You've got a great
product (or service). You've sent out fliers and brochures,
networked with your local Chamber of Commerce and secured
a great spot in the new Yellow Pages. No one's buying.
What's wrong? There are many reasons why customers may
not be flocking to your store (or web site). Here are
seven fundamental ones to consider.
In today's age of fast food and high-speed internet
connections, people want instant gratification. If your
sales process is not hassle-free, many customers will
a) Do you
offer multiple payment options?
b) If you have a website, is it easy to navigate?
Do the pages load quickly? Studies indicate web visitors
will move on if they don't find what they are looking
for in the first 20 seconds. Similarly, is your physical
storefront easy to find?
c) Do you provide adequate customer service? Can
your customers reach a sales representative when they
need one? Do you provide enough product information for
your customers to make intelligent decisions?
d) Are your hours convenient for your customer?
2. Customer Doesn't
Need or Want What You're Selling
may feel like he or she doesn't need or want your product.
Your job as a salesperson is to convince them otherwise.
Rather than focusing on a product's features, show your
customer the benefits - your product will save them time,
will save them money, will make their home more comfortable,
etc. Paint them a picture with words like "imagine"
and "wouldn't it be nice if..." Encourage them
to visualize the benefits: "How do you feel this
product would help you?"
3. Customer Doesn't
Understand What You're Selling
If your product
or service is relatively new, you may have to sell the
concept before you can sell the item. Take virtual assistant
services, for example. Two years ago, no one had ever
heard of a virtual assistant, much less knew what one
did. Through a number of trade organizations, though,
the word has gotten out and the public has been educated.
Now, virtual assistance is the 7th fastest growing industry
in America, according to a Mitsubishi Research Institute
study (Sep, 2000). People once had no idea that they could
find remote, independent contractors to assist them with
their businesses; now that they are aware of the benefits,
they are actively searching for virtual assistants.
4. Customer Doesn't
good customer relationship can, in many cases, overcome
some of these other selling obstacles. Do your customers
trust you? Do they feel they know you well enough to do
business with you? Consider these questions:
a) Do you follow through on promises (e.g., delivery
dates, technical support, warranties and returns)?
b) Are you viewed as an expert in your field? If
not, try writing articles for publication, or presenting
workshops. Join online discussion groups and offer advice
in your area of expertise.
c) If you have a web presence, does your site list
a physical address, or a P.O. box? (Physical addresses
generate more trust.)
d) Are you active (and therefore visible) in the
e) Are online purchases conducted over a secure
server? Is this evident to the customer?
g) Do you have a money-back guarantee?
5. Perceived Poor
comes to selling (as with most of life), perception is
reality. If a customer believes your product is inferior,
it might as well be. Turn that perception around! Demonstrate
your product so your customer can see it with his own
eyes. Provide samples that they can touch, hear, see.
6. Perceived Poor
Are your competitors "giving it away?" If
so, stress to your customers why they should pay for your
product. What are you offering that your competitor isn't?
Customer service? Warranties? Quality? Technical support?
7. Failing to
Ask For the Sale
assume that just because you've covered 1-6, that the
sale is yours. Remember to ask for it! Do your marketing
materials contain a clear call to action? Example: "Call
now to reserve yours!" or "Order today!"
No, following all
of these suggestions won't close every sale, but knowing
why some sales fall through may help you get a jump on
the competition. Good luck!
the Authour:Kelly Cullison is a Birmingham,
AL-based virtual assistant and the founder of Atlas
Virtual Services. Atlas provides a wide range of
administrative support for small businesses so entrepreneurs
can focus on the core functions of running their
businesses. Visit Atlas at http://www.atlasvs.com,
or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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