. . . by the seashore

Getting them to buy from you

After investing so much effort, time and money to build up a quality leads list, you can’t afford to lose those valuable possible sales.  Each lead is precious because each one is a potential sale. But how do you convert your leads into sales?

  • Firstly, the longer you wait to contact them, the more likely it is that someone else will.  If you are selling appliances and you delay, they may buy from someone else.  Contacting a lead is called following up.  Record the key points of your conversation on the lead list, for when you next follow them up.
  • You don’t buy something every time you go into a shop.  And, not everybody that you contact will buy from you.  You can’t waste valuable time and money on someone who isn’t going to buy from you.  A few well chosen questions like “How would buying this be helpful for you?” will tell you if this is a qualified prospect – someone who is likely to buy – or not. But be careful that you don’t dismiss a possible customer because you have misread their responses.  Sometimes their lack of interest may be a signal for you to better understand their needs.
  • You can’t always talk to your prospect in person, sometimes you have to persuade them over the phone and sometime via email.  Either way, you will better understand what your prospective customer needs by using open-ended questions, questions that are answered with a sentence.  “Can I help you?” may give you a Yes or a No.  It is difficult to enquire further after a No. “What [variety of your product or service] are you looking for?” requires them to say something that you can respond to with further questions until you know whether you can or can’t meet their needs.  You also need questions that respond to objections like “I can’t afford that right now.”  It is often difficult to think of open-ended questions while talking to the customer; write down appropriate questions and practice them on a friend.
  • Although you are probably passionate about the product or service that you are selling, your customer will probably be more interested in the benefits than the features.  Let me explain: digital music players were around before the iPod, but Steve Jobs didn’t sell the iPod by saying: “This mp3 player has 5 gigabytes of storage.”  He said: “This amazing little device holds a thousand songs . . . and it goes right into my pocket.” So don’t bore your customer by telling him or her what they don’t want or need to know. Discuss the benefits that are important to them (“this will make you feel comfortable”) not the features (“this generator produces 652 KiloWatts of power”) which may be more important to you.
  • Many companies use the sale as an opportunity to sell additional products or services.  By adding insurance or a maintenance contract to the sale of a computer takes advantage of the opportunity to up-sell.  Can you add a service or support contract when  you sell your product?

Closing the sale

“Samson killed a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of an ass.  Every day a thousand sales are killed with the same instrument.” Once you know that you can satisfy your prospect’s needs with your product or service, you have to close the sale.  Don’t go on talking, you could kill the sale. “Will you be paying by credit card?” confirms the customer’s commitment to the sale. Understanding why you don’t close certain sales is important for developing your sales strategy.

To convert prospects into customers, you have to offer them something that they want. But how will you know if you have something that they want? You must ask questions. Well chosen questions will help you to know what your prospective customer wants. When you understand what is important to the customer, you will be able to show them how your product or service can meet their needs. Write out a list of appropriate questions so that they come to mind when you are talking with your customer.

  • Don’t use jargon, it may make you sound like a smart Alec and put off the customer who does not want to look ignorant. It is possible to use layman’s language without insulting the customer’s intelligence.
  • Create a conducive environment. Some real estate agents bake an apple and an onion in some water in a pan in an oven to give the house a homely smell so that the prospect feels at home thereby improving the likelihood of a sale.
  • Some people prefer to have things demonstrated – think: test drive – rather than explained. Be prepared to do this, it will often build confidence and trust, and may be the deciding factor.
  • The customer will only buy when you have given them reasons to buy from you. Your questioning must have helped you to match your customer’s needs with your product or services benefits. Help your customer to agree that what you are offering satisfies their needs.

Also, see answering what are called objections as an opportunity to promote other benefits of your offering.
Remove any obstacles to purchase like complicated forms to fill in or time delaying credit checks. Make sure that that is nothing preventing your customer from making their purchase before they leave.
Know your conversion rate, that’s what helps you focus on what makes you successful, like timely follow ups.

Sam Walton of Walmart fame said: “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”  Good customer experience is necessary to keep your customer coming back.  Good customer service is at the heart of customer experience.  The good news is that it is both easy to provide and very rare in South Africa, giving you the edge.

See the previous post for ways to find new customers

First published: 2014/05/15 Updated: 2022/09/27


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