Closing The Sale VS. Opening The Sale
The MLM Difference!
by Michael L. Sheffield
CEO The Sheffield Group
As a member of a Direct Selling or Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) Company, I'm sure you believe in the products or services offered. You most likely use them in your own home and have recommended them to your friends and relatives who may have purchased them for their own use. In fact, you may have even sponsored these people into your business hoping that they would become an active business builder enhancing their own income while adding additional profits for you.
A good marketing company will have developed sales systems that will support your efforts as a retail sales person as well as provide a method for you to earn income on the sales efforts of those you have sponsored. So, whether you have just convinced your customer to purchase your product, or you are assisting one of your direct sales recruits get the customer to sign on the dotted line, you must use special techniques to bring closure to the buying decision. Fortunately, there has been much written by noted direct sales experts on time tested and proven concepts of "Closing the Sale". However, I'm going to focus on a few things that you may not see in the usual direct selling books, tapes or training program.
These include how to:
1. Build relationships
2. Earn trust
3. Determine the customer's hot buttons (wants, needs and values)
4. Create a compelling sales presentation
5. Deliver on your promise.
I would suggest that the term "Closing the Sale" that has been the topic of so many chapters in direct sales training manuals and books is only applicable when you are selling a non consumable product. Usually this term is directly tied to the "One Call Close". In my early days as a direct sales person selling products door to door, I was taught that you either "Close the Sale" or "Lose the Sale" on the first sales call. There was no thought of the long-term relationship with the customer. After the sales call, "Next" was the order of the day. But, if you are selling products or a service that is consumable creating the potential of an ongoing income stream, the term that seems more applicable is "Opening the Sale". Why? Because you are just beginning the relationship with the customer. If you are selling quality products, fairly priced and backed by great customer service, you can have an OPEN relationship with the customer for years to come. The wealthiest man I ever met told me that true wealth was not just having a lot of money but creating a never ending income stream. Today's best examples of companies offering the opportunity for long term income streams are the growing number of Multi-Level Marketing companies basing their future on a loyal and growing customer base. They offer nearly every imaginable consumable product or service. Sometimes known as relationship selling, the early selling strategies of new MLM sales recruits is usually focused on friends and relatives. These "warm market" sales prospects purchase under a very different decision making criteria than the "cold prospect" who is usually a stranger. First, you already have the advantage of trust. They know you would not intentionally misrepresent your product or opportunity. You use the product yourself and obviously believe in its benefits. Your testimonial alone may be enough to influence your friend to buy.
But, how do you open the selling relationship with a total stranger? What can you say that will cause them to part with their money? In professional sales circles, here is one of the oldest bits of humor. "When someone with experience meets someone with money, the person with experience gets the money and the person with the money gets the experience". Well, when it comes to making the sale, this perception is often not too far from reality. As a sales person, it is critical to understand that you want your customer to receives a positive experience, or it will probably be the last one they have with you.
Selling in today's environment is much different than in days past. The image of the cigar smoking used car salesman or the door-to-door high pressure vacuum salesperson may still haunt our chosen profession, but for the most part, today's salesperson is a professional, highly trained and knowledgeable individual. Today's sales person has learned that they must first give before they can expect to get in return. The professional salesperson becomes their customer's problem solver, and the more problems they can solve, the more chance they have of landing the customers business. The most popular term for this type of selling is "Consultative Selling". First coined by Mack Hanan in his book by the same name, it has changed the way customers look at sales people. This has changed the way sales trainers' view how they educate their sales trainees and most importantly, how the sales people see themselves. Consultative selling ask the question, "What are my customers needs and how can I deliver a satisfactory solution in a cost effective manner?" Accomplishing this task with your customer takes away all the normal sales resistance. So, in order to get that "Yes" answer you want when you ask for the sale, you must learn to ask the right questions.
Consultative selling is a drastic departure from the old approach of identifying product features but selling on the product benefits. The present and future professional salesperson will prepare to be an expert in their field and will be viewed by the customer as someone who brings solutions to problems. Certainly there are the impulse buyers who will buy anything once. They are the ones who experience what is called Buyers Remorse after they come out of the ether of an enthusiastic, motivational and possibly high-pressure sale pitch. You can't build trust and long-term relationships with this type of approach. When the customer sees great value in your advice and counsel, many of the normal buying objections go away.
When you view yourself as a salesperson, you always worry about how to close the sale. When you see yourself as a consultant, you open the opportunity to serve the customer's needs. Mack Hanan points out that salespeople operate in an adversarial environment. This becomes apparent as you look at the way that traditional sales training programs give significant attention to anticipating and overcoming objections. "Consultants anticipate cooperation. Let's review how changing your attitude regarding your own sales approach and self image can help you OPEN more selling opportunities than you ever thought possible
1. Salespeople are taught to be good listeners. Consultative sellers focus on asking the questions that identify customer problems solved by the product or service being offered.
2. Salespeople are concerned about their competition and position their sales presentation accordingly against the competition. Consultants frame their own competitive advantages so that selecting their product becomes an easy decision for the customer.
3. Salespeople are always concerned about their product price. Consultants are more interested in the value their product brings and how it enhances their customer's life.
4. Salespeople learn multiple methods to "Close the Sale". Consultants open a dialog that creates the atmosphere for customer self-selling.
I don't want to insinuate that time tested and proven selling techniques that have worked for you in the past should be abandoned. What I am suggesting is that you consider repackaging yourself. If you see yourself as a professional that can give valuable council to your customer, they will sense your commitment to bring value to the relationship. But, when they feel that you see them as someone who has your money in their pocket, the result is… No Sale Today.
Try these techniques. See yourself as a consultant and look for information or advice that will help your customer in a way that they will appreciate. They will honor your consultative selling approach by becoming your new customer, becoming your new distributor both.
Assuming that you have a wonderful product and your sales approach to your customer is equally wonderful, your customer is still bound to have objections. "Objections by a potential customer should be taken as a good sign" say Tom Hopkins, a nationally known sales trainer and author of How to Master the Art of Selling. "People only give objections if they're thinking about going ahead and a good salesperson can always handle objections." An objection should send you an immediate signal that the customer doesn't understand or wants more information before they make a decision. Look at these as potential buying signals. Dealing with objections in a positive manner will put you one step closer to the "Yes" you are seeking.
Michael L. Sheffield is the CEO of The Sheffield Group, a full-service direct sales and multi level marketing (MLM) consulting firm. He is a Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Multi Level Marketing International Association and in 2001 he was inducted into the MLMIA Hall of Fame. He and the Sheffield team have assisted in hundreds of national and international MLM corporate start-ups as well as offered a full line of services for established direct sales companies including consultation on MLM Website development. As the most noted expert on compensation plans, he has been a guest lecturer on the subject for the DSA, University of Illinois, University of Texas, Berkeley and Harvard Alumni Association. He has helped launch over 200 new products marketed by direct selling companies around the globe. He can be contacted at 480-968-6199, The Sheffield Group, 2239 N. Hayden Road, Suite 103, Scottsdale, AZ. 85257, website address: www.sheffieldnet.com.
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