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A month or so back, I decided it was time to go shopping around for a new car. After only a few stops at different dealerships, I was already becoming frustrated with the whole process. It was not a lack of quality cars (of which there were plenty), but rather a lack of quality salesmanship.

After a quick meet-and-greet, each and every salesperson inquired as to how much I was willing to spend for what I wanted. This would not have been a problem, except for the fact that very few of them took the time to ask what I wanted before they asked what I would be willing to pay for it.

Most salespeople are trained to establish a prospective client’s budget before they proceed with the courting process. It makes sense. Why spend the time on a prospect who does not have the means to purchase the product?

When it came to buying a car, I had already worked out a price tag that would fit nicely into my budget, but I would have been flexible had someone shown me the right car. Most business owners are the same way. If you can establish that a product will benefit them in a way that exceeds the cost, they will most often find a way to pay for it.

Getting Your Foot in the Door

The hardest part for a salesperson comes during the initial contact with a prospective client. Let’s be honest, salespeople do not have the best of reputations, so you have a limited window to make a positive impression that will outweigh negative preconceptions.

Most of your customers are very busy, and they want you wasting as little of their time as possible. You should try to remember that their time is as precious as yours, and you will need to earn the opportunity for a consultation.

The best way to do this is to establish your expertise within the first couple of minutes of a conversation. If your client can quickly see that you understand their position and present a product valuable to their success, then they will most likely take the time to hear you out. If the client seems busy, don’t reinforce the stereotype of the pushy salesman. Arrange another time when they will have a chance to fully consider your offer.

Closing the Deal

Every successful salesperson knows that the best way to close a deal is to exceed the client’s expectations. This does not only mean the product needs to be better than the competitors’, but you as a salesperson have to be better.

Do not focus on the product itself, but rather how the product can improve their business in ways they would not anticipate. By creating a storyline of opportunity, the client can see their business growing or operating more efficiently.

For customers, it is always a matter of price vs. benefit, so take price out of the equation until you can show how them what your product can do for their business. By focusing on the results instead of the price, you show the customer that it is all about them, instead of you just trying to make a sale.

The other part of this is taking the time to understand your client. If you take the time to talk with your customer and get to know them and their business, you stand a much better chance of it ending in a sale. If you can build a relationship with your clients, then you may have a customer for life instead of just a onetime sale.