Kampala, Uganda-A few days ago, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a Facebook message from a Ugandan friend and mentee. “You know,” she wrote. “I do a part-time business selling cosmetic products, but sometimes I have trouble convincing clients.”Today, I’ll share some tips to help this young lady—and all of you in sales—to be more successful.
B2B vs. B2C
When we sell a product directly to consumers, we call this business to consumer—or B2C—sales. When we sell a product to another business, we call this business to business—or B2B—sales. There are some key differences between B2B and B2C sales. These include:
- Longer sales cycle, often resulting in long-term repeat sales
- Higher price points
- Often requires long-term customer support and training
- Sales strategy focuses on financial benefits to business
- Often require very specific solutions to their needs
- Shorter sales cycle, often limited to a single purchase
- Lower price points
- Usually requires fewer customer support interactions
- Sales strategy focuses on emotional appeal and basic needs
- Often have several options to meet their needs
It is important to understand these differences, as they will influence marketing strategy, budgets, and messages.
Know Your Product
To sell a product or service successfully, you must first know all of the aspects of the product. This will allow you to clearly communicate the features and benefits, as well as answer customers’ questions thoroughly.
This is especially important for B2B sales. Remember, businesses tend to have specific needs that require unique solutions.
When selling to a business, you will often be asked detailed questions about the functionality and adaptability of your product or service.
It is vital that you know the answers to those questions, as well as their impact on the price.
Here are some questions you should be prepared to answer:
- What are the features of the product?
- What are the ingredients/materials used in this product, and how did you obtain them?
- Where was the item manufactured, and by whom? (Skilled technicians? Child labor?)
- What benefits does this product or service provide?
- How does it compare with other products on the market?
Know Your Company
Increasingly, both consumers and businesses are committing themselves to buying products from companies that are environmentally sustainable and socially responsible. You should be prepared to answer questions about the company, such as:
- Does your company have a corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme? If yes, elaborate on the programme’s involvement and results.
- Does your company have an environmental sustainability programme? If yes, elaborate on the programme’s components and results.
- How does your company ensure that its products/materials are conflict-free, free trade, environmentally friendly, etc.?
- How does your company ensure that its products are manufactured without child labor, human trafficking, or other poor treatment of workers?
- How does your company ensure that it adheres to legal and ethical standards?
- How sustainable is your company, in terms of years in business, available capital, litigation risks, executive leadership, employee qualifications, etc.?
Identify Demand & Target Market
As part of the marketing strategy, the company should have established a target market that wants or needs the product or service that you’re selling. This target market should also have enough money to purchase the product. Sometimes, however, the research is flawed, the target market’s needs change, or a competitor has a better product or service.
During the sales process, pay attention to the reasons that your targeted consumers or businesses decide not to make a purchase. Record these answers, and share them with the rest of your marketing and sales team. This can help to identify trends and the needs to make adjustments in your product lines, sales approach, target markets, and other aspects of marketing and sales.
Here are some common reasons that customers decide not to purchase your products or services:
- Poor quality
- Poor customer service
- Too expensive
- Competitor has better product or service
- Need another product or service more
- External influences and trends not associated with your company (economic crisis, technology developments, etc.)
Believe in the Product
If you don’t believe in your product, it will be more difficult to sell it. People will see your reluctance, and they will be less inclined to purchase the product.
As a salesperson, you have the ability—and responsibility—to promote products that are beneficial to your target market. In addition, if you have a personal interest or passion related to the product or industry, you will be more successful than selling something that is of no interest to you.
Features & Benefits
Many salespeople focus on the features of their products. Instead, focus on how it benefits the customer. Here’s an example related to my friend who sells cosmetics:
Feature: The cosmetics use only non-comedogenic ingredients that won’t block pores. Benefit: You won’t have to worry about getting more acne of your face when you use our products, as all of our ingredients are non-comedogenic. By focusing on the benefit that your product provides to the consumer, you are more likely to keep your audience interested in your sales presentation and increase sales by establishing the benefit of your product.
Practice Your Sales PitchIt is important to prepare your sales pitch. You have a limited amount of time to capture their attention and make a good impression. Take time to craft a compelling sales presentation supported by strong visual aids. Your presentation should be clear, specific, and focused on the benefits that the consumer will receive.
For sales presentations with at least four people, prepare a formal presentation. The presentation should include:
- Introduction—briefly addresses the points you will address
- Body—Explains the points in greater depth
- Conclusion—Summarizes the points you’ve discussed
- Call to Action—Asks the audience to take action and buy your product
For smaller groups, a conversational approach is better. However, it is still important to prepare your statements; you want to deliver information that is clear, specific, and benefits-focused. Consider creating visual aids and loading them onto a laptop; they may help you to explain certain aspects of your product or service.
Remember that the goal of your presentation is to persuade your audience to buy your product. This is not a lecture; your goal is to conclude with a sales agreement. For B2C sales, this can often be achieved in a single discussion. For B2B sales, additional conversations and presentations will likely be required.
Hope Wilson, CPSM, is president of Wilson Business Growth Consultants, a firm that provides international business strategy and communications services. Specializing in infrastructure development, Hope has received 12 international awards for her work. Have a question about marketing? Email: [email protected]