Anticipate and Overcome Barriers to Sales
What’s stopping you from selling more of your products or services?
People typically decide against purchases based on price, perceived value (or lack thereof), and similar factors. So, we suspect that you and your sales team already have reasonable tactics for closing the deal in these common scenarios.
But perhaps you face other, more complex issues during the sales process. Here are some strategies for anticipating and overcoming five such barriers.
1. Failing to understand customer pain points — If your sales reps make cold calls, or otherwise approach prospects without understanding their wants or needs, their efforts will likely be doomed from the start. Don’t rely on generic sales pitches that have little do with particular customers. Potential clients will quickly decide your presentation is irrelevant to their situation and end the conversation.
Do some research beforehand to educate yourself about your target customer(s). If you truly believe your product offers a viable solution to a problem, customize your sales pitch to specifically address that issue, leaving out extraneous details. Skip the long-winded introduction to your business, the dazzling array of product features you’re so proud of, etc. Simply explain to customers what’s in it for them and you’ll likely sell more.
2. Letting objections catch you by surprise — A corollary of doing advance research is that you'll have a better idea of the customer's probable objections and be ready to pre-emptively address them. Raise these possible concerns and answer them directly. The customer will be impressed by your understanding of his situation and relieved not to be consistently objecting to what you have to say.
3. Promising too much — Because salespeople naturally want to please prospects, they may inadvertently promise more than they can deliver. If they make the sale, sooner or later the customer will discover your product or service’s shortcomings. This may lead to hard feelings, negative word of mouth, and no repeat business.
Instead, encourage your sales team to be honest in their presentations. What, exactly, can your product or service do? What can’t it do? Sharing this information helps to establish trust with potential customers, the most important step in forging a long-term relationship.
4. Neglecting to provide “proof” — You can make a compelling case for your product or service, but many prospects want external evidence to back up their decision to buy. Provide enthusiastic references, testimonials, and case studies. If a would-be customer has a particular problem, and you’ve solved it for others in the past, share the story with them. Not only does this bolster your credibility, it gives prospects an idea of what a working relationship with you will be like.
Some small-business owners are uncomfortable with blatantly tooting their own horns. But when your product or service has a proven track record, you’re not boasting for the sake of boasting. You are honestly reporting what other customers have experienced.
5. Being unwilling to offer a free trial or sample — What better way to demonstrate value than by offering a sample product or free trial of your service? Yes, sometimes that customer who seemed so eager to buy may decide your solution isn’t right for them. But when your offering helps resolve a nagging issue, even on a short-term basis, you’ve eliminated most of the possible objections and paved the way for a successful sale.
Lee Polevoi is an award-winning business writer specializing in the challenges and opportunities facing small business. He is former Senior Writer at Vistage International, a global membership organization of CEOs.