Some years back, while on a hurried ride back home from work, I met this young man whose voice kidnapped all passengers. He had on a moderately sized red striped shirt, navy blue jeans, and a white canvas. His voice shook, his hands wavered, and his face spoke distress. He was a sales rep; or better put, a marketer.
For a while, I focused on his plight. I could only ponder what pressure it was that made him appear ready to explode. Perhaps he was going to lose his job. Perhaps he has never sold. Perhaps he’s got to make a sale on this bus to save his ass.
I cannot categorically acclaim knowledge of his unique plight. However, for the few minutes we shared on this bus, I couldn’t stop thinking, Why is selling so difficult? What secret rule lies behind a done deal? Why must a man’s face rain blood before a sale is made? At last, I concluded: Selling is hard!
I had just been employed as a Content Editor on a recommendation by an old university colleague. The challenge here was to produce content capable of moving sales of a magazine. Two editions down but several copies ended up in the store as selling became a difficult task. So, all night, I lay awake trying to solve this puzzle.
I combed the internet for secret magic but found lots of data that my busy brain perceived as a hard nut to crack. Then, as I rested my back on the soft sitting room sofa, I heard that clear voice: Selling is a process.
Yes! Selling is a process. This is the secret many people and businesses fail to understand. While there may be an immediate desire to sell, it becomes a difficult task when it is perceived as an immediate act rather than a series of interrelated actions.
Like a man who has just won a lottery, I jumped on my feet with an assurance of a clear pathway to selling. Once, my late dad said, “there is nothing as assuring as identifying the path to a destination. Soon, you will be right there.”
What really is this process of selling?
The selling process begins with product knowledge. It is amazing how often we are eager to jump right out there to get that cash without a clear understanding of the product. Sadly, this is the beginning of the selling failure. Prospects are wise enough to decipher ill knowledge of the product by the marketer. Hence, they immediately switch off the transaction process inwardly. \
As marketers, we must ensure to understand the product’s features and unique selling proposition before we ever stand before a prospect. Prospects are not interested in the features but the problem it solves. Thus, dedicating time to understanding the product will save you lots of wasted time and effort.
Next is personal branding. When you have fully understood the product, then you must immediately seek to brand yourself for it. Once there is a product to market, the marketer’s life does not remain the same.
The product must affect every area of his life. It must determine to a large extent, though not totally, his contacts, the places he visits, the events he attends, and the people he lets into his inner circle.
Back to you. How many of your mobile and social media contacts can afford your product? If the answer is none or not up to half, then you need to consider personal branding right away!
There are events, conferences, and seminars you must seek to attend in order to meet those who can afford what you sell. Meeting prospects is not all there is, but that they feel relaxed about you enough to let go of their contact details.
After this is customer feedback. This follows immediately when personal branding has been resolved. Although personal branding is a continuous process that never ends throughout the product’s lifetime, customer feedback must run through.
Prospects and customers react to the selling endeavor in different ways. This series of reactions, sometimes unpalatable, is an inclusive stage of the selling process. To every product that has a selling potential, is a tie of criticism, appraisals, and sometimes behavioral condemnation.
Handling these effectively moves the marketer closer to the end of a productive selling process. Objections to a product based on a customer’s past experience with other products often create a negative appraisal from such customers. Giving up at this point is equal to aborting a selling process.
Furthermore, referrals and continuous patronage are achieved at this stage. How well a customer’s valid objections, the quest for more information, and outright displays of displeasure are handled here determines whether a sale is finalized or not.