EFFECTIVE SELLING CONVERSATIONS FOR CRAFT SHOWS PT. 2
In the previous post I promised we would dive deeper into the eight elements of the selling process.
Here we go:
Fundamental Selling Process
1. TYPE OF CUSTOMER
Finding out ahead of the show which type(s) of customers will visit the show helps you to shape your selling discussion. For example, customer type can be affected by where the show is held. If your show is in a rural area the pace of the show is probably slower than in a larger city. Visitors at a rural show may appreciate small talk and chit chat more so than time-starved consumers at an urban show. Often, visitors at rural shows also have a more modest spending budget. Apart from selecting more moderately priced items for the show, you might also consider preparing yourself particularly well for emphasising the value of your products in your selling conversations.
The two most important collections of words are your value proposition and your short pitch (elevator pitch). They should flow from your lips with ease and aplomb. Another valuable set of words are the benefits that your product offers.
3. STARTING THE CONVERSATION
There is one simple rule for starting the conversations and that is to avoid any question or phrase that can be answered with a short “no” or “yes”. For example, instead of asking, “Are you enjoying the show?”, a vendor could say “How are you enjoying the show?” Other good openers are:
- “What brings you here today?”
- “What brings you to my table / booth?”
- “How do you like the show so far?
- “What you are looking for?”
- “What kind of _____ (your product category here) do you usually use/wear/give as a present?”
- “How do you like the show so far?
4. FIND THE CUSTOMER NEED
Identifying what the customer is looking for should not become an interrogation process. A few well placed questions will suffice. And, of course, make sure you listen well and move the discussion forward from the answer the customer gives you.
- “What specifically are you looking for?
- “Where/How/When would you use ___________ (your product category here)?”
- “Which items in the booth have caught your eye?”
- “What features are most important to you?”
If you find the response(s) to your question(s) is insufficient for guiding the customer to the right product, it is often most effective to simply say “Can you please elaborate a little bit on what you mean?”
A feature is something that your product has or is, whereas a benefit is the outcome that buyers will experience by using or having your product. Benefits answer the buyer’s question “What’s in it for me?” For example, if you are selling pottery that is dishwasher safe, the benefit is that it is more convenient for the buyer. They don’t need to worry about cleaning your piece(s) by hand.
Eminent marketing guru Seth Godin takes the fear out of dealing with objections:
“Objections, then, are a truly productive way for a salesperson and a potential customer to interact [...]. An objection is an invitation, a request for help in solving a problem”
In other words, an objection is an opportunity to sell. It shows the customer is engaged and interested in your product.
The key to dealing with a road block to a sale is to clearly identify its nature. Take the time to listen to the objection fully. Avoid jumping in or being defensive. Then ask a couple of “what” or “why” questions to clarify the potential buyer’s concern. After that, respond – with empathy.
7. CONFIRM THE SALE
Confirming the sale is traditionally called “closing”, or getting the commitment to buy. If you have successfully connected the benefits of your product to the customer’s interest you often do not have to close. The customer will simply say “OK, I take it”. On other occasions a customer will need some gentle encouragement. You can use phrases like:
“It seems like _________(your product) is a good fit for what you are looking for.”
“This might be the best choice to suit your needs, what do you think?”
“Taking all of your requirements into consideration, perhaps these two products would work best for you.”
“You are the first person to buy this item today. May I put it in a bag for you?”
8. AFTER THE SALE
Pro-vendors will do a quick post-sale analysis asking themselves three questions:
- What worked well?
- What did not work?
- How can I change or eliminate what did not work?
If you have time, capture your thoughts in a few words on your mobile device or a notebook. Over time you will create a treasure trove of ideas and reminders of how to sell more and better.
In summary, selling is based on a well established framework. It requires preparation and practice and can be learned by any maker. It is about working with a customer, identifying their need(s) and connecting them with the benefits of your product.