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References

"'Ask the Small Business Professor' is a must read for small business owners looking for free expert business advice. Using a Q&A format, Bruce Freeman covers important small business topics weekly by bringing in recognized experts on subjects including accounting, legal issues, trademarks marketing and sales. Don't miss it!"

Joseph L. Rosenberg

CPA

"Bruce Freeman, The Small Business Professor, is a most valued and enthusiastic guest contributor to the business segment of our radio show dealing with the challenges facing today's entrepreneurs. His practical and insightful advice has served to enhance our ability, as broadcasters, to help business owners move ahead in their various fields of endeavor. ....Thank you, Bruce."

Sue Tovey / Sande Foster

Co-Hosts

WTBQ 1110 AM (ABC Affiliate Station)

"I've been working with patients for almost 10 years as a Chiropractic Physician. I'm always looking for new ways to increase awareness of the valuable clinical services provided at my centers. Bruce Freeman has given me insightful ideas to assist in my marketing efforts. I rely on his 'Ask the Small Business Professor' column to keep me abreast of new trends and developments in the field. I couldn't ask for a more knowledgeable and capable advisor as my companies move forward into providing nationwide healthcare for patients."

Dr. Daniel Houshmand, D.C.

AlternaCare Wellness Centers, LLC

"The Small Business Professor is a site that should be bookmarked by every entrepreneur. In today's business environment, it is difficult to gather information and obtain answers to the myriad of questions that face business owners. Bruce Freeman's 'Ask the Small Business Professor' column is an excellent resource that provides guidance, up-to-the-minute information, mentoring, and more."

Irene Maslowski

APR Principal

Maslowski & Associates Public Relations

"I find the column inspiring and helpful to me in running my own small business."

Dan Janal

President and Founder

PRleads.com

Improving your Sales

Dear Professor Bruce:

I’m just starting my own business selling custom window blinds. I’m very excited when I talk with people about it, but I don’t seem to be making many sales. What should I do?

Answer:

People are more likely to buy from someone who is excited about their product or service. So, it’s great that you love to talk about it. However, your focus needs to be on what the buyer will be excited about. Your job is to learn what their motivation is for talking with you.

According Sales expert, Tom Hopkins, author of How to Master the Art of Selling, good selling is more about listening than talking. It requires that you ask questions to find out what would make the buyer to want to own your product.

Do they just love the look of blinds? Are they shopping around for price and quality? Were they referred to you by a friend or relative who is telling them they should go with blinds, but they aren’t really sure whether they like them or not? Are they primarily concerned with durability because they have kids in the home? Or, is energy savings a critical factor?

Your goal in business is to sell to their real needs…not to sell what you want to sell. Take a few minutes to look at your order form. What information do you need from clients to fill it out completely? In other words, what information equals a closed sale? Write a question to get the answer to each entry in your order form. Initially, the list of questions is likely to read like a police interview…as if you’re grilling them for information. That’s okay.

Your next step is to take those questions and soften them or gently lead up to them while still getting to the answer. Instead of asking, “What color of blinds do you want?” You might phrase the question like this, “Mary, we have a wide variety of colors and textures to choose from. Do you have something in mind already for the windows in your den?” Or, “Is there a particular color scheme you have in mind for the children’s room?” See? You’re still heading in the direction of drawing out the answer to “what color do you want,” but more gently and professionally. Repeat the process with each answer you need and you’ll soon find yourself making more sales because you’ll be listening instead of talking.

...good selling is more about listening than talking.