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Are you a good salesperson?

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A lot has been written about what being a good salesperson means in general terms. But this time, I would like to use a particular example that I have come across when selecting a provider for my new kitchen.

We went to look at options to receive quotes from several kitchen providers. At one of the large companies we visited, the salesperson was clearly more interested in selling the units and getting their commission than in delivering true value to us as clients. Nothing was measured properly and the kitchen design was constructed based on standard units without extra thought going into the best possible positioning of appliances, colours of worktops and cabinets. Throughout the whole appointment, the salesperson kept mentioning pricing and how professional the company is (and how that justified them charging these particular prices) leading us to the conclusion that the salesperson was interested only in making the sale.

The total time of the appointment for something so expensive as a new kitchen was just under an hour. At the end, we were provided with a quote, which included a number of handwritten “extra discounts” (ranging from 10 to 20%). We had no idea and were not explained where these discounts came from so it appeared that they were made up there and then for the purpose of closing the sale and appearing benevolent to us by providing these made up discount values. Needless to say, we didn’t go for this kitchen brand (although the price could have been acceptable).

The other provider we worked with behaved completely differently. The designer/salesperson came out to our house (even though normally customers go to the company’s premises). He measured everything carefully, spent 3 hours advising us and designing the kitchen on computer and followed up straight away. There was a mention of a discount towards the end of the conversation but we felt no pressure to close the deal there and then (which is critical for the purchase of luxury high value items). The next day, he forwarded the designs and quote applying the initial discount if closed by a certain day. As a result, they are still in the running for our kitchen as we feel we can work with them and there is a potential to negotiate further.

So the key lessons from these very different examples are:

  1. Aim to add real value to a customer by demonstrating your expertise and knowledge in the field you are operating
  2. Avoid the hard sell – expertise is what sells
  3. Try not to construct imaginary discounts as you go. It is much better to provide one after the meeting and then be open to further negotiations
  4. Follow-up and invest your time to close that sale (especially if you are selling high-ticket items)
  5. Be prepared to re-do the proposal you have initially developed several times if the customer has changed their mind and needs some amendments to be included
  6. Keep a positive attitude and smile (in person, on the phone and via email). Nothing sells better than a likeable person

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