What is selling? In its simplest terms, selling is the process of helping a person to conclude that your product or service is of greater value to him than the price you are asking for. Our market society is based on the principles of freedom and mutual benefit. Each party to a transaction only enters into it when he feels that he will be better off as a result of the transaction than he would be without it. In a free market, the customer always has three options with any purchase decision. First, the customer can buy your product or service. Second, the customer can buy the product or service from someone else. Third, the customer can decide to buy nothing at all.
For the customer to buy your particular product or service, he or she must be convinced that it is not only the best choice available but he must also be persuaded that there is no better way for him to spend the equivalent amount of money. Your job as a salesperson is to convince the customer that all these conditions exist and then to elicit a commitment from him to take action on your offer.
The field of professional selling has changed dramatically since World War II. In a way, selling methodologies are merely responses to customer requirements. At one time, customers were relatively unsophisticated and poorly informed about their choices. Salespeople catered to this customer with carefully planned and memorized sales presentations, loads of enthusiasm and a bag full of techniques designed to crush resistance and get the order at virtually any cost.
But the customer of the 1950s has matured into the customer of the 21st century. Customers are now more intelligent and knowledgeable than ever before. They are experienced buyers and they have interacted with hundreds of salespeople. They are extremely sophisticated and aware of the incredible variety of products and services that are available to them, as well as their relative strengths and weaknesses of those products. Many of them are smarter and better educated than most salespeople and they are far more careful about making a buying decision of any kind.
In addition, they are overwhelmed with work and under-supplied with time. Because of the rapidly increasing pace of change, down-sizing, restructuring and the competitive pressures surrounding them, customers today are harried and hassled. They are swamped with responsibilities, impatient, suspicious, critical, demanding, and spoiled. To sell to today’s customer requires a higher caliber of sales professional than has ever before been required. And it is only going to become tougher and more complicated in the years ahead.
Now, here’s what you can do immediately to put these ideas into action.
- Think continually about how you can convince your customer that your product or service is the very best available.
- Learn why he buys, or refuses to buy and develop strategies to turn non-buyers into buyers.
- Upgrade your knowledge and skills every day so you can sell more effectively. You always want to know more about your product or service than your customer.