Key Learning Outcomes

  • A well-designed sales process will increase the number of prospects who convert to customers.
  • Learn about the characteristics you need in order to be a successful and effective salesperson.
  • Apply our detailed sales process to your business, regardless of how large or small it is.
  • Understand the importance of determining what your customers want prior to selling them your products and services.

Article

There are a few key ingredients that make a great sales person. Having some natural talent and flair can be a big advantage, liking dealing with people is essential but most often it is organisation and discipline that separates the good from the great.

Great sales people

The process

Having a system or process as a sales becomes more important as the value of the product or service becomes higher. In saying that having a well thought out sales process will help increase conversion rates of prospects to customers in any business. We have designed a selling process that works in any business as outlined in the diagram below.[wlm_ismember]

Theprocess

Preparation

They say knowledge is power and the more you know prior to meeting with a prospective customer the better. We have all been in a meeting or some other situation where we know we are underprepared and it is usually stressful for everyone involved. Your level of preparation will have a direct impact on your results in much the same way it does for an athlete competing at an event or a student sitting an exam. The better prepared we can be, the more professional we will appear and in turn the more likely that the prospect will choose us.

If you have the opportunity to speak with the person prior to the appointment try to gather as much relevant information as you can. You do not want to do the sales appointment over the phone so you need to keep it relatively brief. Always pre-frame why you need the information by using the following dialogue:

“So I can be as prepared as possible for our meeting would you mind if you gave me some additional information on ……?”

By asking in this manner the prospective customer is going to tell you the information that you need as you have outlined a benefit to them. They are also more likely to be open before you are in a face-to-face selling situation. There is also the added advantage of starting to build rapport, as we know that frequency of contact will build trust.

Rapport building

Science tells us that people are more likely to be influenced by people they like and feel a connection with. We suggest you read our article on the six principals of influence for more information on the triggers that help people to say yes.

Rapport building is more than just small talk; it is taking the time to build a connection with the person you are dealing with. It is a vital part of the sales process and it is important to take the time with this before moving on. Look for areas of commonality and do not be afraid to put a bit of yourself in if it is appropriate. The key thing is to be genuine, as people do not like to deal with people that they do not feel that they can trust.

Fact-finding

In most purchasing decisions the basic need for all consumers is usually the same. For example, if two men walk into a menswear shop looking for a suit their basic need is the same, to buy a suit. A great salesperson will be able to build a rapport with each and find out what the deeper motivation is, why they need the suit. It may be that one man is looking for a suit to wear to his son’s wedding and the other is looking for an every day suit to wear to work. With this information the sales person can sell the best product to satisfy the client’s individual need.

A great sales person is a master of asking non-threatening open-ended questions in order to gather as much information as possible. The key is to find out what is most important to the customer in this process. What factors are they going to consider when they make their final decision? The person who does this best will usually win the business as they are able to build a better connection and it allows them to match their selling points to the client’s needs.

Clarifying

It is important to confirm back to the customer what you hear. This is an active listening skill that helps to build mutual understanding. Use the following dialogue:

“From what I understand ……….”

“Can I just clarify……….”

“Could you tell me a little more about that….”

This allows the customer to clarify, expand or add to the issues or points that they may have already given you.

This process also helps to build likability and trust. The customer starts to think, “this person understands me” or “this person really gets it”.

Solution

By now you should have some good information on what the client’s specific needs are and you can propose a solution. Using the example of the salesperson from the menswear shop, they may suggest a suit in a heavier fabric for the gentleman wanting the every day suit and elaborate on the benefits of how this will be longer wearing. They may even suggest a suit with two trousers for the same reason.

The key is to do as much as you need to and as little as you need to get the client to say yes. Too often salespeople talk themselves out of a sale by waffling about things that do not interest the client or satisfy their needs. It is important not to do what we call a ‘dialogue dump’, this is telling the client about every feature and benefit of the product, service or yourself with the hope that something resonates with the client. More likely their attention will wander and they will lose interest in your proposition.

Once again it is important to confirm as you progress through this stage of the process. At this stage you want to start to ask some more closed questions, for example:

“Does that sound like it covers point xyz for you?”

“Would you be comfortable with that?”

You need to confirm after each point, this allows the client to talk and allows for any clarification. By getting a series of small agreements along the way will make it easier for the customer to choose you as the presentation progresses.

Trial Close

Once all of the points and issues have been covered off it is important to trial close the deal. The aim of a trial close is to gain commitment but also to uncover any objections that the customer may have. It is important to come up with dialogue that suits your business and situation. Here is an example:

“Based on everything we have discussed would you be happy to move forward with myself and Jones & Co. to represent you?”

If they say yes, then you can move onto the next step. If they say they are not quite sure, then they have an objection that you need to address before they can move on.

If for some reason they are not quite ready to make a final decision you are still able to trial close as long as you pre-frame it as follows:

“I understand that you will not be ready to buy for some time, however based on everything we have discussed would you be happy to move forward with myself and Jones & Co. to represent you when you are ready?”

In this instance you already knew that the person was not ready to make the final decision but you can still do a trial close in an effort to uncover any objections they may have and gain a level of commitment from the customer. Once again science tells us that as humans we do not like to break a commitment so if the person says they will choose you there is a good chance you will get the business unless something untoward happens.

Overcoming objections 

Smart sales people treat objections not as a problem but as an opportunity. Firstly, if you know about it you can potentially overcome it and secondly it means that your potential customer is thinking about it.

Always listen fully to an objection, many sales people interrupt or tell the person that they are wrong. Make sure you are using active listening and that you are listening to understand rather than listening to respond.

Our article on overcoming objections will give you more detail, however the key is to ensure that there is only the one objection. It is essential to clarify and ask if this is the only objection to moving forward.

Once you have clearly understood the objection, clarified that this is the only concern you can work to overcome it. This may coming up with a solution, modifying something you may have suggested previously or clarifying an earlier point that needs more detail. Remember to confirm again, before moving on. Ask a closed question such as “Are you comfortable with that now?” or “Does that clarify that for you now?”

It is important to remember that if you do not overcome the objections the customer WILL NOT choose you.

Closing

The final step in the process is to close the deal and to ask for the business. So many salespeople give a great presentation and forget to ask the question. With the Absolute Best process you have been confirming and gaining small commitments throughout the presentation. If you have done your trial close and dealt with any objections you have earned the right to ask for the business. Again in this instance we need to ask a closed question, “with that now covered are you happy to move forward with myself and Jones and Co.?”

If they say yes then clearly outline the next steps. “That is great, I am really looking forward to doing business with you, the next step is…….”

If the next step is getting paperwork done then it is ideal to get that done on the spot. However, if you need to make another appointment to get contracts or paperwork signed it is essential to make the appointment prior to leaving the office. With smart phones it is very easy to simply use the following dialogue:

“So I have the time locked in for you lets make a tentative time of 10am next Tuesday. I will call to confirm and we can always change it if need be.”

Again we know that people who make a commitment are far less likely to break their word. This lack of desire to break a commitment increases even further if you can get the person to put it in writing, therefore getting them to put the appointment in their diary will help build on this level of commitment.

The Absolute Best sales process will work in any business and for any industry. You can use the same core principals when selling anything from a product in a retail store right through to selling high end consulting services. The key is to determine what the potential customer wants before you start talking about what you have to offer.[/wlm_ismember]

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