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Sales Tips for Small Business Owner

# People buy based on emotion more often than reason. They purchase what they want, not necessarily what they need. First impressions are crucial, so your initial approach must establish a professional image. You have 5 seconds.

# People will buy from someone they trust. Your credibility must be evident, and how you open after those critical first 5 seconds will often determine your success. Do not try a hard sell up front. Avoid talking about the weather, current events, or the latest joke. It is time to listen. A brief introduction is usually enough which gives the prospect a chance to explain their business and situation.

# People are not looking just at you. What you have, what it does, and how it will help doesn’t matter until you understand fully what they want. If you start out with an open ended question, you show respect for the buyer’s time, and a willingness to listen. Any question that may be answered “yes” or “no” won’t work. Open ended means you begin by asking or stating something like “Please take a moment to explain your business and a few details about what you need.”

# People will open up if given a chance. Do not dominate the conversation until you understand what they want. Be prepared to paraphrase what you hear, and then offer your solution. Your message needs to be direct and to the point to establish the benefits of what you offer. Anything that you can do to create a mental image of your solution and the benefits to the customer shows you care more about them than the sale.

# People are usually sold before you ask for the order. Many are presold in those first 5 seconds explained in Tip #1. If you listen first, restate what they have said, and then explain your solution in terms of the benefits, it’s time to ask for the order. A small business owner may not be comfortable here. My advice is simply state “I want to do business with you. From what I have learned, I’m ready to help, so let’s get started today.”

# People will forgive mistakes if you remain honest. Establish trust, and openly admit errors if mistakes are made, and your customers are more likely to remain loyal. Have a plan when things go wrong. React quickly and state what happened, what you are doing to resolve any problems, and how long it will take. How you handle mistakes will be remembered by your customers a lot longer than what went wrong.

# People will not forgive a dishonest salesperson. A sale is not about tricking someone into something they don’t want or need. This is an important and tough rule: Be prepared to refuse an order if you realize your solution just won’t work. In any sales situation if you perceive an opportunity to sell, but doubt the results of your product or service, consider your long term reputation. Credibility lost is nearly impossible to regain, so give your customers the truth up front.