The following seven steps are core sales skills and procedures. Just as basketball players constantly practice their lay-up shots and blocking, we must constantly train ourselves on the Seven Steps to Every Sale.
- Establish rapport. You will find that you close a much higher percentage of sales if you have good, solid rapport with your client. The ultimate definition of rapport is: They like you, they trust you, and they respect you. Respect and trust lead to influence. Influence leads to control over your market or the buying situation at hand. Work with your staff to design standards for establishing rapport.
- Qualify the buyer (find the need). To reset a customer's buying criteria in favor of your product or service, you must begin by gaining a complete understanding of his or her current buying criteria. Develop the six to ten questions that you would like to know about every prospect before you begin to present your product or service. Drill these questions into your salespeople until every one of them can recite them by heart.
- Build value. After you have assessed your customers buying criteria, you must begin to build value around your product or service. Make a presentation at this point in the sales process. The presentation should be targeted to the buyer, not to your product or service.
- Create desire. Be clear on this important point: Your buyer will be a lot more motivated if his or her current situation becomes unacceptable. To create desire, you must motivate your buyer using a combination of problems and solutions, even if you're the one pointing out the problems that they haven't really considered. For example, one company that sold information services to accountants showed the accountants how much new tax information (statutes, regulations, tax law, tax cases, etc.) they have to know each year. This information made the accountants feel overwhelmed and predisposed to purchasing anything that would help them survive the tax-information plight. The company actually helped create the "plight" by introducing the accountants to the very real market statistics that existed but that no one else was showing them. It was very, very powerful.
- Overcome objections. A talented salesperson does such a good job of finding the need that objections are covered earlier in the sales process. A top salesperson will qualify the buyer's buying criteria right down to his or her toes before they even begin to sell. However, an "objection" can still surface when it's time to close the sale (see below). If you remember that "an objection is an opportunity to close," you will always be happy to hear one. For example,
- The client states an objection: "I'd love to buy it, but I just can't afford it right now."
- Agree that the objection is valid. The client will drop his or her guard: "If you can't afford it, you can't afford it (meaningful pause). But let me ask you a question: Is money the only thing standing between you and the purchase of this product?" At this point, if there are more objections, they will surface. If not, the client will say, "No, if I could afford it, I'd buy it." You have just moved a huge step closer to closing the sale.
- Lock down the sale: You say, "So, if I can find a way for you to afford this product, you will buy it?" If the client says yes, you have just closed the sale. You will now need to be more creative in the financing of the product or service or help create more desire, so the prospect will pay the extra money to buy the product or service.
- Close the sale. In truth, the best salespeople I have witnessed do not "close," they "bring the sale to a logical conclusion." They have helped set up such a logical buying criteria that the prospect and the salesperson walk to the close together. That being said, it should also be stated that most people need help making decisions.
This article cannot cover all the aspects of closing a sale, but it can cover the oldest close of all: assuming the sale. Do this by asking a question like, "Who do we send the bill to?" or "How did you want to pay for this?"
- Follow up - Last but not least, be prepared for The Cool-Off Factor. Because enthusiasm and rapport are extremely influential in the sales process, a salesperson must know that a prospect is going to "cool off" after the salesperson leaves the room.
How do you avoid this? Follow up strongly after the sale! The fax machine was the greatest invention for a salesperson. A good follow-up letter faxed hours after the sale, or the next day at the latest, can go a long way toward avoiding the cool-off factor. (Much more effective than an email).
Smart companies build tools, policies, and procedures that support these seven steps. The more standards you set, the higher the performance you can expect from yourself and every level of talent.
Go forth and master The Seven Steps to Every Sale. Only constant practice and repetition will create master-level salespeople.
NANCY BETH is the President & Executive Consultant at Sweet Spot Academy.
At Sweet Spot Academy, we solve and simplify "HOW" to keep your business moving forward by offering a suite of know-how based business training and empowerment programs. We focus on small group workshops and customized training programs.
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