Why Listen to me?
Well I’ve worked in Direct Sales for 5.5 years in a niche market (Piano Sales / NYC). I closed over $600,000 in Sales on a part time basis selling a high ticket commodity to a niche market. Pianos are a want, not a need, you have to really be able to sell and close with a customer in a showroom as these instruments are between $4000-$90,000.
I’ve learned many techniques from other salesmen, every sale I closed, and each unique customer over the years. This is my view on the Art of Sales and How to Sell and Close in a Niche.
Does this Article Apply to what you are Selling?
If you sell a product or service on the floor or directly (aka Floor or Door-to-Door or Direct Selling) you have to procure your own leads or rely on a third party, and you have to demonstrate and close a deal in person (note : this can include video/screen-share calls) then the rest of this post applies to you. This can apply to Car Sales, Mattress, Boat, Art Sales, Watch Sales, etc. Pretty much any commodity that’s a want, not a need, that costs a few paychecks.
Also, If you find this article useful, please consider sharing to other salespeople or entrepreneurs! 🙂 This article is long so here is a table of contents :
–Know Your Product
–Opening Dialogue and Interaction
–Presenting the Options
–Always be Closing!
–Pushback and Pitch Pivot
–Always be Closing! (Again)
–Followup and Referrals
–Find your Leads
Know your Product or Service
First, you absolutely need to have foundational knowledge of your product or service.
- Know the History, Specs, and Evolution. Learn its Intent & Function.
- If possible, Be a user of the Product or Service. You gain the customers point of view & can relate to their feedback (this is important in building trust)
- Understand Why it is used, Who uses it and Where it can be used (this defines your target market)
- Know your competition & what makes you or your product/service different.
Opening Dialogue (First Impression)
Lets also assume you have procured a lead and they just walked in the door. (I’ll use the narrative of a Piano Sale as that is my background) in walks a customer named Bob who made a general appointment to see some Pianos.
First Greeting : “Good morning/afternoon Bob, How are you today? How might I be of service?” Depending on their response, you may go in several directions. Lets assume they respond with an interest in what you are selling (If they don’t seem receptive, they may need more time to browse.)
Introduce Yourself and Them : “My Name is X, Welcome to XYZ. This floor has XYZ and we have more XYZ in the other floors.” Make sure to acknowledge their name and keep it in your head and speech when referring to them. Give a brief narrative about what your shop does and associate yourself with reputable clients, strong history, and something unique (like the type of building you’re in or something about yourself) to keep them interested.
Customer Profiling and Direction
Now we begin the next step, figuring out what hes looking for while simultaneously profiling him to what you can match him to.
“Bob, Are you looking for a Digital, Upright, or Grand Piano?”
Reasoning : Each type of piano has drastically different price points (entry tier, intermediate tier, professional/luxury tier). Always try to Present 3 options in these price tiers to see where they focus, this will hint at their budget.
“Do you have an existing Piano?”
Reasoning : This gives their preference and a guide to providing a complimentary option if they are brand loyal.
“Do you play, or is it for your child? Do you have a time-frame on when you need one?”
Reasoning : This profiles who the buyer is. Is Bob a musician? Or is Bob a father who is making the decision for his child? Your subsequent responses and conservation must align with the thought process and preferences of who he is. For example, if he is just buying as an investment for his child, mention the low depreciation, post sales support, etc. If he is a musician, mention the tonality, resonance and durability.
If he is not receptive at the opening dialogue, this may be because of his personality/mood. Let him browse! Don’t get angry or offended. Ask “Have you seen anything that you like?” or “We have an amazing XYZ that I’m now putting on the floor”.
Profiling can also mean looking at what they wear, what they drive before they come in, this is income profiling. You should find their LinkedIn/Social to understand their job and interests if you have time to prep before the appointment. Note : Use caution in visual profiling as it can be pretty unreliable, stick to obvious markers/indicators when you do.
Presenting the Options
Lets assume Bob says the Piano is for him, and he is a jazz player. I would then ask : “What kind of sound and key touch do you prefer?”, “What Size of Piano can you fit?”, ” In What finish?”, “What brands have you tried/like?” Before presenting options ask as many clarifying questions as you can. Each question is an iterative loop to steer you to his ideal product. Lets look at why I ask these in more detail :
What kind of Sound and Key touch do you prefer?
-In Pianos this is the main differentiation between brands, quality, design. This will guide you to a Yamaha Upright for example if he likes a clear tone and medium weight touch.
What Size are you looking for? What Finish?
-Size of the instrument means more volume, but always more money. It’s the same case with exotic finishes. Make sure they understand that before asking this. This hints at their range in budget.
What other Brands have you tried or like?
-You can easily show similar models if you have in stock. If you understand the main features of the brand they mention, introduce comparable products your are most familiar with.
If he says “I’m not sure” to any question this is your chance to steer him to the product you sell best. You, as a Salesperson needs to know which product meets their needs or solves their problem as each question should uncover their want, their need, their budget, their expectation, and their timeline. Also its very important to not present too many options, try to stay at 3 or under.
Once you have a sense of their typical use case. Show them the product to impress them with how it goes above and beyond the scenario. For example, if Bob is a Jazz Player and we are at a Yamaha Piano, I would demo with a Jazz standard to really show off the key action with Music he is familiar with. Also, reveal any lesser known features that would benefit them on the product or service. Show why this feature is better than the competition. Connect this with value either on the price (if its a higher premium for that feature) or why this is unique to the product.
Attempting the Close
Now lets focus on how to sell and close. If you have them at a point where they are really enthusiastic, receptive, and you have bonded well. If they ask about warranty, delivery, support/service, then you are at this point. Now, Attempt to Close the Sale. List the full price, options, amenities and simply ask if they would like to purchase.
“Just to recap, this product is X and includes Y, your final total would be $, Would you want delivery at <date>? If so, I can write your contract within a few minutes and we can have it filed for delivery today”
If your lucky, you wont have to do this. They may simply say “I’ll go with this one, do you take AMEX?” This should be your goal.
Handling PushBack and Pivoting your Pitch
At this point, they either close or they push back. Here’s some common issues, and how to sell and close with these objections.
“I need to have my friend try it out, he is the expert in these and I trust him”
Pivot : No worries, can we give him a video call to show him some of the new lines we saw today? I can also extend the discounts i gave you to him.
Reasoning : He wants validation, attempt to get this now. Offer an incentive to the validating party to add an additional sale.
“Sorry, I need to discuss this with my spouse”
Pivot : “This is understandable, I can give you some privacy if you would like to discuss.”
Reasoning : Walk away, they may want to say things in private before making a decision, give them space to do so. However, if you think they will still want your attention keep them there and offer more assistance to help make a decision. This is the most common objection from a customer and the hardest to interpret.
“This is out of my budget” or “This is too much money!”
Pivot : “No worries, I have some options for you. What is a range you are comfortable with?“
Reasoning : Let them bring up the number, you know the margin, not them. If they low-ball, you need to reiterate the value. If they go lower, show them a lesser option that still fulfill their needs. Offer alternative funding (financing, rent to buy etc)
“Eh, I can get this product for XYZ at ZYX”
Pivot : “I understand but let me explain why we are different and why you are getting more value here.“
Reasoning : You should mention specific benefits (lifetime programs, amenities unique to your business, service/reputation etc) to justify the price and value. If they are bluffing (for example if you have full dealership for the region) mention that this is likely improbable or that product may be veiled as something it is not.
Attempting to Close (Again)
You can re-try the close now in a few ways. Use these per your judgement and with prudence. With some client personalities it can diminish the rapport you’ve built. Let them go, keep the contact, then followup.
–Positive Alternative Choice : Give a choice to them where either option leads to a close. For example “Would you want delivery on a Sat or Weds?” or “Would you like to finance, or pay in cash?”
–Ben Franklin Close : On a paper, write the reasons they should buy, and the reasons they shouldn’t. Tabulate to show a clear decision, hopefully you have more pros listed than cons at this point 🙂 this style was made famous by Benjamin Franklin.
–Logic Match Close : “If I can do XYZ, would you buy today? I can make a call to confirm if it’s possible” This asks them to decide on what you think is the last blocker to close the deal, be it the price, color, timeline etc. If they give an answer, do a phone call (can be real or fake) to give the impression you are validating yourself and giving a unique deal. It’s also important to remain quiet after you ask the initial match question, so they respond. Many salesmen never give the customer a chance to respond. At this point your energy should be subdued.
Last Resort Close : If all fails, say something like this, “I’m sorry we couldn’t make a deal, I know this is the best value and product in the industry, what did I fail to cover?” If they answer, you are back in the dance to try any of the closes I mentioned above. Sometimes it’s fine to let them go if you know they will still be in the market and what you offer cannot be duplicated without a doubt. Remember it isn’t easy to sell and close on everyone.
Followups and Referrals
Congrats! You mastered how to sell and close. You made the sale, you got paid and you’ve forgotten about the customer. This is all and well except that last part.
Remember, they came in and you were a stranger, but you built a rapport and relationship to a point that they were able to part with their cash to buy what you are selling. Because of this, you impressed them. You can send an email to them to followup on everything, make sure they are satisfied with the product or service.
Finally, use this as an opportunity to get referrals from people they know in their industry, offer a commission or referral fee to give them motivation to do this for you.
This will build a network of referrals and a conduit for future sales and the success of your business or venture! This point recapitulates the Art of Sales, and How you Sell and Close in your niche!
Bonus : How to Find Leads and Get your Customer in the Door!
Now that you know how your going to sell. Lets get them on front of you so you can present a pitch.
You have a Storefront: Keep it simple, You can put a sign outside on the street drawing their eyes to the sign and a message enticing them to come in. You can be creative as well, if you have a bakery for example, then pipe the air from the ovens out the front when you are baking something strong.
You sell a Service/Trade : Go Door To Door. This is hard, I wont lie. You will get rejected, however keep it friendly, be passive, make conversation and be succinct. Make sure to walk around in your branding/uniform if possible. If you happen to sell something that can be demonstrated, set up a stand in a crowded public place. If you close a sale, ask if they know anyone on the block who they can refer (offer an incentive or discount if you do)
If you are looking for leads online : Check every Wanted Ad and Consumer Section in Forums, Craigslist, Quora, Facebook Groups, etc. You can also buy traffic from Google to your website or store via Ads, however I only recommend doing this with prior sales to cycle cash. Try a viral marketing campaign via Social Media, offer your service/product for free to a person with a large following that is your target market demographic.
Happy Selling! If this helped you in any way, please consider sharing! If you have feedback please comment or email at [email protected] I’ll update this post with new ideas on how to sell and close.