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Sales and the steps to success

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Unless you have had a career in sales you have never considered yourself a salesperson. In fact, your first thought might be that salespeople are dishonest or manipulative. You might recall watching Matilda’s father using the drill to turn back the miles on the dashboard of the used cars he sold? The truth is if you have to lie about your product or service then it might be time to move on to another gig. Another common fallacy is that great salespeople are born and not made. While many are blessed with a "golden tongue," sales is a skill that can be developed. Self-improvement is crucial. “Talents you have naturally but skill is only developed by hours and hours of beating on your craft.” Will Smith.

As a salesperson, you want to transfer an emotion of certainty. You want the person on the receiving end to feel that you are there to help them. By becoming an expert in your field you will have the conviction that will have you believing in your product or service.  Product knowledge leads to you sounding confident, assertive and sharp. If you are certain that your product will solve the prospect’s problem they will start believing it as well.

You will find out quickly that a great salesperson is also a great problem solver. After all, you are solving a problem that your prospect either consciously or unconsciously has. Now you can break down this problem into two categories: wants and needs. The type of problem does not matter. The sales process is the same on both occasions. And yes there is a process to sales. The sooner you believe this the sooner you will begin to increase your numbers. So, that script you have been given is your outline to the sales process. Remember, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.

The sales steps can be broken into 5 steps:

  1. Prospecting
  2. Opening
  3. Gathering intelligence/ Qualifying your lead
  4. Presentation
  5. Asking for the sale/ Closing the sale

 

Prospecting

If you are doing phone sales, usually you get provided prospects and you can focus on the other steps. If you are doing sales in person then you will more likely need to do your own prospecting. Prospecting is basically identifying potential customers (prospects). Here you will be building your list or database of prospects that you will be reaching out to give your sales presentation and convert into customers.

Opening

If you are doing face to face sales you will find that the way you dress, speak your smile and even your body language plays an important role. If you are doing sales over the phone you might not have to worry much about appearance. While that might sound like a blessing at first you will find that it can become a limitation. The only tool you have is your voice.

Luckily, there are methods of overcoming this limitation. You will want to sound enthusiastic and have a winning smile. That’s right smiling over the phone helps to build rapport which is indispensable in any sales situation. Rapport is building a trust relationship with your prospects. Keeping rapport throughout the call is important as this will keep the communication flowing in both directions. Remember a prospect will make a determination whether to hang up or to continue talking to you within the first few seconds. Sitting up straight and having a quality headset helps with sounding clear. Have you ever spoken with a salesperson who was not an expert in their product or service? You have to be sharp as a tack and become an expert in your product or service. Trust me, confidence will take you a long way in sales. "All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like, and trust." --Bob Burg

Qualifying your lead and gathering intelligence

If you manage to get past the opening without the prospect hanging up on you it is time to start gathering intelligence while qualifying your lead at the same time. Trust me, it is not a good feeling to spend 30 minutes telling your prospect all about your product just to find out at the end they are not qualified. This is also where you arm yourself with the ammunition that will help you at the end of the sale. To aid in questioning you can turn to the funnel effect, the method of asking questions which allows you to gather the information you need. Open-ended questions can be used to get more detail or to get the prospect to open up about their situation. Probing questions can be used to get clarification. Closed questions are used to get short specific answers. This step will help you to find out the motives that the prospect has for reaching out to you. These include rational, emotional or patronage.

Transition and Presentation

Now that you understand the prospect’s problem you will present your solution.  When you transition it is important to let the lead know that you have been listening to their needs and concerns.  You might want to repeat the problem back to the prospect in your own words. This shows you are concerned and also ensures you are both on the same page.

Be sure to present your solution in a clear and concise manner so your prospect can understand and also picture a future free of the problem that they initially called in with. This is where product knowledge and being an expert in your field goes a long way. Do remember to keep building the rapport all throughout the call. You can also use micro-agreements and the prospect’s name during the call. This will ensure that your prospect is engaged and listening to how you paint the picture.

Asking for the sale and closing the deal

If you did a great job of presenting your product (solving the problem) then your prospect will be begging you to take their credit card.  So unless the prospect hits you with any of those dreadful objections, assume the sale. Now, as I’m sure you are aware the instances where this will occur are few and far in between. It will be more common to receive questions and objections at this point. Many salespersons will tell you that this is where the real sales begin. "Treat objections as requests for further information." --Brian Tracy.

Being able to recognize the difference between a question and an actual objection will save you a lot of time. You will want to provide a satisfactory response to questions and objections and get them back to the close. Remember it’s as easy as ABC, Always Be Closing.

You will want to address objections in three steps. You want to first clarify the objection. This will ensure you are addressing the right objection. Secondly, you want to acknowledge the objection. This ensures the prospect feels you are not just another salesperson wanting to get a sale. You are rather a human like them that wants to address their concerns and ultimately help them get the best solution for their problem.  The third step is to dissolve the objection. There are many ways you can do this. You can use the same information gathered earlier in the call. I worked as a loan processor for an online lending company that provided simple, short-term loans. While gathering intelligence I would ensure that I find out how quickly the funds were needed and the purpose of considering a loan. So when they would hit me with the objection that the interest was too high I would remind them of their deadline and purpose. I would assure them I can process the loan now and have it in their accounts first thing the following day.

What you use to diffuse the objection really depends on the objection but following the three-step process will ensure you always address objections in a systematic manner and are able to keep the communication going. Once you have addressed all the objections you will be able to get the prospect back to the closing and have them sign on the dotted line.

One thing to always remember is that the probability of closing a deal is the highest immediately after your presentation. So instead of asking, “when can I call you back,” when a prospect says they want to think about it you can instead use your questioning skills to find out if the prospect really needs to think about it or whether their concern is really another. Whenever you have successfully addressed an objection don’t hesitate to go for the close again. Depending on how huge of a commitment your product or service is and the personality of your prospect you might have to address many objections. As long as you remember to keep rapport, keep the communication open and keep the process moving then you increase your chances of closing your call with, “Thank you for business Mr. Smith and enjoy the rest of your day!”

 

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