Selling or Buying – which is it?

The action of selling is the only business activity that brings money into a business. Thus the effective management of the selling process is fundamental to ensuring that costs, investment and use of assets are minimized, while the level of profitable income is maximised.

The art of successful selling lies in differentiating at an early stage, between those who are there to buy, those who would buy if they recognised that they had a problem that could be resolved to their advantage, and those who while they show interest and curiosity, are simply not in the market to buy at that time.

When asked, many people complain that they do not like to be “sold to”, and when they feel that sales people are “selling” to them, they prefer to walk away. Aggressive selling may have short term positive results, but will often prevent repeat sales, because its manner may alienate the customer. The process of selling does not come without costs, and like every other activity used in producing income, it needs to be effectively managed.

Business to business transactions usually require sales staff to invest in market research to identify new markets and potential customers. Having understood the general make-up of the selected market, the profile and the requirements of potential customers have to be defined, with a clear understanding of how the product or service on offer would benefit them and meet their needs. Opportunities then have to be sought to meet the potential customer, to confirm their requirements and then to present and demonstrate their solution. While repeat sales may simply be a case of confirmation and order taking, making the initial sale in a business to business environment, may take several meetings over a prolonged period. Where businesses are involved in long-term contracts, (perhaps a major engineering project), the initial sales meetings will often progress into negotiations and then contract  meetings, all of which may take months or longer to complete.

For the manager responsible for managing assets and resources for producing sustainable profitable income, often the most costly part of producing income is prospecting for future sales. How much money should be invested in “bid and proposal”, is an important question.

Selling is more successful if the customer comes to the supplier with the intent to buy, than if the supplier goes to the customer with the intent to sell. In most consumer markets, potential customers are largely self selecting in that they choose to enter the selling arena of a shop or a web-site. By so doing, potential customers  indicate that they have an initial interest in the product or service on offer, even if they are not disposed to buy at that time. The sales assistant may then guide the customer to the product required, thus securing the sale.

In business to business operations, the costs of identifying and contacting potential customers can be high. Establishing when the potential customer is able, ready and above all willing to buy is all important. Unlike consumer selling, which is usually one to one, business to business selling often requires sales meetings with the buyer, the specifyer and the user. Businesses to business sales do not usually have “shop windows”, although increasingly this is possible in a virtual manner via the internet.  Yet while business to business sales may be made directly through the internet for such things as office supplies and some consumables, in the main they provide a portal for interested parties to contact the supplier and engage in dialogue which may result in sales. Similarly, trade exhibitions enable suppliers to exhibit their wares and services to a self selecting audience, that is actively seeking information and potential suppliers. Thus trade stands may be used for completing trade sales or initiating effective meetings for prospective future business.

Advertising, with the exception of direct response advertising, does not create sales. What is does is to raise awareness of the existence of a product or service to potential customers. That awareness may then encourage further enquiry via a shop or web-site that results in a wish to buy. In business to business transactions, advertising brings awareness to potential clients that help to “open doors” for the opportunity of business discussion.

Making potential customers aware of products and services and thus encouraging them to come and buy, tends to be more cost effective than trying to sell to prospective customers who may not be in the mood to buy.

The best salesmen don’t sell, but recognise those customers who want to buy.

© N.C.Watkis, Contract Marketing Service 17 Apr 12

www.contractmarketingservice.com (Business development performance consultants)

 

April 30, 2012  Tags: , , , , , , , , ,   Posted in: business development, Business Marketing, business performance improvement, business performance indicators, business performance management, business performance measurement, marketing development, marketing metrics, marketing performance measurement, marketing ROI, performance management, performance measurement indicators

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