Easy For You, But No So Easy For Others

May 1 14:12 2006 Darrell Crow Print This Article

We all need to become very comfortable with sales calls as they should become one of our most useful day-to-day tools. Sales calls are how we turn names into prospects and then into customers, and customers into even bigger customers. How we renew customers to take additional products, and how we are able to obtain referrals for more customers. This article explores the necessary ingredients to making a successful sales calls so that they become easy for you and a popular tool in your "grow your business" tool box.

Not long ago at a Southern art teacher’s conference and forum,Guest Posting I made the point that winning teaching contracts at arts & craft stores was easy. The hard part was building one’s business at each store.

Betty approached me at lunch and flatly stated. “Easy for you, but not so easy for others.”

A little confused, I asked for an explanation. She told me its not so easy for some to know how to conduct a sales call. How do I actually approach a potential client store? I know what I want, but I don’t know how to go about it.

A valid point. We all need to become very comfortable with sales calls as they should become one of our most useful day-to-day tools.

Sales calls are how we turn names into prospects and then into customers, and customers into even bigger customers. How we renew students to take additional classes, and how we are able to obtain referrals for more students and host stores. If your business is selling art or supplies, sales calls are even more critical.

I spent the next delightful hour not only in Betty’s company, but in helping her to understand how to make sales calls successful and easy.

It begins with planning. By planning the steps of your sales calls you will make it easy for your customers to buy from you. Too often people think a sales call is some kind of black magic art form whereby the customer is mesmerized into purchasing unwanted products/services. Nothing is further from the truth.

The basic purpose of a sales call is to make it easy for customers to buy from you.

The steps of each sales call includes:

1.Plan

2.Open

3.Question/Confirm

4.Present

5.Commit

6.Follow-through

PLAN

I never tire of encouraging folks to plan. You should plan each sales call. Beforre each call, identify the goals for this call. What are you trying to accomplish with this meeting? Incidentally, this approach works for either phone calls or physical meetings. Plan how you will begin your opening remarks.

Identify what you need to know about this store, then plan the specific questions you need to ask. Know what action you want your prospect or customer to take as a result of this meeting. State what you expect to present during the sales call and finally, identify the steps to take after the call to advance the sale.

OPEN

Open each sales call with a warm welcome and a brief introduction that identifies what you’re trying to achieve with this sales call. Make sure they understand the agenda and be ready to transition to the next step. For example, “Hi, I’m Darrell Crow, a 10-year veteran art instructor and I’d like to thank you for allowing me this opportunity to share with you an exciting proposal for teaching oil painting classes that I believe will help your store gain greater recognition and increased business from your local community. Incidentally, how does the local community know what’s happening in your store?”

QUESTION/CONFIRM

The best way to continue the sales call after the opening is through a series of question and confirmation statements. You will need to prepare these questions in advance. Arrange them flow in a logical and progressive manner. Ise questions to improve your understanding of the customer’s business. Ise questions to intensify the desire for your classes, art or products.

Make sure you’ve done your homework. Prior to the sales call, research this store. Find out what you can on the Web about the store, walk around the aisles and talk to customers to find out what they like, don’t like. This will help structure your questions. You do not want to ask questions when the information is readily available on-line or elsewhere. Remember, most sales calls have a time limit, so be selective in the questions you ask, making sure they’re helping you advance the sales process with the prospect. Some of the best questions deal with what are your goals for this year in regards to ….? What’s keeping you from achieving them…?

Some illustrative examples ….

1.This is a beautiful store you’ve recently opened, I’m glad I have the opportunity to visit with it today. How have you found the reception by the local community?

2.In visiting your store, I noticed you have a cake decorating class, water color class and a class on ribbon making. Do you have any oil painting classes scheduled for the future…?

3.Your classroom is very well located with lots of glass so that shoppers can really see how you’re dedicated to the community. It appears the classroom holds about 20 chairs or student stations. What do you do for larger sized classes?

4.How is the community aware of the classes you teach?

5.Is there any specific quota you’re trying to achieve with your classroom that benefits your overall business?

6.What would you say were your 3 biggest challenges in achieving these objectives?

7.What’s stopping you from achieving them?You get the idea. Each bit of information above you gain, can be used as you present a proposal to the prospect. Whereas the questions above are suitable for my business, I’m sure you will need to adjust for the product and/or service you’re selling.

PRESENTATION

After you have identified all of issues, you’re not ready to transition to the next step: Presentation. This is simply feeding back the needs you have just heard from them.

With one addition….how you can help.

Choose which questions you want to include in your presentation phase. Restate the question you are addressing. Show what your product or service does and how it meets their needs! Give evidence or proof of your capability. (Samples, testimonial letters, portfolio, etc… -- As an oil painting instructor, I’m even prepared to give a demonstration if requested.).

Establish a clear “value” for your product/service. This is done by showing the linkage between your offering and the store’s success. For example, “My experience over the past ten years is that local retail arts and craft stores using me as their instructor generate on average, additional revenues of $750 a year per student. I’ve also found that the average student attends 5 classes. Given that you have 20 student stations that equates to a potential of 50 or 60 students per year needing art supplies and equipment. This represents over $45,000 annual revenues you could begin receiving this month by inviting me to join your staff of guest instructors.”

Be prepared for questions and objections. After a few sales calls, you’ll see a pattern. For example, one objection I frequently hear s is the tuition price I charge. Now mind you, the objection is not from the students, but store management. “Instead of paying you per student, why don’t we simply pay you a percentage of supply sales?” I always respond….”

Why do you want to lower your profits? Don’t pay me anything. Keep your profits. Let the students pay an additional fee for my tuition. This way, I get the fees I want AND you retain 100% of the profits from supply sales. I want you to keep all of your profits. This makes it a win-win proposition for both of us.”

COMMIT

The next step is commit. You propose the next step. And this ideally is the planned goal you originally had for the sales call. In my case, my goal is to set a date for the first class and get the ball rolling for a storewide announcement that Darrell Crow will be conducting oil painting classes here. That’s also called a trial close for you seasoned sales reps. In my business, I try to set the first class date. Whether it be for a class, when my art work will be displayed, etc. The key is setting a specific action of commitment with a date. If you find reluctance, than there’s an issue that you haven’t addressed and you may need to pull back to the Question/Confirm state, re-present and then obtain commitment. If follow-up sales calls are needed, set a date and the goals for the next call. Conclude the sales call in genuine, positive enthusiasm.

FOLLOW-THROUGH

Some of the most important elements of a sales call will occur after your meeting with the prospect. Whatever you commit to at a sales call, follow-through. In otherwords, do what you say you will do.

Be sure to send a professional follow-up letter summarizing decisions, commitments and the value you bring to the table. If a decision is outstanding, restate how and when you understand they will be decided. I couldn’t emphasize enough to Betty the importance of professionally planning for and delivering sales calls. Planning sales calls will help you maintain control of your business. The purpose of each call will be clear to you and your prospects. Your messages will be crystal and you’ll find you can rapidly move prospects to being customers. And enjoy more sales! More business. More money.

At our next Southern art teacher’s conference, Betty stood up and said, “Contracting host stores for teaching contracts was easy. The hard part was building one’s business at each store.” She was busy that lunch hour.

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About Article Author

Darrell Crow
Darrell Crow

Darrell Crow has over 35 years experience in direct response marketing, marketing communications and sales. Darrell put together this Basic Technique of Sales article to assist small business owners and entrepreneurs to gain success quickly. Darrell owns and operates the Darrell Crow Studios where he provides oil painting instructions on both videos and instructor-led classes. Darrell is fast becoming one of America’s favorite oil painting instructors. With his step-by-step instructions, anyone can learn to oil paint. Guaranteed. Request a free copy of his 2-hour comprehensive Basic Technique of Oil Painting Water video at www.darrellcrow.com/videos.

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