Business development 11 November 2016

How your small business can thrive by dropping the hard sell

sales pitch
Attempting to push potential customers into a sale can drive them away

Here, franchise director at nationwide vehicle retailer Lookers, Duncan McPhee, focuses on a crucial aspect of ensuring continued growth as a small business – sales. He explains how dropping the hard sell is often more likely to lead to long-term growth.

No matter how small or large your business is, if you want to see continued growth, it’s crucial that you think long-term with your business strategy.

In years gone by, the so-called hard sell has yielded great results for companies of all sizes. However, in the digital age, anyone who walks into a showroom or store will have done their research online and therefore know all of the important details about the products and services you’re offering.

If you try to use ‘old school’ tactics to push potential customers into a sale that might not be right for them, they’re likely to know based on the research they’ve already done, and this can break down any chance of a sale.

So, what can you do to improve your sales in lieu of pushing to close every deal?

In my opinion, you’re likely to see much better results if you drop the hard sell altogether and instead focus on providing the best possible customer service. Building strong relationships with potential customers is the key to long-term success in any sector, no matter what size your business is.

If you’re a small business, this can actually be a competitive advantage, as consumers are a lot less likely to see you as a faceless corporation, and are therefore more inclined to trust your word when you give them honest advice.

If you can create and maintain a relationship with your target market based on trust, you’re sure to succeed, and pushing the hard sell on consumers is totally counterproductive to this.

So, if you’re planning on growing your business, make sure you remain reliable, and always deliver what you promise to your customer base.

This will go a long way to building lasting relationships, which are so much more important for your long-term success than upselling to a few customers while you’re at the beginning of your journey, at the risk of losing the rest of your customer base’s loyalty.

Here at Lookers, our ethos is “for you, for life”, and that’s because we’re much more interested in creating customers who come back to us again and again, than squeezing an extra few hundred pounds out of a single sale.

This is reflected in the way we approach every interaction with customers, as we want them to have a positive experience with our brand that makes us their go-to dealership when they next come to change car.

In practice, this means that providing customers with aftersales support, advice, and repairs is just as important as closing the initial sale.

Take a look at your own industry and think about what you can do to gain your target market’s trust and loyalty. This will almost certainly include providing an exceptional, personalised customer experience, and may also involve sharing industry knowledge on your company website and through your social media channels without being overly salesy.

The hard sell is likely to be counterproductive, and you should make the transition away from it as soon as possible for the best chance of successfully growing your small business in the long-term.

Duncan McPhee is franchise director at Lookers

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