Sales has a bad reputation. It conjures up images of dodgy second-hand car dealers and Del Boy flogging hooky toasters on Peckham Market. But that reputation is undeserved. Mastering it will drive valuable growth in your business. It’s natural to be nervous and cling to the belief being a salesman and an engineer are two distinct disciplines. But they’re not and combining both is easier than you might think.
You've got to be in it to win it
Engaging with clients and potential customers is key to providing your business with firm foundations for growth. It can be time-consuming, but responding to enquiries is essential to ensure a steady pipeline of new prospects. Don’t ignore queries - respond promptly and courteously and apologise if you can’t provide a quote or service your customer requires. And when you do provide a survey - always send a quote - even if you’re convinced you won’t win the business as you won’t be asked again if you don’t.
Selling is not a mystical process
There’s no great science to selling - it just requires two fundamental skills - persistence and an ability to listen to what your customer is telling you. Your primary motivation should never be about securing a sale - it should be on discerning the problem and suggesting the appropriate solution. Only then can you recommend a product. Peter Bryer of PJ Bryer Heating and Plumbing says: “I’ve sold tens of thousands of boilers over the years but they have all had one thing in common - quality.”
You're the expert - don't be afraid to give advice
Your experience and expertise is invaluable to your customer. Talk to them - it’s the only way to understand their requirements. It also allows you to reassure customers that you are following all the current guidelines in relation to the coronavirus outbreak. Peter Bryer agrees, saying: “It’s essential to visit a customer in person. They might have a quote saying they require a flue through a wall - but if it’s too near a neighbouring property then they will need a vertical flue. You can only provide this kind of insight in person.”
Don't be scared of the word 'no'
“Knock-backs are par for the course”, sales and marketing consultant Dan Hobbs insists. But it’s the next step in this process that can prove absolutely vital. He explains: “If a potential customer has turned down your quote then your immediate priority should be to get in contact with them. Only then can you start to build up a picture and begin to understand why they went with someone else - was it a matter of value, or were there other factors that influenced the decision? Collecting insight like this is vital.”
Make life easy for yourself - the power of systems and processes
A proper sales strategy can pay dividends - but it requires real discipline. Happily there are sales/CRM platforms like Surefire and non-time consuming quote tools like PandaDoc that can give you a real edge in this area. They will provide you with reminders to follow-up leads and automatically send out text messages and emails on your behalf. Entire businesses can now be run very efficiently from a smartphone - allowing you to schedule jobs and invoice clients at the push of a button.
There’s opportunity out there if you’re prepared to seize it. With discipline and the right procedures in place you could reap dividends. Kushty, as Del Boy might say.