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The art of selling: How to kick-start your sales process – New 3 part series!

It may not surprise you to know, that there is a process behind effective selling, but would it surprise you to know there is also a process involved in preparing to sell?

Some business owners jump right into the selling process without doing the preliminary work that helps maximise their chances of success. At times this hasty approach can work, but for the most part, it will be bound to fail.

The simple fact is, no one will buy from you if they don’t want what you’re selling or believe that they need it.

The 3 stages of selling

The process of selling can be broken down into three distinct segments – pre-selling, selling and post selling – and yes, this does mean that the second you’ve completed your sale, you are still in selling mode.

In this, the first in a series of three posts, we are going to consider the work you need to do in pre-selling mode.

Pre-selling

There are a variety of elements that go into your pre-selling work and in this post we are going to examine four of those essential activities:

  • Knowing your ideal client
  • Understanding the problems your ideal client is struggling with
  • Conveying benefits rather than features
  • Understanding the essential role your brand values play in creating truly engaging conversations

So just how well do you truly know and understand your clients?

A lot of us believe we know our clients or customers but if you scratch beneath the surface we don’t always know them as well as we think we do.

The first thing to do here is produce your ideal client/customer avatar. This is a really important exercise to carry out and it’s a process that has been spoken about a lot recently in a variety of markets.

It’s easy to think you know exactly who your ideal client is, but the process of creating an avatar based on the attributes of your ideal client, can be hugely helpful later in your marketing and sales efforts. So don’t be tempted to bypass the activity, it’s well worth the effort.

As an exercise, this can take anything from 45 minutes to 2 hours of your time to fully complete.

To get started, begin by answering the questions below. If you would like the full listing of questions to create your client avatar, click here and you can download your copy.

  • What is your ideal client’s gender, age, marital status and line of work?
  • Are they employed, self-employed or a freelancer?
  • What is the size of the company they work for or own?
  • Is it a local, regional or global company?
  • When was the last time they bought something similar to what you are providing?
  • How did they buy it? – Instalments, one lump sum, credit card, direct debit, PayPal?
  • Exactly what is their decision making process as they purchased your service or product?
  • How do they like to spend their free time?
  • With whom do they spend their free time?
  • What are they most passionate about?

These are just a few of the questions you can use to get you thinking more deeply about your ideal client.

Savvy business owners understand that their prospective clients and customers go through a process before they purchase and this process can alter at various times.

It is essential to appreciate the concern that your client or customer could feel when dealing with a new service, product or business proposition. It’s also important to value and understand the hesitation that your client or customer could be feeling.

Many clients tend to have a higher degree of uncertainty, doubt and worry when considering whether to purchase from someone they know little about.

The higher the price, the greater the uncertainty and doubt in the mind of your client. That’s why it’s so crucial to build a brand for your business because it helps to position you in the minds of your potential clients.

What is your client’s problem?

When you create your ideal client avatar, you also need to focus on discovering what kind of problems or issues they are struggling with. Although this can develop as part of the work you do on your avatar, it is such a vital facet of the pre-sale work that I recommend approaching it as a separate exercise.

Simply asking: “What are you struggling with in your business?” will generally be the most effective way to discover what challenges your client currently faces. Ultimately, of course, if you can provided a solution to their problems then making a sale becomes a whole lot easier.

And the best way to find this out is to ask them directly.

Garnering this information through one-to-one conversations, focus groups or a survey, is a great investment of your time and something you should do on a regular basis.

Remember to make sure you are specific when asking these kind of questions. Often people tend to speak in broad terms, for example, they might say: “I need more clients”, “I need to get to grips with technology”, “I want to get promoted” or “I’m trying to lose weight”.

Although these responses might seem clear cut, in fact they can often benefit from greater explanation and detail. After all, your view of a particular problem might be a million miles away from your client’s view of the same issue.

It’s the benefits that matter

There is a saying – features tell but benefits sell

Features let your clients know the facts of what you’re offering. For example, if you are a coach providing guidance on career transition, the features of your coaching programme might be a 6-month coaching package, which includes one VIP day, 6 group calls and 6 one-to-one calls.

Those are the features but the benefits are exactly what your client gains by making use of your services or products.

Staying with the same example, the benefits of your coaching programme could be that it boosts self-confidence and independence, enhances relationships with co-workers, increases creativity and self-awareness.

Bear in mind that your clients are always looking for the advantages. Even if they are claiming to look for a certain function or attribute, it will be the benefit of the feature that ultimately solves their pain.

However, in some cases it can be difficult to determine between a feature and a benefit, so follow this straightforward exercise to get some clarity on the issue:

  • Write a list of the features of your products or services
  • What does each feature do?
  • What makes it unique and distinct?
  • What technical information is essential?

Against each feature write the answers to the following questions:

  • Why does it matter?
  • What problem does it solve?

Your benefits need to be as specific as possible. Remember, show don’t tell.

It’s the benefits that gets your clients delighted and emotionally engaged with you and your services or products.

What are your Brand Values?

Brand values are what your clients and customers see and feel during their contact with you and your business.

Once your brand values are established it’s essential to make certain that your client experiences these values in every aspect of your business.

Remember, a brand exists in the mind of your client. It is the intangible sum of thoughts and feelings regarding you, your business and your services or products.

A business can steer exactly how a brand is perceived but never has complete control.

So what are your brand values for your business? Be aware that you can have a collection of brand vales for specific services or products. Below are some examples of brand values:

• Accessible, cutting-edge, cost effective. • Unique, confident, reputable, elegant. • Unforgettable, value for money, caring. • Client commitment, every staff member counts, originality. • Clients first, excellence, quality.

If you can form a connection with your clients based upon shared values then that is the strongest bond you can develop.

Can you visualise the different types of conversations that you can begin to have with your potential client, when your values are in alignment?

If you would like to discover exactly what branding is, and how powerful it can be when you get it right; then click here and sign-up for the Blueprint Branding Master Class hosted by The Blueprint Practice.

When you put all of this together you will certainly be more than ready to begin your sales process.

I would love to hear your views and comments on preparing to sell. Is this something you naturally do or is this something new to you? Please share your thoughts in the comments box below and I look forward to connecting with you.

 

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2 Comments
  1. Linda Anderson says

    Really helpful post, Carole – so nice to have the difference between ‘features’ and ‘benefits’ laid out clearly. It took me ages to get my head around that one when I first started out!

  2. Carole Bozkurt says

    Thank you Linda. So pleased that you found the article helpful. Sales can be such a tricky thing to master and even I need to remind myself of the benefits and features ladder for my own business.