Ldb Ri-scosse_Letizia Custodero - How to sell your product


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Ldb Ri-scosse_Letizia Custodero - How to sell your product

  1. 1. We connect social enterpriseswith investors & the corporate world4th Floor, 20 Old Street, London, UK, EC1V 9AB+44 (0)20 7490 9520Company Registration Number: 6686965People are important but without salesa business has nothing. It is not achicken and egg situation; it is fact.Unless you have a purchase order froma customer, no other business serviceis required. I do not buy into the delayfactors proffered by business start-upprocrastinators who want to establishtheir entire business platform beforeselling anything. You have to, in myopinion, be certain that your product willsell before spending any unnecessaryfunds on further establishments; youmight save yourself a fortune in costand failure, and you have nothing tolose by working accordingly. You canalways get a product delivered, but onlyonce it has been sold.High growth sales cannot be achieved withouta really well thought out offer. Whatever yousell, sell it with passion – with the genuinebelief that what you’re selling is going to makeimprovements, give customer benefits anddeliver a solution of whatever kind to meet theneeds of the client. The highest valuedbusiness has usually built a niche offer or aunique proposition, but even the same ideasold better than the rest can be successful.Many, many activities make up a successfulpaid for sale, and the process can be long orshort, but in my experience it covers a numberof key stages. I cannot overstate enough theimportance of understanding your product andservice enough to overcome all and everyobjection that you will undoubtedly encounter.Overall, my advice would be not to sellsomething you cannot be utterly sure you candeliver. Businesses are not built on overpromising and underachieving. They are builton promises delivered time and time again, withthe opportunity to exceed expectations to thebenefit of the client – who you wish to comeback.Start to sellThere are a few things to keep in mind beforeyou begin selling.In order to be a successful sales person, youmust put yourself in the proper frame of mind,so wake up every morning with your mainobjective for every day being to sell. A salesperson’s first priority is to sell and gettingyourself physically in front of the customer isthe only way to do this – so make it happen.Please also remember that practice makesprogress, and you will have to overcomerejection and hurdles. Indeed, on average,How to sell your productLara Morgan,Founder, Pacific Direct Group LtdLara Morgan was the founder and CEO ofPacific Direct. A founder member of the YoungEntrepreneurs Association, Lara has been afinalist in the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur ofthe Year Award on three occasions as well as afinalist in the Veuve Clicquot Businesswoman ofthe Year Award.
  2. 2. We connect social enterpriseswith investors & the corporate world4th Floor, 20 Old Street, London, UK, EC1V 9AB+44 (0)20 7490 9520Company Registration Number: 6686965seven hurdles will be put up before you win anyorder. If you cannot tolerate a little rejection onthe way and cannot muster the bravery to askfor the sale, at least several times, then stick toadmin.Some characteristics of a successful andeffective sales person are:Being self-motivated,positive,determined,always eager to keep learning,persistent,honest,taking pride in the company andtheir work, andbeing organisedThe seven steps ofsale1. Cold callingCold calling isn’t easy for anybody, but themore you do it, the better you get at it. It isimportant to always keep challenging yourcomfort levels – this will make you a moreeffective person. Any sales person should beon the lookout for more prospects, and I usedto stress to Pacific Direct’s sales people thatthey should constantly target one new prospectevery day.Before you begin cold calling, it is imperativethat you have all the background information onthe business and the person you are going tocontact. Be prepared – do all of the necessarymarket research about the particular company,find out what products they are currentlycarrying, etc… You must be tremendouslyknowledgeable and confident that you areoffering solutions to their needs. By doing theproper market research you are able tounderstand the marketplace and establish whatthe client needs and wants. And before you cancold call someone, you first need to establishwho the decision makers actually are and makesure you are calling the right person; otherwiseyou will be wasting your time. Make sure youknow how to pronounce your contact’s fullname too – taking the time to do this might notseem important at first, but people respondmuch better to someone who is pronouncingtheir name correctly.During the cold call, you want to be able tobuild a presence quickly over the phone. Makesure you are organised – have a pen and paperat hand before you begin. Don’t keep the callgoing for very long unless the contact wishes todrag it out, and before you even begin, alwaysask your contact if the timing is convenient or ifthere is a time when it is more appropriate tocall them back. You must prove to your contactthat you respect their time.The purpose of the cold call is to set up ameeting time and not always to sell over thephone. The objective is to sell yourself and thecompany so effectively that you have piquedthe contact’s interest so much that they nowwant to meet you.And finally, do remember to smile while you aretalking on the phone to someone – it maysound crazy but you can tell if someone issmiling while they are talking to you by the toneof their voice.By the way, one of the best and most powerfulways of generating sales leads, which shouldbe worked into any business is word of mouthrecommendation from an existing customer.Incentivise these, grab onto them and treatthese warm leads with the utmost respect.2. IntroductionAlways in sales, put yourself in the customer’sshoes. Once you have set a meeting time, youmust make sure you show up fully prepared.The purpose of the first meeting is to sellyourself and the company; you are proving toyour contact that you are knowledgeable aboutwhat you do and that you can offer solutions totheir needs that will save them time and moneywhile enhancing their own customer’sperceived value of the business.
  3. 3. We connect social enterpriseswith investors & the corporate world4th Floor, 20 Old Street, London, UK, EC1V 9AB+44 (0)20 7490 9520Company Registration Number: 6686965Always show up to the meeting armed withbrochures (if relevant) and short – very short,preferably – PowerPoint presentations; peopleremember 70 per cent of what they see andonly nine per cent of what they hear, sopictures are very important. Before you beginthe meeting, you will initially be greeted by thereceptionist or secretary. Make friends withthese people as they are the gatekeepers forthe decision makers and can make or breakyou depending on how you treat them.Incidentally, don’t ever be rude, negative ornasty to anybody, and that includes when youare talking about the competition. The moreyou treat people with respect and the morepositive you are, reflects your level ofprofessionalism – and it will be noticed. Equallyimportant to remember is that dwelling ondisaster does not move you on or get youcloser to success. Mistakes simply closeavenues and nothing is the end of the world –or not in my experience, and I have workedrelentlessly to turn every negative into apositive. Do so and your days will be muchbrighter: full of potential for improvement.Make sure that you greet everyone with a firmhandshake. Also, make sure you look everyonein the eyes – this shows your sincerity andconfidence – and always thank everyone fortheir time.When you arrive at the contact’s office orboardroom, always make sure you sit down last(to show respect) unless they invite you to sit,and if you are faced with a choice of chairs – asin a boardroom – ask where you should sit.Once you are in the room make utterly sure youhave planned the presentation or discussionwhich you aim to deliver (easier said than done,but without even a five minute plan you will notbe able to work the opportunity for everythingyou could get). During the first meeting, makesure you spend most of your time listening toyour contact. This is the only way you canreally find out what their needs are.Make your sales pitch memorably short,competent and factual. State your objectives forthe meeting to the contact at the beginning sothat you are both on the same wavelength. Asklots of questions. Conversely, if the contactasks you a question that you do not know theanswer to, do not lie. Simply tell them the truthand that you will get back to them with theanswer (but make sure you follow up – if youdon’t, then how are you going to expect thecontact to have faith in you further down theline?). Similarly, never make a promise youcan’t keep. Be honest with people and they willrespect it. At some point during yourconversation make sure these words leaveyour mouth: “Is there anything I can do to makeyour life easier”? This demonstrates to thecontact that you have their best interests atheart and are not simply selling a product orservice. And take notes and action plans duringthe meeting.When the meeting is over, try to arrangeanother one some time in the future (it is mucheasier to do this when you are sitting in front ofthe person than by phone or email a few dayslater). Avoid odd, uncomfortable departures;make your farewell sentence intelligent. Lateron that day, email the contact your notes fromthe meeting in a detailed manner so that youcan clarify if anything was misunderstood.Do you score your own performance after ameeting? Are you self critical about what youachieve? Make scoring yourself a habit andlearn from every encounter. I have also learnt alot since I learnt to ask others with me atmeetings for their feedback.One important note here: even at the end of thefirst meeting, try to ask for the sale. This can bedone in various ways, for example: “If I canmeet your quality and service needs and meetyour budget, will you order from us?”3. RecommendationOnce all the details have been discussed youcan recommend a product or service based onwhat they have said at the same time, so thereare no surprises. Discuss key terms andconditions. This usually takes place during thesecond meeting. You may encounter somecontacts who want to go through all the steps inthe first meeting – it’s not very likely, but it doeshappen – and this is why you should alwaysbring some samples along in case the contactwants to see any products right away (if doingso is relevant to your business). You will also
  4. 4. We connect social enterpriseswith investors & the corporate world4th Floor, 20 Old Street, London, UK, EC1V 9AB+44 (0)20 7490 9520Company Registration Number: 6686965need to quote them a price. This might not allhappen during one meeting – in fact, you maymeet with a customer many, many times beforeyou get to this point. Try and read yourcontact’s body signals. You can very quickly tellif they are interested or not interested. If theydon’t seem interested, then ask why – and askwhat you can do to make them moreconvinced.4. NegotiationOnce a product or service has been decidedupon, a price can be established and/ornegotiated. The negotiation phase can also bequite lengthy, but the main areas to keep inmind are:Rarely sell anything that does notmake a profit.Never compromise your integrity,the integrity of what you are selling,or the integrity of your company.Never negotiate payment termsunless you are utterly certain thatyour cash flow can afford it.One useful trick to negotiation is this: if thecustomer is trying to get you to lower your priceand you really can’t go any lower, remain silentfor as long as possible. This forces them tospeak again and usually makes them realisethat this is the lowest the price can go.5. Asking for the orderAlways ask for the sale. This can be done atany point, but once a product and price hasbeen set, always ask for the order – but expecthurdles for you to overcome. As previouslymentioned, this can be done casually in the firstmeeting. Also, always make sure that youallude to asking for the order in anycorrespondence with the contact: ‘I lookforward to hearing from you soon and takingyour order.’6. Contract and/oragreementAll relevant paperwork is to be signed and theorder is placed. A forecasting schedule can beincluded where necessary. It is very importantthat whatever you promise you can do for thecustomer, you make sure that people withinyour company are aware of it. You need tokeep all of the internal players in the loop inorder to have everything run smoothly, and youcannot just expect other employees to adjust tomeet your demands.Here is another method that should bepriceless to business organisations thatcompete in a tender system. Find out as soonas you can the methodology and the value thatyour buyers put on the different sections of anybid you make. Focus on the big, highly valueddeliverables and make sure you meet all themeasures placed on the tender. You can findmore information at:www.companyshortcuts.com/documents7. Invoice and/or paymentThe account now needs to be monitored andmaintained. Remember that no order iscomplete until the money is in the bank. This issales’ responsibility and the sales peopleshould not be paid commissions on an orderuntil the business has recouped its costs andbeen paid, at which point profit should beproportioned.The service you provide for the customerdoesn’t stop once the payment has been madeeither. It is all very well to close a sales deal,but maintaining the level of service stated in thecontract is crucial; customer retention is just asimportant. And once the original sale is closed,you have the perfect opportunity to begin up-selling the customer more things – for instance,items for the coming year, reordering products,etc.
  5. 5. We connect social enterpriseswith investors & the corporate world4th Floor, 20 Old Street, London, UK, EC1V 9AB+44 (0)20 7490 9520Company Registration Number: 6686965Phone SkillsIs your answering machine message onyour phone everything it can be? Doyou always leave a call-back number?Do you always sound confident, brightand cheery despite having the worst ofdays when you answer the phone?Incidentally, how often do your teamhear you selling by phone? In an openplan office you can hear and learn fromeach other. I cannot stress enough theimportance of an open base of allcommunication and how much valuethis gives.When calling customers, never, ever ignore anopportunity to leave a solid message. Indeed,when calling any customer, take the time toleave an energising, original and entertainingone. You need not appear to be unprofessional,but the originality of a message that amuseswill always have a greater chance of getting apositive response.There is, of course, the eternal debate overphone messaging services on direct lines andthe means of communicating with ease. Thepoint in everything is to give the client whatthey want. We concluded that our luxury five-star customers wanted to speak to someoneintelligent and able who cared and who, in onetouch, could pass them on to somebody whocould answer their questions. We had theworld’s best receptionist, but we also botheredto train everybody in the business about callhandling and the different kind of enquiries andthe people to whom queries should beforwarded. There is nothing more annoyingthan wasting time finding out, through threedifferent calls, that the person with the answeryou need has left the building. Do not do this toyour customer – aim to make every singletouch point with the client smooth, efficient andprofessional. Your client handling is arepresentation of your brand, your image andthe service you sell. We all form opinions onthe service we experience and, directly linkedto this, we make conclusions about thecompany in general. Your employees representyour brand and your product, so work hard toensure they do so to the best of their ability –from day one. Think about your customers. Forinstance, I could not employ people with anaccent that could not be universally understoodas we were an international business. At onestage we even trained our staff how to transfera call in French; we had French speakinghousekeepers calling in from all sorts of timezones and we needed to guide them to the rightpeople to maximise success.One last important sales tip, call wise. Setyourself targets for outbound selling goals.When it is one of those horrible days when itseem you are not having much success, justkeep going – often the next best client is onlyone call further away from the last rejection. Iused to call over 150 people a day, or perhapsmore in the early days. I did it with the oldfashioned use of a roller-directory card system Icreated myself using library leads and I wouldplay games with myself, starting back, front,middle, different letters or whatever, just tokeep the game interesting and original (Irigorously applied previous sales-callconversation pieces, which engaged the clientuntil I completely perfected my phone pitch.How hard have you gauged client reaction towhat initially will be uncomfortable and difficultfor you? Have you then prioritised which arethe most valuable conversations, alwaysstarting with the highest? The more calls youmake and the sooner you make them, thesooner your success rate will grow.
  6. 6. We connect social enterpriseswith investors & the corporate world4th Floor, 20 Old Street, London, UK, EC1V 9AB+44 (0)20 7490 9520Company Registration Number: 6686965ImageLet me touch on your own personalimage. Conformity has not beensomething I have found comfortable inlife, and there is an inbuilt mechanism, Ithink, in many entrepreneurs that looksto beat the odds. Being memorable canmean something simple like beingdressed appropriately (which still takesthought and planning) all the waythrough to being dressedinappropriately with intent; creativitywith a touch of originality can overcomebarriers. But do remember this: if youare confident enough to be outstandingyou had better be good enough todeliver on any promise you make. Ihave often and still do wear odd socksdeliberately, but at the heart ofanything, we will always be ‘measured’by first impressions – so whenever youhave the chance of promoting yourbusiness, dress for impressing.Irrespective of the entrepreneurial tendency tobe non-conformist, I would suggest that nearlyall successful people have respected a dresscode and know the time and the place in whichthey have to conform to one, to a presentationof themselves which will allow them to makeprogress. The way you speak, dress, stand,eat, drink and every detail of your person isunder scrutiny when you are selling – andmany of us are selling something. Certainly,when you are building a brand, you are theleader of the brand and everything you can doto represent yourself in the appropriate waymatters.I was selling to luxury five star hoteliers whoknow better than anyone the importance ofdress and presentation. I have undoubtedly metsome of the most beautifully turned out andelegant people in the hospitality industry andhave learnt from them the efforts to which theygo to present themselves and their hotels to thebest of their abilities. If you are, like I was,wanting to be taken seriously, then presentyourself in the right way and style yourself tosuit your industry; even consider the pen youwrite with and the watch you might wear. I havelearnt to dress down for some appointmentsand dress up for others. Think hard aboutrespecting the people you are meeting,consider the impression you need to make anddress for success. Do not forget to walk tall,and do so with confidence.Developing the salesprocess formallyIt may sound unbelievable, but wesurvived years at Pacific without anyformal sales literature. Clearly, we werevery lucky to have managed to haveachieved as much as we did throughminiature sampling alone. If you knowyour market and know what the clientwants, have great people on the groundand deliver accordingly, you canachieve a great deal without muchformality.I appreciate this was much easier given thetype of products we promoted – but how luckyagain that we checked out what the competition‘did’ for sales sampling, analysed it andbettered them in every way… except forbrochures, that is. Many members of PacificDirect’s staff called our competitors claimingthat they were about to open a bed andbreakfast guesthouse and so were in need oftoiletries. We measured the time it took forsamples to arrive, how they were packaged,what samples were sent, how they werepresented and, of course, and where possible,did direct offer-price comparisons. I cannotstress strongly enough the importance ofcompetitor research and it will come up again,but in the sales process of your competition,you should be doing so. You will learn a greatdeal which you will be able to use in theimprovement of your own company.
  7. 7. We connect social enterpriseswith investors & the corporate world4th Floor, 20 Old Street, London, UK, EC1V 9AB+44 (0)20 7490 9520Company Registration Number: 6686965Customers first –service ethics andattitudesYou must have a customer-first serviceethic and attitude in every part of yourcompany; after all, the customers payyour salary and retention builds abusiness. Your cultural values must putthe customer at the centre of all thedecisions you make in developmentand investment into your business.Staying in touch and being at thecoalface is critical. This is much easierin the early days when you will perhapshave time every day for face to faceclient meetings, but it becomes anecessary effort later on as yourbusiness outgrows your directindividual sales drive.I do not remember formally learning anythingabout customer service; all I have ever thoughtis that in order to be the best, the company Irepresented needed to deliver consistently onits promise – and by the way, a lost customercan be the most powerful learning experience.If you ask your departing clients why they aregoing elsewhere for a service you havepreviously provided, you may discover a greatdeal about the shortcomings of your operation,against the better offer from a competitor. In myexperience you will be surprised at the level ofdetails a customer will be willing to providewhich will help you improve for the future.I would also suggest that you make very surewhat your business capabilities and boundariesare. What does your business not cover inservice? Are your team clear about not wastingtime discussing something that makes you nomoney? Having said that, there is no harm inhelping a customer with an introduction orsource for a product you do not do – this issales point scoring and is in the area of buildingclient relationships; it can be a great foundationfor a new and developing relationship. I oftenencouraged our team to give references forother companies in our field and beyond. OftenI recommended a solid business whichdistributed the disposable products our hotelsbought, and to some of my clients, theintroduction of such a great service only servedto emphasise the value of the offer we made.Do not undervalue the importance of hearingfirst hand and not through sales feedback orthrough marketing, but direct from the client,their evaluation of your service, your productand anything else which affects their buyingdecision. Invariably customers have greatinsights into product development throughoutyour competitor base. So learn to listen hardand look for eye-widening excitement when acustomer asks if you can deliver somethingnew, something which may well have beenintroduced as an innovation by yourcompetition.The measurement of customer servicestandards also depends on your supplier base.We used to bonus-motivate our distributioncompany for performance. We had a contractwhich promised that they had to deliver goodswithin three days, but we promised clients aweek – so they were never let down. Werelentlessly demanded the best possiblestandards from our subcontractor, and neverblamed them for a lack of service performancebecause I saw these choices of extendedservice as still being our responsibility. If asupplier that you have selected lets down yourcustomer, it is your fault and you need to takeownership and resolve the problem. (You mayalso have to look at the issue of the supplier notmeeting agreed and established criteria, ofcourse.)Incidentally, the only time when the customer isnot king is when he or she behaves in a waywhich is simply unacceptable. In our case thiswas manifested in the way one individual spokeand behaved when ordering from our team.This particular customer always ordered late,outside standard policy and always pushedtime boundaries, and in the end I took somedelight in calling an important hotel in Londonand informing their Purchasing Manager thatwe would not be doing any further business
  8. 8. We connect social enterpriseswith investors & the corporate world4th Floor, 20 Old Street, London, UK, EC1V 9AB+44 (0)20 7490 9520Company Registration Number: 6686965with them. I made the call from the middle ofour office, in the sight and sound of the coresales and service team. I cannot underlineenough the value of such a lesson in puttingyour own team above others in a situation likethis. The reinforcement of my utter faith in themwas extremely powerful.Lara’s sales lawsYour sales passion is infectious and must lead your company direction.Stay in touch with the customer, always.Aim higher than you initially plan, you will always be surprised at howyour audacity delivers beyond expectationsProcess speed in the sales cycle is vital and makes money. The fasteryou narrow down objections, the sooner you win the order or move on –and both are progress. Keep pushing.Complacency kills, persistence pays.Be entertainingly professional and exude energy. It breaks barriers.