September 2019
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The Leading Edge
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Ten Questions to Increase Sales

 

Ten Questions to Increase Sales

Here is a quick guide to the questions every salesperson should ask themselves when selling just about anything. It's a 10-minute read to get you thinking more about the sales process and how you handle it; it's also a guide to making more sales.

1. How Do I Prepare?

   a. What is the main objective for this call?

   b. What am I selling (clue: benefits not product)?

   c. Who is my competition?

   d. Do I have all the necessary information?

2. How Do I Build Rapport?

   a. Fact: customers say yes to people they feel comfortable with.

   b. Can you recognize what personality/behavioural style you are dealing with?

       i. Analytical

       ii. Driver

       iii. Expressive

       iv. Amiable

3. How Do I Qualify?

   a. Does this person have a need for what I'm selling?

   b. Am I selling to the right person?

   c. Have I answered the question: who is the decision-maker?

   d. Have I analyzed the situation/company and discovered who is who?

       i. Initiator

       ii. Influencer

       iii. Buyer

       iv. Decision-maker

       v. Evaluator

       vi. User

4. How Do I Probe and Clarify?

   a. Do I keep going after I have asked one question, or do I switch right into the sales pitch?

   b. Do I clarify the answers to previous questions?

   c. If I ask, "Are you in the market for our service?" and the customer says "no", do I ask what that "no" means (not now, never, or they haven't in the past)?

   d. Do I take into account the differences in people's perceptions – that "soon" may mean two weeks to me and overnight to the customer?

5. How Do I Establish Agreement?

   a. Do I get my customers into the habit of saying yes?

       i. "Would you like to save your business/family hundreds of dollars?"

       ii. "If I could show you a way, would you be interested?"

       iii. "Can we go ahead?"

       iv. "Do we have an agreement/deal?"

       v. "Can I write that order up?"

6. How Do I Handle Objections?

   a. Do I find out the exact reasons why a customer decides not to buy my product or service?

   b. Do I know what objections I am likely to face? And, do I know how to answer them?

   c. Have I shown the customer why the features, advantages and benefits outweigh their objections?

   d. Do I know my competitor's weaknesses and how to sell against them?

   e. Do I welcome objections as a sign of interest and recognize that once all objections have been answered I will have a sale?

7. Do I Use a Question to Close?

   a. Have I summarized the benefits and customized them to this client?

   b. Have I got the customer to agree that my product or service meets his or her needs?

   c. Have I remembered my ABC's (Always Be Closing)?

   d. Have I asked for the order?

8. Do I Have a Satisfactory Follow-Up System?

   a. Do I stay in touch and make sure the customer is happy?

   b. Do I value the importance of maintaining relationships?

   c. Do I know who would prefer me to call often (Expressives/Amiables) and who would not (Analyticals/Drivers)?

9. Do I Always Evaluate Each Presentation?

   a. Do I evaluate

       i. myself

       ii. the presentation

       iii. the relationship

       iv. my strategy.

   b. If all went well, what did I do right?

   c. If it was unsuccessful or didn't feel right – what did I do wrong?

   d. What could I do better?

10. Do I Practice Goal-Setting?

   a. Do I have a clear definition of what I want to achieve?

   b. Do I have short-term goals?

   c. Do I have long-term goals?

   d. Am I committed to achieving my goals?

   e. Do I have a plan of action to carry them out?

Success in sales is about how you handle yourself prior to being face-to-face with a prospect and even more importantly during the time you are interacting with them. Use the list above as a best-practices crib sheet for healthy sales.

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Ten Questions to Increase Sales

 

A Quick Guide to a Basic Customer Survey

What follows is an example of how you might handle a customer survey if you were planning to open a pet food store (specializing in dog and cat food) in your neighbourhood. If you live in a small town, the questions could be asked in person; you could stand on a downtown street corner for a few hours at different times of the day and literally ask passersby the questions. Alternatively, you could create an online survey using one of the many services such as SurveyMonkey.

Don't get hung up on the fact that we're talking pet food, the principles are the same for almost any retail product. The results will help you decide on how to move forward with your business concept, or maybe an expansion and decide whether it is viable.

Here are the questions; later we'll discuss them in greater detail.

  1. Do you own a pet? (Obviously if the answer is no then you need not carry on any further)
    Yes   No

  2. Do you have a dog/cat/other?
    Dog   Cat   Other

  3. How many dogs/cats do you have?
    Dogs ________   Cats ________

  4. What breeds? ________

  5. What do you feed your dog?
    Dry Food   Canned   Raw (dried)   Raw (wet)

  6. What do you feed your cat?
    Dry Food   Canned   Raw (dried)   Raw (wet)

  7. What brands do you feed them?
    a) _______   b) _______   c) _______   d) _______   other _______

  8. How much on average do you spend on pet food monthly?
    $0-$30   $30-40   $40-50   $50-60   $60+

  9. Where do you currently buy your pet food?
    a) _______   b) _______   c) _______   d) _______   e) _______

  10. What do you like about your current supplier?
    a) _______   b) _______   c) _______   d) _______   e) _______

  11. What do you dislike about your current supplier?
    a) _______   b) _______   c) _______   d) _______   e) _______

  12. Where do you live?
    Area 1 _______   Area 2 _______   Area 3 _______   Area 4 _______   Area 5 _______

The information gathered from say 100 people, to the survey above would be invaluable.

Let's take a closer look at the questions.

Question one is simply a qualifier.

Question two allows you to make sure you are talking to someone who has a dog or cat, or both. This will give you the percentage of dog owners to cat owners in your sample. If you have to ask 150 people to find 100 that have a pet, that statistic is useful in that it shows that two out of three people have a pet in your sample. This same question will allow you to ascertain the breakdown of dog owners to cat owners, those with both, and those with neither but who own another type of pet. This is useful for assessing the ratio of dog food to cat food you should be stocking. To fine tune this you could also research pet owning statistics regionally and nationally to see whether these reflect your local findings.

You could ask an informal secondary question to discover what pets people own other than cats and dogs should you want to stock other types of food. This might provide you with an area for expansion.

Question three asks for numbers. This provides you with an idea of the average number of cats or dogs each owner has. This in turn will allow you to work out how many cats and dogs are owned per 100 people.

Question four gives you some background to the breed and size (and therefore appetite) of the animals. It may also provide an insight into the socioeconomic background of your sample.

Questions five and six are particularly valuable as they provide information as to the popularity of canned, dry, or raw food. This will help with ordering and inventory control.

Question seven. Knowing the most popular brands will help you know what you need to stock. If you are carrying out the survey in person, a good throwaway question is, "Do you remember how much you currently pay for that brand?" Of course, you can also discover this by visiting your competitors.

Question eight tries to establish the average monthly spend of each respondent. This will allow you to work out an average $ value per customer. Once again, very valuable information (e.g. how many customers do you need per week to breakeven).

Question nine identifies your competition. You may think you already know, but this question often brings surprises. Be sure to ask whether the person shops at more than one store, or at various locations.

Question ten directly asks what they like about where they currently shop (your competition). When you have completed the survey and have 100 answers, this list of likes shows you your competition's strengths. In some cases, you might need to prompt people a little; perhaps they like the parking but not the service? Perhaps they like the selection but not the price? What are they really looking for in a pet food supplier?

Question eleven can be redundant as people often offer up this information when telling you what they like about where they shop, for instance, "I really like the selection they have but their prices are a little high." If not, you can gently ask is there something they don't like about where they currently shop. This will give you a list of your competition's weaknesses.

Question twelve provides useful demographic information on your potential customer base. It might also show a higher level of pet ownership in a certain part of town which could be very useful if you are yet to choose a location for your store.

Surveys are always useful. Knowledge is power when it comes to growing a business and tackling a competitive marketplace.

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Ten Questions to Increase Sales

 

Coach's Corner - What is Important?

"Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed." Paulo Coelho, Novelist

We all have things that are important to us. We all get distracted from those important things by something urgent. Being urgent doesn't equate to being important.

Is it really critical to focus on what is most important? Whether it is in our business or our personal life, we need to ask questions to determine not only what that important thing is but how to ensure we are continually focusing on it and not getting distracted. We need to avoid the urgent unless it is truly important.

It is a worthwhile exercise to start your day by looking at what you want to accomplish. What is your primary goal for the day? Deciding what is the most important thing you can be doing, gives you a direction, a focus.

The next question becomes; how are we going to allocate our time to ensure we are tackling the most important work we need to do? What distractions might arise? How can we avoid them? Or, how do we handle them?

"Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four-hour days." Zig Ziglar, Motivational Speaker

With distractions, such as emails, phone calls and other interruptions, we need to figure out what will work for us. Do we set aside a time for emails? Do we let phone calls go to voicemail? Do we close our door or find a quiet space? It is necessary to foresee the common distractions and figure a way to deal with them. It may be different for each of us as to how we cope with the distractions.

As you go about your day with a specific goal in mind, you sometimes need to take a break from the work and assess how things are going. Are you still on track? What other steps do you need to be taking? Have you become distracted? How have you managed your distractions?

We all have a good feeling when we have accomplished something important. To ensure that happens most days, we really need to be intentional about what is important by looking ahead and making it our goal.

"Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them. They stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps they need to take to get them closer to the fulfillment of their goals rather than all the other distractions that life presents to them." Jack Canfield, Author

Paul Abra, Certified Executive Coach, Motivated Coaching

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