Simple Sales Tips

Most craftsmen are not natural sales people – the two are generally not compatible. Having studied a trade or a craft, perfecting skills and honing talent, once you decide to go it alone you realise it is not just about delivering a great product and/or service. You now have to find sales, marketing and book/recordkeeping skills as well.

The first thing you need are orders, so Guild News takes a look at some sales do’s and don’ts.

Remember, with any prospective customer, what they want is for you to help them. They want you, or someone like you, to do something for them and they want you to understand their need and provide a solution to it. They may have done some research, and they may have talked to someone else before you, but people buy from people.

So the first thing to do is try and communicate your ability to do what they want, initially by listening to them so that you understand their needs and then by reassuring them that you are capable of doing it for them.

The first ‘do’ after listening is to summarise the requirements of the job back to them. However succinct, or indeed rambling, they have been, it never does any harm to get the parameters clear right from the get go. Then you are in a position to ask a few questions yourself, to investigate their budget for the job, their timescale and to make some tentative suggestions around their ideas.

The first ‘don’t’ is do not go into sales mode. No one really likes to be sold to and it can put people off. Lay out options at this stage by asking open questions. You are going to quote, so concentrate on the information you need to produce your quotation and highlight the variables. Ask open, expansive questions which raise the issues you want to discuss, which makes them do your selling for you. (You want a door opening onto your patio but have you thought of bi-folds to give you extra space?)

The second ‘do’ is be clear about what you can do and when. For instance, you say you will produce a written quotation in 48 hours…only say that if you are sure you can do it. Better to say three days than be a day late.

Which leads to the second ‘don’t’. Never over promise. Nothing sows doubt about you faster than not doing what you say by when you said you would do it. Clarity and hitting deadlines says a lot about you, before you even give a price. If you were not busy, any reasonable prospect would wonder why. So if you explain why it will take you three days, they are more likely to be reassured than put off and be happy to wait.

The sales process is essentially simple. Discover what needs to be done and agree a specification and then a price. For anyone selling their skills, it is important to radiate confidence and offer reassurance wherever possible. Give people reasons to say yes rather than no. Talk about previous jobs, mention that you are members of The Guild, and mention your qualifications.

The final ‘do’ is do make sure you are quoting like for like. If your potential customer is getting other prices, make sure you are quoting for the same things. No point in you quoting for top of the range products if you know a particular competitor will go down the cut price route.

If you have discussed options with your prospect, quote options. ‘Don’t’ leave any suggestions till later because you might lose the job before you get a chance to discuss them. Yes people have a budget but they are also aspirational, and by showing that you are thinking their problem through and giving them alternatives, you give yourself the best chance of getting to the next stage.

The hardest part, and the bit that most people find nerve-racking, is asking for the order. The irony is that the two most important parts of any sale are the bits most people disregard – listening to what the customer wants and then asking for the work. By listening hard you make sure that you give the customer what they expect (which is sometimes for you to ask for the order by the way) and by asking them for a decision you help them over the line.

People buy things from people they trust, from people they have confidence in. Be patient, explain things in simple terms and give the customer what they want, not what you have in the back of your van, as it were.