What's the best way to identify with your customer? Know his business and ask for his feedback, says Barry J. Farber, president of Farber Training Systems Inc. and Diamond Group in Livingston, New Jersey, and author of several books, including Superstar Sales Secrets (Career Press, $8.99, 800-CAREER-1). Here are five of Farber's top sales secrets:
1. Know your customer's business. Customers expect you to know their business, customers and competition as well as you know your own product or service. Study your customer's industry. Know it's problems and trends. Find out who his biggest competitors are. Some research tools include the company's annual report, trade publications, chamber of commerce directories, and the company's own brochures, newsletters and catalogs.
2. Organize your sales presentation. The basic structure of any sales presentation includes six key points: build rapport with your prospect, introduce the business topic, ask questions to better understand your prospect's needs, summarize your key selling points, and close the sale. "Always begin the process by first visualizing a successful outcome," Farber says.
3. Take notes. Don't rely on your memory to remind you of what's important to your prospect. Ask upfront if it's alright for you to take notes during your sales presentation . Write down key points you can refer to later during your presentation.
4. Answer objections with "feel, felt, found." Don't argue when a prospect says, "I'm not interested", "I just bought one," or "I don't have time right now." Simply say, "I understand how you feel. A lot of my present customers felt the same way. But when they found out how much time they saved by using our product, they were amazed." Then ask for an appointment.
5. Ask for feedback. If you want to improve your sales presentation or your relations with your customers, ask them what you need to do to maintain and increase their business. "Many customers have minor complaints but will never say anything. They just won't buy from you again," Farber says. "If you ask their opinion, they'll be glad to tell you, and to give you the chance to solve the problem."