When we think of the marketing mix, what normally springs to mind are the avenues of advertising, marketing and public relations. It’s often difficult for many individuals and businesses to see past the television, print and radio ads, and publicity campaigns.
Many businesses favour these channels as part of their marketing strategy. They are able to see tangible results and communicate with a large and varied audience through one communication channel.
Advertising and publicity is hard for people to ignore, and there is a greater possibility of driving home your message to your target audience.
Then there’s the sales component. Many people’s idea of selling involves the ‘hard sell’. Constantly badgering consumers, not being up front and honest in what they are selling and pressuring people to make a purchase they neither want or need.
However, to put it into perspective, the ‘hard sell’ is not a common sales strategy employed by many businesses today and, for most people, it is not their preferred way of selling or buying. I would question whether it is deemed ‘selling’ at all and see it as just another form of bullying or intimidation.
The true concept of selling is engaging in healthy, trust based, transparent consultative/diagnostic/solution selling.
Professional sales people are professionals who are helpful to customers and understand that not everyone is in a position to buy now. Treating people with respect and working in partnership are two of the most productive ways of promoting your business or product and “selling” your key messages. This is what selling is all about.
Unlike advertising, selling is the vehicle that gets you in real and direct personal contact with your market, your customers and your prospects. This is where you have real conversations about real business, real priorities and possible solutions.
When selling is done in the correct way, the market research and customer relationships that result are priceless.
Although, like every other form of communication and promotional channel, selling must be taken seriously and businesses must make sure their selling processes are in line with their particular sector.
We need to make sure that, as sales people or someone who gives direction to a sales team, we are aware and understand the workings of the business, its strategy, key messages, branding and its position in the broader environment.
Only then are our sales teams in the position to effectively raise organisations’ profiles, reshape image and make sure key messages are heard, just like any other marketing channel.
By following three fundamental rules of effective selling you will be on the path to utilising the skill of selling to its full potential.
- Demonstrate value – When clients deal with pr and creative agencies an important aspect they value is sound advice and guidance. As a sales person, make sure you demonstrate this by understanding what you are selling and how that ties in with your client’s or customer’s needs and their position in the external environment.
- Listen – This may seem simple enough but many sales people forget this essential rule. The only way to understand a client’s objectives and goals is to stop talking and stop thinking about your own needs and genuinely take in what your client is saying. Take notes if you have to but write down exactly what they are saying, not your own thoughts on the issue.
- Show you are on their side – Selling is not an “us versus them” approach. We need to show that we are a valuable partner in the decision making process. To be indispensible in a partnership is to bring to the table what no one else can. As a sales person this should be superior knowledge of the product/service you are selling, a deep understanding of how it can benefit your client and being honest and upfront about any issues that may impact your client.
Selling is a valuable channel when it comes to your marketing strategy. There is business to be done and business to be won, and this can be produced by effective selling.
Sue Barrett is a sales expert, business speaker, adviser, sales facilitator and entrepreneur and founded Barrett Consulting to provide expert sales consulting, sales training, sales coaching and assessments. Visit www.barrett.com.au