Are you a Shark or a Consultant?
In previous articles I’ve talked about marketing techniques for SMEs, but I have not talked about sales, the end and most important goal for the growth of any business.
Did you know that nowadays the word sales or salesman has a negative connotation for customers and businesses? Do you know why?
In the last 3 decades, businesses have abused consumers by deceiving them with the sole purpose of selling. The seller or sales agent is only the emissary or rather the mercenary; the growth of the business and its salary depends on this, which in most cases is based on commissions “the loot”.
To a certain extent this makes a lot of sense for any business since it minimizes the economic risk to the business owner and in turn maximizes the benefit to the seller based on their performance and skills.
Because there is an economic benefit that directly depends on the volume or quantity of sales, some sales agents "Sharks" use (unethical) tricks to "push" the product or service to the consumer.
The number one reason for which the word "seller" has degraded and has taken this negative connotation is because of this type of sales agents "Sharks" and the companies that incentivize or lead them to make sales under pressure, deceit and abuse of people with mental or physical disabilities, or seniors.
In fact, a few months ago in the province of Ontario, Canada, they prohibited door-to-door sales due to cases of abuse of disabled people. Here you can read a little more about this ban - Prohibition of door-to-door sales.
Some of the techniques that Sharks use are:
Price Deception: They mention a discount based on a higher list price, which is not real and it is used to only give the impression of a discount.
Bait-and-switch: When the business or seller promotes a product or service at a certain price or with certain characteristics to attract the attention of the consumer and when it shows interest, the cosumer is offer a more expensive or different product from the one originally offered arguing that the other one is no longer available.
False Claims: When the business or sales agent uses claims that are not real or false about the product or service. For example, they say that the product is organic when it is not.
Pressure and manipulation: When the seller uses pressure and manipulation techniques, where a no is not acceptable to the seller and doesn’t stop insisting until getting a yes.
Because of these "Sharks" we consumers have evolved. Before we were a naive consumer, misinformed and who trusted everything the sales agent told us since they were the experts on the subject. With access to the Internet where we can read and research before buying, see comments and experiences of other consumers and access similar businesses to compare offers we have become a more intelligent consumer.
Unfortunately, the "Sharks" and businesses that depend on this type of sales are still looking for ways to deceive us by also using the Internet. In some cases, they have created fictitious comments and reviews; they have more than one website but with a different name and design, and manipulate content on the Internet.
A true sales consultant is an expert who not only knows their product or service, but also knows how to identify the needs of its customers and analyzes whether if what they offer really benefits the client. These types of people have a genuine interest, are friendly and above all ethical.
Nowadays some companies, the most intelligent, have adopted a new sales trend, where the "seller" does not necessarily sell but rather gives support, service and advice to the customer.
Sales agents are now called advisors, consultants or happiness agents. Why? We have understood that clients have evolved. Now he is distrustful and makes informed decisions so pushing our products or services no matter how is a waste of time.
That is why a true consultant knows and applies the following techniques:
Benefit vs. Current situation: The vast majority of sellers have a binary vision, where they see only two possible alternatives for the client. They buy from you or from the competition, when in reality between 20% and 60% of the potential sales are lost due to lack of conviction or a decision from the client. Show your clients why your offer is good for them; what are the changes and benefits compared to their current situation STATUS QUO.
Your UNIQUE value: No product or service is trully 100% different. There are more similarities than differences in a ratio of 3 to 1. That is why you have to focus on what makes you unique, what is important for your customers and can be verifiable.
Before and after: Who doesn’t like stories? The best way to illustrate the benefit and the UNIQUE value is by telling a story. These stories should be based on facts, situations in which similar people to your client had the same challenges or frustrations and how they were improved and solved after buying your product or service.
Future vision: The client, being self-absorbed and having a short-sighted view of his current situation (personal or business) does not see the current changes and the changes to come that could bring a negative impact. They don’t visualize lost opportunities and they don’t knwo how to adapt to changes to thrive. That is why a consultant who understands the current and future situation could help the client adapt to these changes.
You can say NO: Sometimes the product or service that we offer to the client doesn’t have a real benefit or the benefit is minimal. If this is the case It’s better to be direct with the client and tell the truth "What I offer or sell has NO BENEFIT FOR YOU" and as much as possible advises on an alternative no matter if it’s our competitors. If you manage to do this, the client will see you as a person of trust.
The difference between both types of sellers is huge. The "Shark" does not require knowledge on what it sells and to understand the client needs. Its ONLY purpose is fast selling based on tricks. Instead a consultant knows what he sells, discovers the needs of his client, offers a viable solution and builds a long-term relationship of trust.