Face to Face Selling – Direct Selling Tips

Businesses interested in increasing sales and productivity in today’s dynamic changing economy must consider the vital role of face-to-face selling. And, against the backdrop, that technology’s role in the marketplace means consumers are only a click away from your competitors’ products or services.

The impact of managing personal customer relationships will, over time, build a loyal customer base even if when competing products and services are cheaper and only a click away.

The five basic stages of direct selling, listed here, have been widely adopted since their emergence more than half a century ago:

  1. Attention: Get the attention of the prospect, usually via advertising.
  2. Interest: Build the prospect’s interest with an emotional appeal.
  3. Desire: Build the prospect’s desire.
  4. Conviction: Increase the prospect’s desire by proving its value. Describe how it is better than competitors’ options. Provide testimonials from satisfied customers.
  5. Action: Close the deal by asking the prospect to buy, addressing objections as they occur.

Every potential sale will go through some form of the above stages. Nevertheless, experts argue that what is important is the way in which the salesperson leads the prospect to action, not just that the salesperson is able to close the deal. As the cost of getting a new customer is reportedly five times more expensive than keeping an existing one, satisfying existing customers should take precedence.

Personal Selling

Sales is the life-blood of every business.  One of the most effective methods of generating sales is via direct or personal selling.

Many business owners pay ‘lip-service’ to the importance of selling, yet greatly exaggerate the amount of time they spend ‘face-to-face’ with customers.

Face-to-face with Customers.

A study at Columbia University found that the average full-time salesperson spends approximately one and a half hours face-to-face with customers per day.

There is little doubt therefore that time-challenged business owners spend far less time than this face-to-face with customers per day.

Positive Selling Attitude

Why do salespeople avoid getting face-to-face with customers?  Simple.  Fear of rejection and failure.

In order to overcome this it is imperative to work daily on building and sustaining a positive, focused and enthusiastic attitude towards selling.

Ultimately selling is 80% attitude and 20% technique.

The first 8 seconds …

Research reveals that we make up our minds about restaurants, hotels, theatres … within the first 8 seconds

Research also reveals that we make up our minds about people … within the first 8 seconds

Opening Benefits Statement

Nothing is more important to prospecting (other than actually doing it) than the quality and impact of your opening benefit statement.

Over the phone or in person, doors of attention are typically slammed shut in less than 10 seconds. This means you have to maximize the impact of every word, syllable, and pause in your opening benefit statement.

They need to be masterpieces – compelling in the extreme. To skimp in preparing a solid opening benefit statement is to potentially undermine your entire sales effort.

Luckily, opening benefit statements can be prepared, practiced and rehearsed before a sales opportunity is ever begun.

Bear in mind, it’s possible the people you’re attempting to reach are also being approached by many others each day (including competitors).

A potent, compelling, and practiced opening benefit statement can generate many sales opportunities for you, where a competitor’s lack of preparation can leave them out in the cold.

Creating rapport …

  • Put yourself into the other person’s shoes …
  • Be interested rather than being interesting …
  • Listen actively with all of your senses …
  • Have a stock of ‘rapport’ building questions …
  • How did you get started in business …?
  • What kind of challenges did you face along the way?
  • What’s most important priority to you in your business?  Why?
  • What would you like to improve?
  • How do you monitor that?

Identifying Customers’ Needs

People only ever buy two things – solutions to problems and good feelings.  In order to identify potential problems and good feelings it is necessary to ask quality questions.  Much of the time, customers don’t know what they want and do not know what their problems are. This means they don’t really know what they are looking for, or that they even need a particular product or service.

These are key questions in identifying customer needs:

  • What exactly is the business problem the customer is facing?
  • How long has the problem existed?
  • What are the costs or implications if the problem persists?
  • What actions have been taken to solve the problem?
  • What is the cost of not dealing with this problem?
  • What resources are available to fix the problems?
  • Who is the decision-maker?

In summary – examine before you diagnose and prescribe …

It’s presentation time …

It’s presentation time and it’s now down to one thing – promoting the benefits of your product or service in a way that prospects or customers want your solution to their problem – now.

BREME Model …

  • Begin powerfully
  • Repeat regularly
  • Emphasise dramatically
  • Maximize involvement
  • End powerfully

Handling Objections

When a customer says your price is too expensive, or your delivery takes too long, or the specifications don’t match their needs, or they are satisfied with their current supplier … it does not mean they won’t buy.

On the contrary, objections are frequently buying signals, which if handled correctly can assist greatly in closing the sale and forging a long-term customer relationship.  Knowing the 5 common objections customers have allows you to be prepared when they arise. You’ll certainly have more than these 5 but it’s crucial to start with these.

  • It costs too much
  • It won’t work for me
  • I’m happy with my current supplier
  • I can wait; I’m in no hurry
  • I want to think about it

You need to be aware of these likely objections (and many others besides) and have written and rehearsed responses for each objection.

Ask for the business

Asking for the business is often the most stressful part of the sales process for both salespeople and prospects.

Two-thirds of sales are not made because salespeople fail to ask for the business. Repeatedly sales are lost because the sales person is uncomfortable about asking fearing rejection.  If everything else in the sales process has been done well then closing is a natural next step in the conversation.

In order to increase closing rates, it is useful to ‘test-close’ frequently during your presentation. This is best done by posing questions to determine ‘buying temperature’.  The more small agreements you receive during the sales presentation the greater the chances of success when you ‘ask for the business’.

You should prepare and rehearse several sample closing statements that you are comfortable with.  These are simple statements and questions that assist both sides in the sales process move comfortably to closure.

Avoid slick one-liners. Remember ‘comfort’ comes from preparation and practice … done well.

Getting Referrals

A great way to expand your business is to convert your customers into sales people who generate new business for you.  Get them to recommend you and shorten your sales cycles.   Contrary to common belief, customer referrals don’t just happen. They need an intentional effort to get the right people talking about your business.

  • Be selective
  • Ask
  • Educate
  • Incentivize