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Stop Sabotaging the Sales Experience

Aug 17, 2007
As business owners, we all want to have a successful sales experience with our customers. But sometimes we tend to sabotage that effort, because we try too hard to sell (both on our website and in person). Do you recognize yourself in the following scenarios?

*At a networking meeting, you talk too much about your business.

*When you are meeting with a client or prospective client you do all the talking.

*Rather than listening to what customers have to say, you are busy thinking about how you're going to sell them something.

Have a Conversation
Selling is all about communication, and in order to communicate we need to take turns talking and listening. Unfortunately, when some people get in the "sales mode" they forget about the listening aspect of conversation and they do all the talking. In their excitement to sell you on their product or service the conversation becomes a one-way street.

Rather than trying to sell somebody something, take the time to find out a little bit about them and their business. Ask probing questions that give you an idea of what kind of problems or concerns they have regarding their business. Only by asking questions can you discover whether they have a need for your product or service. And try to use the 30/70 rule when you are networking; listen for 70% of the time and talk for 30% of the time.

People appreciate the opportunity to talk about their business and talk about some of the challenges that they might be having in their business. You may not be able to solve the problems for them, but at least you are being courteous enough to listen.

Speak to Your Customer
Some of these same ideas about selling and listening can be applied to the content of a website. It may seem strange to think about a website as a way to converse with your customer, but it's true. A website is actually your best salesperson. If you think of your website as a salesperson, then the content you create for it needs to speak directly to your ideal customer.

Notice that I said "speak" rather than "sell." Don't think of your website as just a sales tool, think of your website as the starting point of a conversation between you and your potential customer. You want every website visitor to feel comfortable navigating throughout your website. Your headlines should ask questions that gently probe for answers. Let them know that you understand the problems or challenges that they are experiencing and that you have a solution to their problems.

Instead of trying to sell something, offer your product or service as a solution to their problems. After all, most people are looking for information when they come to a website. Take the time to give them information that would help them in their buying decision. They may not need your product or service right now, but they certainly could come back later to make a purchase.

Years ago I was driving a car that had very squeaky brakes. I was worried that I couldn't afford the cost of new brakes. Nevertheless, I went to a popular auto repair place, and they put my car up on the hoist and took a look at the brakes. I was ready for bad news, but instead, the mechanic said my brakes were fine. Of course I was delighted with his diagnostic abilities, but I was even more impressed with his honesty. He could have easily had told me that I needed new brakes and I would have believed him. Yet he chose to let me drive away without giving him any money.

Today I realize that not only was he an honest man, but he was also a very smart businessman. I was so impressed that he didn't try to sell me something I didn't need that I told all my friends about this auto mechanic. He may not have made a sale with me that day, but he made many future sales with the people that I sent to him in the months that followed.

Make it your goal to create an honest website that truly listens to your customers. Don't be too concerned about whether you are making a sale whenever anyone visits your website for the first time. Instead, focus on building a relationship with your potential customers and making them feel comfortable doing business with you. You want repeat visits and you want your customers to send their friends to your website.
About the Author
Michelle Howe, MBA, is an expert in online copywriting and author of the popular book, Turn Browsers into Buyers. Visit her website at http://www.InternetWordMagic.com for the FREE report, "Five Steps to Article Success."
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