The most important thing to understand in sales is that it's not about you — it's about the customer. Use these five tips to make more sales and build more relationships.
Sales is an art. It's a delicate balance of persuasion, psychology and understanding of human nature. And like any art, it takes years of practice to perfect.
At the age of 16, I launched my first business. It was a pretty simple venture — a jewelry business where I was selling mostly in Camden Market in England. I noticed that the most successful stalls had the best salespeople. They were the ones who could talk to anyone, no matter who they were, and make a sale.
After starting my first finance job as a junior FX broker, I quickly began to see the importance of sales in every industry. In finance, my role was to essentially bring in new business and sell international payments. I began to study the art of sales and how to be a successful salesperson. This is something I've continued to do throughout my entrepreneurial journey, and it has resulted in the successful launch of two fintech consultancies, which I've scaled to seven figures in just three years.
Here are some sales techniques I use as an entrepreneur, which I hope will help you in your business journey.
1. Sales is 80% listening, 20% talking
The most important thing to understand in sales is that it's not about you — it's about the customer. It's all about understanding their needs and problems and presenting a solution that meets those needs. This can only be done by spending the majority of the conversation listening rather than talking.
The best salespeople are often the best listeners. They understand that in order to sell something, they need to first understand the customer and customize their pitch based on their needs.
Remember, people buy from people. They want to do business with someone they like, trust and can relate to. With this in mind, build a good rapport and always be authentic and genuine.
2. Open-ended questions are key
Open-ended questions are essential at the start of the sales process. They allow you to really get to know your customer and understand their needs. By asking open-ended questions, you can get the customer talking and find out information that you wouldn't be able to if you were just making small talk.
They generally start with who, what, when, where or why, for example:
You should be asking open-ended questions at the beginning of the sales process to help you gather information. They can also be used throughout the conversation to keep the customer talking and to get them to share more information. Closed-ended questions are typically used when you're ready to close the sale to gain commitment and take away any objections they may have.
3. Be mindful of the hammock effect
The hammock effect is when your listener's attention starts to wander, and they stop paying attention to what you're saying. Luckily, research has been able to tell us when this happens and how to prevent it.
In their book Conversations That Win the Complex Sales, Erik Peterson and Tim Riesterer stated that your listener's attention will be at around 70% at the beginning of your message, 20% in the middle and 100% at the end.
With this in mind, focus on the beginning and the end of your message and make sure that these parts are strong. Of course, this doesn't mean that the middle part of your message is unimportant. It just means that you need to spend more time making an impact at the beginning and end of your pitch.
4. Appeal to your buyer's emotions
A really effective way to sell your product is to appeal to your buyer's emotions. This is because people are more likely to make decisions based on their emotions than logic. In fact, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio studied people with damage in the part of the brain where emotions are generated. He found that most of the participants with this damage struggled to make decisions.
Some of the most common emotions that you can appeal to are fear, greed, and scarcity.
5. Follow up
About 80% of sales require five follow-up calls after the meeting. So, if you're not following up, you're leaving money on the table.
Unfortunately, 44% of salespeople give up after the first attempt. They assume that they'll get back to them if the customer is interested. But this is often not the case.
You need to be persistent in your follow-ups. It's important to remember that the sale doesn't happen until the money exchanges hands. If it's a hot lead, you might want to follow up within a few days. If it's a cold lead, you might want to give them a week or so before following up.
Schedule your follow-ups into your calendar, and make sure that you stick to your plan.
Sales are the lifeblood of any business. Without sales, there would be no revenue and no business. This is why it's so crucial for business owners to learn and improve their sales skills.
Remember, these are just a few of the many techniques that are available to you. The key is to experiment and find the ones that work best for you.
The tech used — and how it's used — can make or break you.
It is estimated that the average enterprise-level organization uses over 75 tech tools, on average. Clearly, organizations are recognizing the potential that this can have for their growth — even if they're getting a little overzealous in adopting it.
If you're still not sure how today's options can impact your business for the better, understanding some of their chief use cases can help you recognize its potential.
One of the most apparent ways that businesses are using technology to fuel growth is through automation. These tools take over both the mundane and essential tasks that don't require as much thought or insight from your team. They give employees more time to focus on higher-level activities, while at the same time reducing the risk of human error that can slip in when doing a repeatable, low-level task.
For example, research shows that utilizing marketing automation tools can increase sales productivity by 14.5 percent while simultaneously lowering overhead by 12.2 percent. Marketing this software helps increase leads by enabling marketing professionals to better recognize qualified leads and helping them improve the nurturing process.
Automation can assist with other tasks that aren't so directly customer-facing. From processing invoices, or time-off requests, to syncing scheduling for setting up meetings, it can take care of countless "behind the scenes" tasks that streamline your work, fueling productivity.
"[This leads to] not simply the removal of workers from the equation, as has been wrongly suggested in the past, but to aid workers by passing off the 'tedious' aspects of their work to technology, leaving them in a place to concentrate on more important tasks," writes, Darryl Seland, for Quality Magazine. "It is far removed from the notion of pressing a button and letting the machines do all the work, although the advancement in technology can make it seem that way."
Improving customer service
Positive brand interactions can make all the difference in building lasting loyalty. Research from Microsoft indicates that 69 percent of consumers feel that customer service is essential for securing their brand loyalty.
As a blog post from Envision Consulting further explains: "It's becoming more and more common for businesses to have online chat functions on their websites, allowing potential customers to speak with a representative directly. The interactive nature of online chat can help customers to get their questions or concerns resolved much more quickly."
The right tech can also result in more personalized experiences that make consumers more likely to buy in the first place. Tracking user interactions on your website can provide insights into purchases a customer is considering. This can then be used for email or social media campaigns that are more directly targeted to a user's interests and behaviors.
Better data means better decision making
Without sound information to back up your decision-making, you could take your company down the completely wrong path.
Once again, technology can drive growth — this time, by helping leaders make data-backed decisions. Not only do tech resources help gather and aggregate data, but many tools also provide analytical insights based on this information to help guide your decision making.
Notably, in a PwC survey of over 1,000 senior executives, it was found that organizations that are "highly data-driven" were three times as likely to experience major improvements in their decision making processes when compared to their less data-driven peers. Quality research can help you become more proactive in enacting needed change and have greater confidence that you're taking the right course of action.
Tech tools that collect and analyze data can also help break down the information silos that often pop up in larger enterprises. This gives your entire team a more complete view, while also enabling stronger collaboration across departments. When everyone has access to information that can help them do their job better, you ultimately become more productive and deliver better customer experiences.
The time is NOW
A recent poll of 2,000 American adults via Propel Software found that inconsistent product information was the number one deal-breaker for consumers to "break up" with a brand they use.
There is no denying that the right combination of tools can significantly streamline your operations. Even activities that don't seem to directly contribute to your bottom line can fuel growth by helping you become more productive and better able to meet the needs of your customers.
By evaluating your needs and the available options, you can find tools that help you take your business to the next level — and achieve the massive growth you've been hoping to achieve.
As a small business, generating leads is a top priority. Luckily, there are many ways to get more leads quickly and effectively.
The following five ideas can be used by businesses of all sizes and most industries. The key is to test and modify them to make them work for your customer base.
Here are five foolproof ways to generate leads for your business:
1. Facebook Ads
Facebook ads are one of the best ways to drive leads. If you’re willing to “pay to play,” you have access to specific targeting options, including age, location, interests, and more.
To make your ads successful, and drive qualified leads, use best practices and follow your data. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you create your first Facebook ad:
2. Personalized email marketing
Email marketing is a great way to drive leads, especially when your emails are personalized to the person receiving it.
A study by Experian found that personalized emails generated up to six times higher revenue than non-personalized emails and campaigns.
Use your email platform to personalize your email greeting to include the recipient’s name. Segment your contact list by grouping subscribers together by name location, purchase history, or expressed interests.
This small touch can help you drive more leads while building brand loyalty with potential customers.
As you begin sending emails, it’s important to track your success. This allows you to test, modify and evolve, driving more leads with each send. Compare your open and click rates to the average for your industry, as well, to determine if you’re on par or behind.
Don’t forget to check where people are clicking within the email itself. If you place links in more than one place in your email — which you should to increase total clicks — track which ones are being clicked more often. Learning your subscribers’ habits allows you to be more effective.
3. Discounts and coupons
To drive leads with discounts and coupons, focus on “new customer coupons.”
Once you’ve created your deal or coupon, it’s time to distribute — you can’t expect customers to find these discounts and deals themselves.
Share with current and future customers via all your online platforms, including social media and email.
If possible, create a banner ad or pop-up for your website as well, enticing potential customers to buy right then and there.
If direct mailing is part of your marketing budget, use this as a way to distribute discounts and coupons as well.
4. High-value content
Content is a great way to build search engine optimization for your website, show your knowledge as a business, and generate leads.
The first step in using content as a lead-driving tool is to remember that this term encompasses more than just blog posts. Content could be an ebook, guide, white paper, graphic, in-depth study, or video.
The content is then gated, so potential customers give you their contact information in exchange for access to it.
To make the most of this content, consider how you can make it most valuable and targeted.
For example, if your ideal customer is in the healthcare industry, create a piece of content for healthcare leaders. Learn about this audience, write about a topic that you’ve found to be most important to them, and in a format they prefer (I.E. ebook versus white paper) and then promote it accordingly.
5. Referral Partnerships
As a small business, you can generate leads by partnering with other small businesses. A simple way to facilitate this is with a referral partnership.
In this case, you receive a percentage of the revenue from referrals you send to the other business and vice versa.
Have your lawyers or legal team create and proof paperwork, to ensure both sides are clear on the stipulations.
Include information about requirements such as quality of the leads, total sale amount, percentage tiers, and more.
How will you generate leads for your business?
Every business needs to drive leads. Using these proven strategies, you can drive leads, even with a small budget.
Consider which ideas are best for your potential customers and start testing!
Image Credits: Getty
Family businesses can be serious entities. Some of the world’s biggest and best companies are owned by families, including Walmart, Volkswagen and Berkshire Hathaway. Company owners looking to build a team they trust don’t need to look very far, and enlisting the help of partners, parents, children and siblings can make all the difference. In theory, it’s great. In practice, it’s a different story. Could you work with your family?
Ali Assadkhan knows how to work successfully with siblings. As the founder and one of the owners of Vitasave, started in 2013 and expected to make $50 million in revenue this year, Assadkhan works with his two brothers to run the company. Not only is their business thriving, but Assadkhan and his team successfully transitioned it from a bricks and mortar store to e-commerce-only. Today, the company offers more than 300 brands and 8,000 natural health products.
From nearly ten years of experience working with his brothers, here are Assadkhan’s nine essential tips for running a business with your siblings.
Communicate Clearly and Regularly
Communication is key to any successful relationship, but it's even more important between siblings who run a business together. “You may know your siblings well as people, but you have to make sure no one is left guessing about what's going on in your business,” said Assadkhan. “Running a venture together could bring out new versions of someone's character that may surprise you, even if you all grew up together.”
According to strengths“There might be a natural leader among siblings,” said Assadkhan, “but everyone needs specific areas of responsibility to own.” Like in any team, everyone will have different strengths and the workload has to be split between partners. When building out the team, the brothers “implemented one simple strategy from the E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. Each of us managed one department: marketing, accounting and operations.” This allowed them to each focus on one core area and communicate their progress without duplicating efforts. Divide and conquer and watch your efforts multiply.
Separating personal and professional lives can be tricky among siblings, but it is key to having harmonious relationships both within and outside the business. “We set clear boundaries and draw the line to not mix up our work and personal relationships,” said Assadkhan. For example, “whether we’re discussing growth plans, reviewing performance, or addressing an internal issue, we remain professional and stay on topic. Our personal lives are left at the door of any meeting we have in relation to the business.”
Align Your Goals
“My siblings and I have our individual ideas and unique leadership skills, and without a proper strategy, our ideas could be the very things that break us,” said Assadkhan. To make sure he and his brothers’ plans are all on the same page, they set a clear path together, agree to it, and refer back to it in everything they do. “Building a company or business with family is something many people do not think is possible, but with the goals clearly aligned, including when to expand the product offering and how to improve the website, we have been able to take Vitasave to a respectable height.”
Encourage Healthy Debate
When working with siblings, make the most of there being more of you and don't make decisions by yourself. “Growing up, you might have experienced the older one deciding for everyone or one sibling taking the reins for everyone, but this is no longer just about who has the television remote.” Assadkhan wants you to tell your siblings everything that’s in your head about your business, so you can arrive at decisions as partners. “There have been times in the boardroom where we debate for hours and challenge each other, always in favor of the business. So far, that strategy has worked. And there are never any hard feelings!”
Be Each Other's Source of Motivation
“We are each other’s biggest fuel and we constantly push each other to learn, grow, and stay hungry for knowledge and connections,” said Assadkhan. That was as true in their childhoods as it is today. “When one of us wants to pursue an idea for growing the company, the others support them and are there for them.” Assadkhan, for example, believes that personal breakthroughs lead to better business and “in 2016 I wanted to attend a Tony Robbins seminar. I shared the seminar with my brothers and we all attended together. The seminar changed our personal lives forever which impacted many aspects of our business.”
Don’t Dwell on Failure
Knowing your siblings well means you know what they are capable of, both resounding success and colossal mistakes. “Worrying about what mistakes your siblings might commit will only hinder all of your growth,” said Assadkhan. “Instead, focus on your vision.” At Vitasave, when the team is focused on its vision, failures and mistakes become stepping stones and development opportunities rather than setbacks.
Get Outside Help
Working with siblings means it’s easy to operate in an echo chamber, where you believe that between you, you have all the answers. Assadkhan knows this isn’t the case. “We know there are resources and expertise we need beyond what our family is capable of, so we don’t hesitate to ask for help from others.” Admitting you don’t know the answer within your family unit is a strength, and “getting help from others does not entail weakness but ensures success in the long run.”
Like many family-run businesses, Assadkhan and brothers want their future children to build on the legacy they have started. “Picture your business three, five, to ten decades down the line and think about who might be part of it in the future.” It’s never too soon to start succession planning and Assadkhan recommends you identify critical positions and develop action plans for them. “If younger people in your family want to be involved in the future, you can prepare them early on for this to be a success.”
Working with your family, if done well, can be brilliant. Your business will soar to new heights and you’ll wonder why you didn’t consider it sooner. When done badly, however, it’s a nightmare that affects multiple areas of your life. Keeping communication high, supporting each other, actively seeking experience and help from elsewhere and setting boundaries means it might just work for you.
Image Credit: GETTY
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