You already know this, so I am not going to belabor the issue of selling. This unusual article is about unveiling the most overlooked secret of selling.
How can you sell more every time?
How can you simplify the selling process?
How can you close the sale 99% of the time?
This is what this unusual article has been written to answer.
What Is The Most Overlooked Secret Of Selling?
To answer this question, you’ve got to understand first that selling or closing the sale is an outcome. It is something that happens only after several other things must have happened. Meaning, sales is not made in an instant. Several factors must be well aligned long before the decision to buy is made.
So here’s the most overlooked secret of selling; eliminate every barrier to sale!
That’s as simple as it sounds. To sell more 99% of the time, get rid of every hindrances to making the sale. In other words, to make the sale, shorten the buyers’ decision process.
How To Sell More
To sell more, you need to understand how people buy. People make buying decisions daily. Meaning that people naturally love to buy stuff; there’s an intention to buy. They just need help going through the buying decision process. So what does this suggest to you as an entrepreneur?
The problem with selling is not from the target buyers per se, but from you the seller. To the buyer, buying is a decision. To the seller, buying is sales. To sell 99% of the time, as the seller, you need to see from the buyer’s perspective. To them, what you call sales is a decision they make after considering several things. So customers will buy if you the seller can make the decision to buy easy for them.
How do I mean?
Sales are never made in an instant. A sale is an event that occurs between two people; a buyer and a seller. It is an outcome you get after several other things must have occurred both on the part of the buyer and on your part as the seller. The buying process starts long before the actual sale is made. These other things that need to happen before the actual purchase decision is made, is known as the buying decision process.
The buying decision process is like a funnel; buyers enter into the funnel triggered by a need or problem they have, next they go in search of potential sellers, from here they select a list of likely brands to buy and evaluate them on certain preferences, and finally they come out of the funnel with a purchase decision from the most preferred seller.
Customer Buying Decision Process
Buyers go through 5 critical stages that influence the sales. Understanding them is how you unlock the secret to selling more 99% of the time.
1. Need Recognition
The buying process begins with need recognition. This is when a buyer identifies a problem that requires solution or a need that must be met. There are two sources from which the buying process is initiated;
- Internal Stimuli
- External Stimuli
When the buyer’s recognition of a problem is inspired by the desire to satisfy basic human needs such as; food, shelter, security, etc. This is a buying process triggered by internal stimuli.
But when the buyer’s recognition of a problem is inspired by the desire to satisfy other higher human wants that are shaped by the environment such as cars, vacation, luxury goods etc. This is a buying process triggered by external stimuli.
To sell more 99% of the time, as an entrepreneur, you must understand the source from which your target customers’ buying process is initiated. In other words, you must know why your target customers are in need of what you sell.
2. Information Search
The second step of the buying process is information search. This describes the period of identifying various providers [sellers] of the solution to the problem or need identified above. In other words, where do potential buyers go to look for potential sellers?
- Personal Sources: this refers to information about sellers gathered from family, friends, neighbours, acquaintances etc. in other words, information about sellers obtained from referrals through word-of-mouth [free marketing].
- Commercial Sources: this refers to information about sellers gathered from advertising, salespeople, websites, dealers/agents, packaging, displays, etc. In other words, information about sellers obtained from paid marketing.
- Public Sources: this refers to information about sellers gathered from internet searches, mass media, news, consumer rating organizations. In other words, information about sellers obtained from respected third party sources.
- Experiential Sources: this refers to information about sellers gathered from using the product, handling the product and examining the product. In other words, information about sellers obtained from personal experience.
To sell more 99% of the time, you’ve got to make your brand, product, service or company visible to your target customers through the above sources. Different target customers use different information search sources. So the more relevant the information search source you use, the more sales you stand to make.
3. Evaluation Of Alternatives
Information search is how buyers gather a list of possible sellers. Evaluation of alternatives is how they streamline them into a set of final brand choices based on certain preferences. This is where potential buyers rank sellers based on their unique selling propositions –differentiation.
So as an entrepreneur who desires to sell more, you need to figure out how your brand will stand out from other competing brands in your niche or industry. Here’s what I normally advise my clients; list out all the features and benefits of your brand, product or service and do the same for all your competitions.
What are you looking for by doing this?
You are looking for those unique features and benefits that are peculiar to your brand, product or service that is not similar to that of your competitions. This is your differentiating feature or benefit and your job is to point this out to your target customers throughout all your marketing campaigns.
4. Purchase Decision
This is the point where the buyer finally picks the most preferred brand after evaluating all other potential alternatives. Your goal as an entrepreneur is to be the most preferred choice at this stage of the buying decision process.
You want to be the seller they eventually buy from. Everything you have been doing from the beginning is finally judged here. This is the point where the sale is made. All your marketing will either get you here or hinder you from getting here.
This stage is a direct outcome of the previous stage of evaluation of alternatives. The more compelling and differentiated your brand, product or service, the easier it is for them to pick you as the most preferred choice. Bringing us back to the ultimate question; why buy from you?
To answer this question, make your offer irresistible, create a sense of urgency like a promo or bonanza or limited openings, provide money back guarantee and show testimonials. Anything that you can package along with the particular product/service that will convey more value for money must be included in your offer.
5. Post-purchase Behaviour
The buying decision process doesn’t end when the sale is made. You don’t want to just make the sale; you also want to build a profitable relationship with the new customer you just got. So at this stage, you want to ensure the buyer gets value for their money.
This is the after sales process where the customer measures what they got from your brand against what they expected. If you delivered as you promised, then you can be sure of a repeat purchase from the buyer. But if you don’t deliver as promised, then forget about the customer.
The greater the gap between what you promised and what you delivered, the greater the customers’ dissatisfaction. What does this tell you? If you want to sell more 99% of the time, only make the promises you can keep. Don’t over promise and under deliver. There’s no point in making the sale and losing the customer afterwards.
To make the sale 99% of the time, you need to eliminate all possible barriers to the sale. These barriers come up at different stages of the buying decision process. Identifying them and getting rid of them is how you get the buyer to choose you as the right seller to buy from.
Here’s the 5 critical processes people go through to buy;
- Need Recognition: why do they need what you are selling?
- Information Search: how do they find you?
- Evaluation of alternatives: why buy from you?
- Purchase Decision: why buy now?
- Post-purchase behavior: why buy again and again and again?
The faster you get buyers to go through the 5 buying decision process above, the faster you can make the sale. In other words, to sell more 99% of the time; know why they buy [Need Recognition], make it easy for them to find you [Information Search], define and always communicate your uniqueness [Evaluation of alternatives], make a compelling offer [Purchase Decision], make promises you can keep and keep the promises you make [Post-purchase Behaviour].
What other barriers to sales are you familiar with? And how are you helping buyers to quickly go through the 5 buying decision process?