Yesterday I had the opportunity to work with two very experienced process control engineers as we prepared for and then participated in a lengthy meeting with a panel of technical managers at a large manufacturing company. Each of these knowledgeable gentlemen were twenty-plus year engineering veterans of their company.
My function was facilitator, keeping the meeting on track so that we could accomplish our goals, chief of which was to collect the necessary information to solve their complex issues and furnish a quotation for their immediate project.
I do not pretend to be a process engineer. Any pretending would be quickly revealed and mistrust would surely ensue. There is no shame in admitting your limitations and bringing in qualified experts to provide technical support and assistance.
None of us can be experts in everything. Customers appreciate being able to speak their language and having their audience understand it. In this manner, they feel confident that there is an open communication channel and their needs are clearly understood.
Our engineers worked all afternoon, evening and early this morning preparing a sixteen-page proposal which I delivered to them this afternoon. They appreciated this extra effort as their need is immediate. We could have their purchase order and down payment as early as tomorrow!
Yes… you read correctly; a down payment. In this case, 50% of the order value. When a partial payment is part of the order process, the customer becomes committed and serious. We cannot afford to spend 20-30 hours of preparation and order components without such commitment.
In like manner, our customer expects the same commitment and dedication from us. They expect us to proceed in a timely manner, communicating with them regularly throughout the process and delivering their system on-time.
These same sales principles can be applied in a variety of industries and services.
1. Search out and pre-qualify customers who need your help.
2. Research their credit worthiness, financial strength and reputation.
3. Be certain that they have a clear understanding of your capabilities, products and services.
4. Learn everything you can about their operations and needs.
5. Quote expectantly. Do not hesitate to ask for their business.
6. Do not be shy about making a solid profit. It is why you are in business.
7. Negotiate payment terms up-front. Be direct.
8. Over-deliver on your promises.
Sales is so much about communicating clearly. When everyone is on the same page, errors and disappointments are less likely. No customer expects perfection, but they do demand your best effort and attention to their needs. Keep communicating and you will likely keep selling.
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