By Karen Connor, Vice President COATS

There is a storm brewing lately. A dropping stock market, a slowdown in the economy, recent lay-offs, rising unemployment… How do you survive in “sales” during times like these? Apply the same basic selling principles that work during calm and sunny days!

It’s nice to sit back and rely on “incoming” calls when the economy is booming. Potential clients call in response to advertisements, referrals call from current happy clients and companies you have met networking follow through and purchase. Calls are limitless, clients are limitless, and positions are limitless. During rougher times; you can’t rely on the sale to come to YOU. You have to go AFTER the sale. Return to the same basic tactics for selling.

You can’t attack the sale, barrage the sale, bother the sale – you have to befriend the sale and let the customer realize that you are there to help! You have products that will fulfill their needs. You can actually help their business and increase their sales by providing them with a product or service to enhance their bottom line.

Here is how to open the sales umbrella!

First, summarize your service and share your top three items that you set you apart from your competition. Do you strive for excellent customer service? Guarantee a show up time? Deliver results and not just promises? Use your company’s phrases during sales presentations and calls.

Second, follow-up, follow-up, and then follow-up again. When you call the prospect back many times they are BUSY. YOU are the last thing on their mind. Try asking if they have time to speak to you; it is not only courteous but usually the person will speak with you right then or will offer a more convenient time to call back.

For example:
Hi Bob, Karen Connor with COATS Staffing Software”, do you have a second?

The client will say “yes” and listen or will say “not really”. If you hear “not really”, then respond with “when is a better time?” Always get a follow up time!

If you speak with the prospect and they are still thinking about your services, not sure about your service, or need more time, reiterate your top three points and ask them when a good time would be to follow up later. This places the decision back in the customers’ court and they love to be in charge.

Third, if you are leaving voice mail often, try instead to follow up with a fax or e-mail. Try a funny approach with cartoons and easy check off boxes that indicate where the customer stands in the decision process. Faxes allow the customer to respond quickly. This gives you a fast and honest answer – sometimes clients feel it is easier to put you off than to give it to you straight up. Faxes and e-mail take away the personalization and allow clients to let you know how they really feel.

Selling is not easy, but remember that you can keep it fun. It is hard to be constantly rejected or to be told to call later or even to be told NO! But remember they aren’t saying no to you they are saying no to your service or product. Remember when you are making calls that only three out of ten calls get answered; it’s not you, it’s statistics. Make an agreement with yourself that you will not become distracted with e-mails, office talk, or personal calls. Set a goal for a certain number of calls right in a row. Once you’ve reached your goal, award yourself with a peek at your e-mail. If you become consumed with distractions you can kill your sale and your drive to make the sale.

Finally, don’t be pushy. If the client says, NO, respect it. Everyone hates to be sold. Clients like to make their own decisions without being harassed. If you SELL the sale it can come back to haunt you. Let the client BUY your services and you can create a relationship that will last through stormy weather!

So put up your sales umbrella and keep it fun; the sun will soon come out again!

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