow up contact.
Sales don’t come naturally to everyone. But turning your approach to selling into something different – selling your value instead of the service – will soon become second nature, and you’ll be leaving those practised sales spiels behind in the dust.
Anthony is just one of our host of expert mentors at The Business Spa, and they work with our members to share their knowledge and experience, tailored to our members’ own circumstances. We love to welcome new people to our sessions, and everyone is welcome at our Open Spa guest events, held once per month in each of our locations. Book your seat at the next one, today: https://businessspa.co.uk/event-bookings/