Everyone out there can shoot a basketball into a hoop. You really don’t even need to be taught how to do it. You could hand someone who’s never seen a basketball or a hoop and say… get the ball in there.
They will eventually get the ball in. In fact, they may get it the first time, or the first 3 times. How would they go up against someone who’s played every weekend for 20 years though? How would they go up against a high school student who goes to practice every day?
This is just like selling! You don’t need to be taught how to sell a t-shirt. Anyone who starts a t-shirt shop might get their first sale easily, they might get their first three sales easily. How would they go against someone who has had an embroidery side business for 10 years? How would they go against someone who has been practicing and refining a sales method for custom apparel?
If you want to be the best at anything, you have to practice and refine. This episode is about building a framework for your sales method
Where to start.
The first thing to understand is that sales isn’t about being the most aggressive, or selling ice to an Eskimo. There is some ethics to being a good salesperson. I would personally define the best salesperson as a master of qualifying the right prospects and lining them up with the ideal solution you can offer”
In other words, you want to spend your time talking to the right people and getting them the custom apparel that meets their needs.
In writing this, I didn’t think Rapport belonged in this spot, but it has to be mentioned here. Everything you do from here out with prospects needs to involve building a rapport. If people don’t like you, they probably won’t buy from you. It doesn’t matter how good your product or price is. You have to build relationships with your customers, you have to be friendly, listen, smile, and be likable. You can study books and books about rapport building. If you don’t think this is your strong point, learn more about it.
We’ve talked about this a lot in the past but your time is your most valuable asset. You want to spend your time talking to people that will turn into sales for your business. If you continue to engage with prospects that won’t turn into sales… you aren’t setting yourself up for success.
Here is how you can qualify prospects. Use the B.A.N.T method:
Budget – How much do they want to spend on custom apparel? How much CAN they spend on custom apparel? How flexible is this budget?
Authority – is the person you are talking to going to make the final decision? If not, who is? Can you talk to that person too?
Need – what is their need for this custom apparel? Is it more a need or a want? Is it mandatory or optional?
Timeframe – when do they want this custom apparel?
You have to be able to answer these questions before you move on. Otherwise, you will be chasing customers who aren’t going to turn into sales.
Once you have qualified a customer, you can easily make a decision on how to proceed. It’s always going to be grey, never black and white.
What if a prospect seems ideal for you… but they aren’t buying for another year. Do you ignore them? Probably not. Do you give them great customer service? Sure. Do you let them monopolize too much of your time with details? Probably shouldn’t.
You will develop your own filters to determine how to act based on BANT. Practice makes perfect.
Qualification to Action
Having a framework of the sales process is one thing most ‘sales gurus’ will agree on. What these steps are vary from one expert to the next. They do all have some common themes. Here is one set that i find to be useful for a custom apparel business:
Identify Prospects – This means having a keen eye for noticing a potential prospect. This could be by cold call door knocking, answering an inbound phone call or meeting someone at a ball park.
Build Rapport / Trust – This is the first step of helping them take down any defensive barriers to being open to conversation.
Qualify – BANT – At this stage, you are essentially deciding if you are moving forward and how than will pan out.
Select / Recommend Products – This is where you decide what products you have to offer that will best suit this customer’s BANT. Then you present these options to your customer and explain the reasoning behind each choice (BANT). Good, Better, Best strategy is great here.
Overcome Objections / Clarify – At this point, your prospect will have either objections or questions (or both!). If you do your best to predict what some of these might be, you can better answer them. Tip: if you don’t have the answer right away, it’s ok to let them know you will get back with them later.
Close / Ask for Business – Once you have gotten past the questions and objections, they should be ready to commit. It’s important to ask for that business. You can literally just do that, “It seems like we have covered everything. We would love to earn your business. Can we start your order today?”
Follow up / Referral – Deliver the product, make sure they are happy, resolve any issues. Once they have a smile on their face, ask for a referral. ‘I am trying to grow my business and I depend on referrals. Is there anyone you can put me in contact with that also might need custom apparel?” – there are 1000 ways to ask for referrals, make sure you implement one of them.
Mistakes to avoid:
- Don’t talk to much / too little – Be a good listener and engage
- BANT shouldn’t be a grilling interrogation
- Don’t sound desperate or beg. People will appreciate your self respect.
- Be prepared – if you are a hot mess people will see it. you lost trust, rapport, etc
- Not asking for the deal – don’t be afraid to talk about money and ask for the business.
There are tons of resources out there about sales, the sales process, building rapport, etc. They are all good in their own way. There is no perfect answer or solution. However, if you educate yourself and practice (because most people won’t)…. you will be one of the best.