The last time you went shopping or looking to buy a car, you were probably approached by a salesperson. And depending on the caliber of the business, it may have been someone very good or very bad at their job. Selling of tangible and non tangible goods attracts a lot of different kinds of people.
The stereotypical sales guy in the shoddy used car lot wearing the worst plaid sport jacket in history is still in the backs of a lot of minds when we are approached by the sales staff of any retailer.
They come in all shapes and sizes, and with all kinds of personalities. Some are pushy and invasive, some are touchy feely, some hang back and watch and still others simply ignore you figuring you will give them your money when you are good and ready. Can you identify which sales person you are? And how is that style working for you?
The art of salesmanship has had its ups and downs and in recent years has kind of fallen by the wayside with a lackluster amount of contempt by consumers. But why is that; because the mentality is different these days. The pride is gone.
When you think about it, sales people provide an important service to businesses of all kinds by providing product information as well as incentive to purchase that product. They are the driving force behind many successful businesses including real estate companies, insurance, and yes, graphic design companies. And this directly influences you. Many of these businesses are in a direct line to being clients and paying customers for you and the rest are competition.
Good sales personnel know the difference and when to strike. They are calm cool and collected, never in a hurry to sell a product or service and make it seem effortless. Customers fall all over themselves to give their money to these people. But, why?
- Good salespeople make you feel like you are the most important person in the room. They lean forward slightly and listen to every word you say for clues that will let them fulfill your customer needs. They don’t interrupt, and are never too busy to answer your questions.
- Good sales people work as facilitators, coupling each customer with the perfect product or service. You can tell when a given product or service offers incentives to the sales staff over and above the other products or services because that’s the one all of them try to sell. They don’t care if it’s a good fit or not. A good sales person will fit the right product with the customer based on need, not greed.
- Good sales people make sure you are educated. As a consumer, it is difficult to make an educated decision until you have all the facts. What is good and bad about a product? What are the warranties if you have a problem? Can you bring it back to the place you purchased it or does it have to be sent cross country to a service outlet. A good sales person communicates effectively, giving you the information needed.
- Good sales people take care of the customer without pushing. If you know your product and can answer questions intelligently, you don’t need to be pushy. Most good products will sell themselves if you take the time to learn about them. Being upbeat about a product does not mean bowling a customer over with your personality. When you take the time to really know your product, no matter what it is, you can speak softly and your product will be your big stick.
- Follow through is paramount to return customers and referrals. How many times are you too busy to return phone calls or send a quick “thank you”? Most of us in sales forget these little things are what bring customers back. On average it takes about $300-500 to bring in a new customer, but only about $2 to keep one. Invest in a book of postage stamps and some cheap little thank you notes. Return phone calls at least once a day. When you make a sale, let them know you appreciate them. They will come back because they were recognized as human beings just like you and me.
- Good sales people have a firm hand shake. Who wants to shake hands with wilted lettuce? Or worse, have their fingers broken by an overzealous sales person out for fresh meat? A good hand shake will go a long way with some customers. I want a hand shake that instills confidence and says I’m here to help.
- Good sales people don’t hover. Some companies want you to swoop down on customers the minute they walk in the door. This actually serves a couple of purposes. If you have a question about location, they can answer it and if you are there to rob the place, they have someone that can identify you. Most of us would just like to walk in the door and breathe in the ambiance.
- Good sales people dress the part. Clean clothes that fit the job, as well as oral hygiene are a must for creating a successful persona. If you had onions on your burger at lunch, buy a cheap tooth brush and toothpaste and go to the bathroom. Mints only work for 10-15 minutes no matter what kind they are. Fix the problem. Don’t bathe in your cologne or perfume. Some of us can’t handle it, literally. I have asthma and some strong scents will trigger an attack.
- Ask for referrals. If you know the customer is pleased with your work, there is nothing wrong in asking if a customer knows a friend or relative who might benefit from your help. Letters of referral are also great. These can be filed or added to a resumé or portfolio to show others your quality of work.
- Take care of your business and it will take care of you. By applying the concepts listed here you are investing in you the sales person. Know your product whether it is washers and dryers or graphics. Look good, smell good, use common sense manners, and don’t push. Ask for the referral when the sale is complete. These are old fashioned principles that have been around for decades, but they are tried and true.
Career sale people enjoy a certain amount of freedom that goes with the job description. But with it also goes a certain amount of responsibility. Freelancers need to be aware we have to wear many hats to create a fluid motion of business revenue. One of those hats is being a sales person. Your tactics can improve or flat line your business.
What sales techniques work for you the best? :)
About the author: Lois Knight has been a freelance writer and graphic designer for the last two years. She designs predominantly for small start up companies and non profits in need of design services that could not afford them otherwise.
She has a background as an entrepreneur for over twenty years and has dedicated herself to educating people interested in graphics as a career. She also wrote an ebook titled: I’m Tired of Being Broke A Freelancer’s Guide to Working at Home