I seem to be running into several small businesses here in town who have very obvious sales processes in place. By obvious I mean that it’s almost impossible to get out the door without one or more staff members forcing some new product or service down my throat.
Don’t get me wrong. I firmly believe that every business owner needs to have consistent sales process in place if you want to stay open. Your staff should be trained on how to approach your customers with the products and services your business has to offer.
However, if the sales process is obvious to the point of pressure for your staff or if it begins to feel pushy to your customer, you’ve got a problem.
Why? Because, at the very least, your sales approach can work against your brand. Worse yet, it will cost you money because you will lose good employees who can’t meet your sales quota. And, you will lose qualified buyers who are already committed to what you have to offer.
Bottom line: Not all customers are the same, so your sales process should be responsive and flexible.
Here’s an example of what I mean.
If I’m heading to the local spa for a massage or to a chiropractor for an adjustment, I’m expecting to experience a brand that supports customer service, wellness, and relaxation. Does it make sense, then, to have someone at the front desk pressure me, in very overt ways, to schedule my next appointment or buy an armful of product?
There is a time and place to offer the next service or the most supporting product, but it’s important to understand two very important elements before you pressure every single member of your team to shift into sales mode.
1. Know Which Employees are Wired for Sales
As the owner of the business it’s your job to know who is best suited for sales. When someone on your team is not skilled or wired for sales, they are obviously quite uncomfortable in the exchange. This puts both your customer and your employee in an awkward position.
What it tells me is that the owner is more interested in forcing a sales quota than they are in serving me. My first impulse is to go elsewhere. I simply don’t want to be in a high pressure environment where someone is repeatedly asking me to commit to something that I’m not either ready for or interested in.
In short, your process should include some discussion with every team member on how to make the offering without being pushy. Sales goals are motivating; sales quotas are not. Consider designing a process that empowers your team to offer supporting products and services in ways that align with who they are and the role they play within your company.
It can be as simple as a massage therapist being the one to suggest another massage in one week whereas the receptionist simply asks the question, “Are you interested in any specific products to complement your service today?”
No pressure. Just a simple, meaningful exchange between staff and customer.
A sales process that creates pressure for staff results in high turnover of employees. And, this, my fellow entrepreneur, is costing you significant dollars whether you realize it or not.
2. Know Which Customers are Qualified Buyers
I am a qualified buyer. What this means is that if I enter your place of business, I have the financial means to be there, and I am interested in your products and services. The way your team would know that I’m a qualified buyer is because I would ask questions about your offerings. I would indicate interest in how you might serve me best.
Qualified buyers want information, but they also want the buying choice to be their own. Pressure them, and they will go elsewhere. Low customer retention also costs you money.
Similarly, not every customer is a qualified buyer. Some are intermittent buyers. They may come into your business out of necessity and never return. Or, they may come in and out depending on their needs. These buyers may require more finesse or a gentle nudge to continue accessing your services. Chase them too hard, however, and they, too, will be gone.
The point is this. A sales process is an important component to any business. But, rather than inflict a sales quota on your team that is restrictive to both them and your customer, how about designing a sales process that allows for flexibility?
Such a sales process can still include sales goals, but it also requires that both you and your team learn how to read your customers better in an effort to more effectively meet their needs.
It’s called building a relationship. And, when you establish a relationship with your client or customer, they will return again and again because you have established trust and loyalty.
As a customer, I’m much more likely to schedule my next appointment with someone I value and trust than I am with someone at the front desk who has obviously been told to meet a sales quota.
Stay tuned for Friday’s post where I’ll be offering ways to examine your sales process. Even if you’re meeting your sales goals, you’ll want to learn how to kick it up a notch.
If you have a specific sales approach that works, I’d love to hear about it. I invite you to leave a comment below.