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written by
Steven Pun

Steven Pun's small business selling guide: Part 2

Business owners sitting outside a shop with a sale sign in the window

In Part 1 of this series, I covered sales scripts and why small businesses need one. In this second instalment of my small business selling guide, I want to share a secret with you: the secret to selling.

My sales team and I at XLN speak to thousands of UK small business owners every week. And what we hear, week in, week out, is that times are hard and sales just are not as strong as they used to be. It’s the same in Manchester, Belfast, Glasgow, Cardiff, everywhere.

Selling smart

Things are more difficult for independent retailers today, I won’t deny that. One of the most difficult challenges businesses are facing on high streets everywhere is that everyone is shopping online now – even your Nan has an Amazon Prime account. But I don’t accept that online shopping means the end for small businesses. We just need to change the way we sell what we’re selling.  

More specifically, small business owners need to stop selling their products and services and start selling their values.

Values-based selling

It sounds stupid, I know, but it’s true. When sales are slumping, the knee jerk reaction is to ram enticing price messages down the throat of the customer. This is wrong. The internet has made it near impossible for small businesses to compete on price – so why waste your breath? You need to show the customer what your business has to offer that the faceless e-commerce brands don’t.

So the next time a potential customer comes through your door, remember these two simple steps:

  1. Don’t dive straight in

    From my experience of visiting small businesses, when a potential new customer wanders in and begins to browse, someone will jump right in and ask what the person is looking for, or whether they need help with something.

    It makes me cringe every time. Instead, try asking them how they are. Enquire about how their morning is going, or better still, come right out and ask them if they’d like to hear about the brand and why you’re here, what the business stands for, what its story is.

    Do anything but dive straight into a conversation about the products or services you’re selling. One thing I always tell my sales agents here at XLN is that customers have a keen sense of smell. If a prospect gets even just a whiff of desperation from you, they’ll be headed for the door before you’ve even stepped out from behind your till.

    When you go looking for a sale the second they walk through the door you’ll give the impression that they’re the first customer you’ve had in weeks. Take time to open a conversation with the customer and then employ Step 2.

  2. Let the customer tell you the value (instead of you telling them)

    Assuming you’ve followed Step 1, this second step should be easy.

    If you begin to tell the customer about the value of a product or a service, instead of letting them tell you what’s important to them then you risk barking up the wrong tree.

    When we let the customer take the wheel they more confident about the purchasing decision later on. They will know that what you have sold them was sold to them based on the specifications that they themselves gave you. When you try to guess what is of value in a product or service to the customer then you’re putting words in their mouth.

    A good sales pitch is a silent one. Listen to what the customer has to say and you’ll start to see results right away.

Good luck

So remember – sell your values before your products and listen before you try to second-guess. Values-based selling can be applied to any business type and you can start using it straight away.

Good luck! And watch this space – Part 3 to this small business selling guide is coming soon.

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