Modern society is so quick – life speeds by – and many people will tell you that there are not enough hours in a day. For salespeople, this rush sometimes manifests in a disregard for pertinent details. It’s definitely not deliberate but instead, an intense focus on the goal – the prize. The following points are key points in any sales process. Often people believe that there is more to a sale worth $150,000 than there is to a sale worth $5. Any good salesperson will know however, that the price of the deal doesn’t change the process – and remaining diligent and consistent is what will reward you will the higher number of sales in the long run.
Qualifying your Prospect
There’s a colloquial saying “keep your eye on the prize” – but as you’ll find below, sometimes the details of the journey are really what help you arrive at the prize. This could be the case if you find yourself continuing to talk to potential customers or prospects, and you are rarely getting the sale. How do you get through this? Well, by focusing on the beginning of the sales process you’ll greatly increase your chances of closing the deal and obtaining the prize. If you focus on qualifying the right prospects from the beginning, you will spend your valuable time speaking with the right people; and ultimately evolving prospects into customers. The sale, although the ultimate goal, is dependent on your preparation, and the beginning of the sales process itself. As an added bonus, you’ll spend less time on cold prospects and more time on those that will actually result in a sale.
Knowledge is Power
The next step in the process, after you’ve found a qualified prospect, is learning about them. Selling is all about knowledge. You will seldom succeed in a sale if you just called a person out of the blue – with no background on their business, their products, or their needs. This is where it is integral to become acquainted with your prospect – it instantly builds a level of rapport, and commands a level of respect and professionalism from the prospect. Doing your due diligence will also contribute to a smooth conversation and assist you, the salesperson, with your confidence. Another important point is knowing when to access that prospect. If you’ve done your research on the right prospect then you’ll know when they are in the position to buy – and chances are that you’ll be ready to sell!
Build the Relationship
I’m sure we can all agree that there are few things more irritating than a person who calls you out of the blue and tries and sell you something – be it office supplies, a copy machine, etc. Oftentimes, whatever they’re trying to sell isn’t even something you need (or want!). To avoid being that salesperson, ensure that you are warming up to them and building rapport. Don’t make the sale right away. You will likely hear the term “touches” in sales, and the number of touches a prospect needs before truly closing the deal – too many touches means you’re wasting your time, but too few touches means that you’re rushing the conversation and are not likely to make a strong sale or even close the deal at all. This is where positioning and rapport come in. Build your relationship with the prospect and you will know when they are ready to buy. This is also a key part of the process where you need to be focused on the prospect and not necessarily the prize.
Obtain a Commitment
Getting a buy in from the prospect prior to the sale is key. As humans, we like to know that we’re needed and that we are helping others – its human nature. A good way to position yourself at the end of your first discussion with your qualified prospect is to have them commit to a follow up. I’ve heard some salespeople who like to give their prospect homework – as a way to engage them in the sales process and ultimately build rapport. This is also a good way to show their level of interest in what you are offering and the process itself – to allow you to gauge your next steps appropriately. A good way to do this is to confirm the next conversation prior to ending the current one – this gives a solid date and a simple timeline. Additionally, if you’ve given the prospect ‘homework,’ then he/she knows exactly when to have the task completed by and ultimately takes the stress out of the process. There is nothing worse than the unknown, and any anxiety that is introduced into the sales process can very often be a deal breaker.
Don’t Hound Them
Hounding is desperate, childish, and unprofessional. Personally, if someone calls me back more than once after I’ve said no – or told them that I’m not ready to make a decision – I almost always write them off; regardless of how badly I wanted or needed, their product. I don’t like to be pressured. Earlier on, we talked about the rush of life, the pressure, the fact that there are not enough hours in the day; between families, friends, hobbies, work, and education – we often have very little time to add in other things, like purchases. So, although a salesperson is focused on that task daily, it might take a regular person weeks or even months to come to the ultimate decision to buy.
As a salesperson – the best thing you can do is respect the time it takes for a person to come to a decision. To be honest, if you have already done the legwork in qualifying your prospect, building the relationship, and pitching when they are ready to buy – you shouldn’t worry about the decision making time at all. If they haven’t responded to you, or you’ve already called once – leave a message. Let them know you’re ready when they are, and passively give them the time to decide. They will know to get ahold of you when they’ve come to a decision or need assistance moving forward. Try being creative as well – start their offices day off with a tray of donuts, your business card, and a cute and quirky note. That kind of impression will be everlasting and may just be the edge you need to make the sale.
Always Keep Selling
Many salespeople close their deal, earn their commission check, and move on to the next. This is the worst way to build your sales career. Ultimately, any good salesperson will tell you that the sale never ends. So, the prospect has become a customer, now what? Repeat business is what builds a company’s reputation – a client could be a fabulous reference for you, and will often continue to be a client. Maintaining a client relationship is almost as difficult as earning their business initially. Ensure you continue to build/maintain the rapport long after the client has become a customer. This will make future sales easier, and increase your company’s revenue (hello bonus!).
Don’t Fear Rejection
You got rejected – it happens! As a salesperson, how you handle rejection is what sets you apart from the rest. Many will take the rejection, slump down, and walk away from the prospect. A better salesperson will sit down and ask the prospect what went wrong – then use that information to become a better salesperson in the future. If the prospect says that they really just don’t need what you’re selling – then you’ll know that you need to focus on qualifying your prospects better in the future. If they mention that they are not currently ready to buy – you can focus on your timing of the pitch for your next sale. Being able to ask the hard questions will make you stronger, more resilient, and more prepared for the future. I’ve even seen situations where the prospect is surprised at the salespersons tenacity and honesty and they are ultimately earned as a customer.
In a Nutshell
The sales process is always evolving – but there has been a historical foundation built that lends itself to customer service, professionalism, and creativity. Qualifying a prospect, confidence, and building rapport will ultimately assist you in landing the sale and the commission. This process is the same for selling a $2 chocolate bar as it is for landing a $50 million dollar software contract. The cost of the prize should never dictate the sales process. Ensure you are following a foundation to qualify your prospect, educate yourself, build the rapport, and sell when the time is right, in order to land whatever sale it is your working toward.
Authored by: Jennifer Dodds, Implementation Specialist