Controlling the Factors that Lead to Sales Success

There are a lot of factors involved when it comes to motivating a person to make a decision to buy. Some of these factors are out of the hands of the salesperson, but many others are not. Understanding which factors you, as the salesperson, can control and which you cannot will give you more control over the sales process and more influence on the buying decision.

Unless you are the owner or manager of your company, you probably have little control over its policies. Things such as store hours, down-payment requirements, special orders, delivery and open-account privileges are all factors that can influence a sale, but all are out of your control as a salesperson.

Though you can’t control company policies, you can control your attitude toward those policies and focus on those factors over which you do have control. While some of the ones I will address here are simple, I often find them missing from a salesperson’s approach. Other factors that I will address are more complex, and may require an investment of time, money or both on your part to develop the skills required to make a difference in your productivity.

Keys to Productivity
One of the simplest elements you can control about your sales approach is to smile and be friendly. When I stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things and head toward the row of checkout registers, I have a tendency to go to the one where I see a smile or have had a previous positive people experience. I will pick that person, even if there is a slightly longer line.

To put this in perspective, think for a moment about your first contact moments when you are selling. Do you project yourself with a friendly smile and have your focus on the prospect and that person’s needs, or will the customer get the feeling he or she is an interruption? While these moments are fleeting, this is the time you have to create the foundation upon which to build your customer relationship.

Your attitude also shows in more than just your words. Your posturing, vocal cadence, eye contact, dress and more all play a role. In order to sell to a prospect you must first create an atmosphere in which that person can believe in you. While some sales achievers seem to develop a relationship of trust naturally, I believe achievers have learned what their initial behavior needs to be to get the right results. So, make sure you take advantage of those precious first-impression moments by reviewing your meeting and greeting style and raising it to a new level. It’s to your advantage and, more importantly, to your customer’s advantage when this trust transcends into a business deal.

With trust in place there are two major areas where creating a positive difference becomes an option: product/industry knowledge and application of design/creative skills. With regard to product and industry knowledge, it’s important to note that today’s consumer comes to us more highly educated than ever before. While most of that knowledge is accurate, some of it may be wrong, and that is where the knowledgeable salesperson/designer can make a big difference.

Knowledge can be acquired on the job, and I would expect anyone who has been working in the industry for more than a year has sufficient knowledge to be successful. However, those salespeople who are very successful also study on their own, reading industry and related magazines and books and talking with factory representatives. They have put themselves on a path to success through learning, a habit that will be ongoing. They will keep abreast of new products and note the evolution of the marketplace. These salespeople will become a magnet for prospects gathering information who want to assure their projects will be well planned and successful.

In additional to product and industry knowledge, our industry offers a very special area of differentiation – our design/creative skills. The kitchen and bath industry has such a wide range of choices when it comes to products, styles and costs that the prospect needs someone to pull it all together. I believe that someone is you, if you so choose.

Salespeople can obtain design skills by pursuing a formal education, or through seminars and industry classes. Of course, there is also the find-it-and-learn-it-by-yourself method.

I believe creativity is a learned skill, so don’t cheat yourself by saying you’re not capable of being creative. Our basis for creativity comes from properly identifying the needs, wants, desires and expectations of the prospect. Once understood, your creativity and design skills can go to work developing the best answers.

Knowledge and creativity are two elements where differentiation can be made between products, companies and, most important, you and your competitive counterpart. Should you choose to be the best and gain the confidence that goes with being the best, your prospect will know the difference and prefer to do business with you.

Another tricky skill successful salespeople need to master is that of justifying the value of our products and services. My experience tells me there will not be a great variance in pricing if the products and services are similar. Of course, if your pricing is too high you cannot justify value and you will not make the sale. If the pricing is too low, you will make the sale but won’t make any profit. Therefore, concentrate on your products and services, formulating them as the best value in the mind of the prospect.

It’s unfortunate, but salespeople seldom work on the development of the message that explains what the customer will gain and/or lose by not accepting your offering. Taking the time to properly develop this message makes it easy for you to differentiate yourself, your products and services from other design/salespeople.

Reaching the Finish
I am going to make a dangerous assumption and assume that you have gone through the sales process in a correct and controlling manner and the time has come when you must invite the prospect to do business with you and close the sale. This invitation should never be a surprise to the customer, as, during the sales process, you will have discussed how you work, your company’s policies and exactly what is expected. This places you in the best possible situation to earn the sale. Those who research the profession of selling conclude that many failures occur because the salesperson simply does not ask for the business. Don’t let this be your failure. Ask for the business.

The important lesson to be learned here is to recognize which sales factors you actually do control and elevate your skills to make a difference. Trust, knowledge, creativity and asking for the sale will be your advantages in the marketplace. Make them work for you.