There are many ways to classify salespeople. There are closers, salespeople who are excellent at finalizing the deal and getting a commitment from the customer. And there are prospectors who are strong at identifying new customers. However, the best salespeople will have all of these skills and more.
One of the most important skills a salesperson can have is listening. This means asking customers for information so as they talk the salesperson will learn what the customer requires. This is the beginning step of any successful sales call, and it is a necessary part of any sales presentation. This article will discuss some ways to ask questions and how to make orders not just take orders.
Order takers are salespeople who wait for customers to approach them and tell them what they want. For example, at a department store, a customer may walk up to a clerk with her arms full and give the clerk a credit card. This clerk is an order taker, as he did little to facilitate the purchase and did not identify the customer's needs.
On the other hand, if the clerk approaches the customer while she is selecting an item and says, "We have these items over here which may be good for you," he is an order maker. The clerk has taken control, and will coach the customer to buy items that are appropriate. In addition, the clerk can steer the customer to higher margin items and products that are not available elsewhere to avoid comparison shopping.
A customer may approach and say, "I am looking for X brand of mini-blinds." If the salesperson's answer is to say, "Those are available in the following colors," then he may very well be an order taker. The alternative-the order maker-might say, "Gee that's a great product, I have some of their samples over here. However, if you tell me more about your needs-either privacy, light control, or something else-then I may have many other options for you including some products using new technologies." This order maker then can direct the customer to a different option, if it is appropriate.
There is a curious side-effect an order maker has on the sales process. An order maker tends to build relationships with customers and customers learns that this person actually cares about them and their needs. This is important for getting referrals and for building future business as well.
To be an order maker requires the ability to ask qualifying questions that identify customer needs. If your customer comes to you, and says, "I am looking for verticals for my sliding door," the order taker may ask, "Have you seen these great new PVCs from Vertilux?"
But the order maker, always looking to the customer's needs, may ask the following questions, "Do you like the light filtering effect of fabrics? Do you need the blinds to be washable? Do you want a backing to darken your room?" Depending on the answers, the salesperson may continue, "You have said you want washable fabrics with a soft feel. I have the best selection of fabrics from Vertilux, which is easy to wash, has a nice feel, and is available in a wide range of beautiful patterns and colors. Let me take a moment to show you some samples." Then, of course, the order maker continues to a close. The key difference here was that the order taker did not identify any of the customer's needs, while the order maker discussed what the customer really wanted.
The key difference is control of the relationship. If the customer is the controlling force, you will not have a strong relationship. If there is a give-and-take or a sharing of knowledge, you both will win: your customers end up with blinds that meet their needs, and you end up with happy customers who will refer you to others and buy more from you.
RESHAPE YOUR SELLING STYLE
This approach with customers will take the emphasis off price and will make your business a stronger competitor. The result will be more closed sales and, by controlling the sales process, more control over your profit margins.
I have seen many salespeople wait for customers to ask them for a product, offer them that one item, which is frequently a low-priced and low quality option, and simply take the sale. The real problem with this is that anyone can do it, and the result is that you will lose sales by not making orders.
Take control and gain the power to sell items that allow you to make higher profits such as Vertical Fabrics from the Vertilux Collection. While these are slightly higher priced treatments, customers will be willing to pay more if you build a relationship with them and if you can show them that this product meets their needs. Take control and be an order maker. Now is the time to reshape your selling style.
Ben Kutell is national sales executive for Vertilux Collection, Miami, FL; (800) 356-8837; e-mail: email@example.com; www.vertilux.com.