For some, the prospect of selling from a stand at an exhibition can be downright terrifying. But with the time and money invested in exhibiting, it is important to get the most out of the opportunity, which means being proactive, engaging with visitors and driving them to get the desired result. To help those less comfortable, or less experienced in selling face-to-face, Chris Callander looks at a simple sales process which can boost results for even the most reluctant stand personnel.
OK, here’s a secret for non-salespeople. It’s not actually that hard. Full-time salespeople will tell you it is, but the basic process of sales really isn’t. What is hard, is listening to people, saying ‘no’ day after day. Having to do it occasionally can actually be fun. And feeling like you have helped someone make a good decision is great.
Essentially, the sales process first has to identify a need that whatever the salesperson is offering can meet. The process then needs to show the ‘sales prospect’ how what is on offer meets that need. Then, depending on the type of sale, agree that it can do so at a price that both parties can agree on.
As with any process, a structured approach helps to focus the activity and make it easier for the salesperson to achieve the desired result. A relatively simple structure that can be used to work through the sales process is Probe, Confirm, Match and Close.
The sales process
Probe—start the sales process by asking questions that are likely to generate answers that will identify a need for what you are offering. You need to prepare these in advance.
Confirm—the answers you get may not obviously link to your offer, so you may need to reposition or rephrase them to match what you are offering in your prospect’s mind.
Match—when you have matched the identified need to your offer, you may need to reaffirm that by making the link more obvious. But also get the sales prospect’s agreement that you have a solution to their need.
Close—with the need identified and clearly matched, an agreement needs to be made to take up the offer. This may require the seller to overcome objections or negotiate on price or other terms. Most non-salespeople on exhibition stands will not be negotiating prices, but they may need to overcome objections.
Objections are generally good as they indicate intent but with a need for reassurance. Try to preempt as many possible objections in advance along with responses that can overcome them. Before tackling them a good tactic is to check whether, if you can overcome them, they will agree to your offer.
Here’s a simplified example of this sales process using a sandwich as an example.
You’re on a stand at an event trying to sell sandwiches…
Someone walks past your stand and so you start by probing:
“Hi there, have you managed to get some lunch yet today?”
The answer is likely to be yes or no. If it’s yes, you may want to cut your losses. Unless you feel really bold and want to try and sell them a sandwich to have later on the way home!
But if they say no you have identified a potential need for food. So you can try and confirm that.
“So you must be hungry then?”
You would expect them to say yes. If it’s a no you may need to go back to the probing stage and pick another line of questioning from the batch you prepared in advance.
Let’s assume it’s a yes. So now you need to match.
“Would a lovely, fresh, BLT sandwich help you get rid of your hunger pangs and keep you fuelled for the afternoon?”
You might get an objection here. What if they are vegetarian? If you have planned well in advance you will have thought of that eventuality and be ready to offer your finest cheese and pickle.
Either way, when you have found a flavour that they like, you just need to close by agreeing on the price for your sandwich. Which at an event is never easy!