Just as rocket science is built from a foundation of physical and mathematical laws and principles, sales can be distilled to very simple laws and principles too.
While branded selling “systems” and “approaches” serve several purposes (they help differentiate sales books and training material in order to sell them better as well as assist in articulating a message so it’s easily learned and/ or implemented) the simple laws and principles underlying them all have remained relatively unchanged since the beginning of time.
Here’s the bottom line for your records — fluff removed. Depending on what you sell, parts of the process may not be needed and some parts might need repeating.
Use this as a guide for the in-house sales development of your team or for your personal sales skill development (you do work on your most valuable asset, don’t you?) Focus on one area each week or month.
The Sales Process 101
(the 7 steps broken down)
Assuming you’ve identified the features & benefits of your product/ service — and you’ve identified and defined your target market — the sales process begins. Here’s the 7 foundational elements of the sales process.
- Analyze Needs
- Service & Follow-Up
Throughout the sales process, the salesperson should be continually…
- positively expectant and enthusiastic
- qualifying the opportunity (for both parties)
- discovering hot buttons (what’s in it for them)
- seeking additional opportunities to serve & sell
- evaluating responses & results (positive/ negative)
- affirming decisions (minimizing buyer’s remorse)
Work On Opportunities, Not Contacts
With such a limited number of true selling hours each day, your and your team’s time should be invested with people who should, can, and most likely will buy your offering. A moment with anyone else (when you’re aware of it) is a time management tragedy.
Continually qualifying your sales leads is the best way to make sure you’re investing your sales time wisely.
- Create a list of your formal qualification points.
- Assume nothing throughout the entire sales process.
- Continually ask qualifying questions.
- Be prepared to end a sales process if it no longer looks like a good investment of time.
- Always close a discussion confirming next action steps (further qualifying your prospect’s/ customer’s commitment to the effort).
Create formal qualification points
To create a list of your formal qualification points, take an objective look back at those deals you’ve won over the last year/ month/ week and find the common threads that brought these customers into your business. Consider such points as…
- Do those who buy from us have a stated date or timeline for implementation when the sales process begins?
- Do our prospects/ customers usually have a specific budget allocated for purchasing our product/ service?
- What’s the typical title or area of responsibility of those who buy from us?
- Do most people who buy from us purchase something from someone else that’s similar to our product/ service?
- Is our company usually the first company the prospect approaches for a product/ service like ours, or the last?
- Are most people who buy from us first-time buyers of our product/ service?
- Do most people who buy from us buy something else first?
Look for the common threads among the deals you lost. When these points come up in the future, you’ll know it’s likely better to allocate your sales time elsewhere.
ABC = Always Be Closing!
- What do you see as the next action steps?
- What is your timeline for implementing/ purchasing this type of service/ product?
- What other data points should we know before moving forward?
- What budget has been established for this?
- What are your thoughts?
- Who else is involved in this decision?
- What could make this no longer a priority?
- What’s changed since we last talked?
- What concerns do you have?
Bonus: Example Exit Statement
How to most appropriately exit a sales situation that’s no longer worth your time. Here’s some example exit statements that will position you for a future sale.
“At the moment, I’m not sure we can provide enough value to you, but I’d like to keep in touch should things change. May I keep in touch periodically?”
“That sounds like an exciting project. We may be a little early in our discussions given all of your priorities. May I give you a call in 2 or 3 months?”
“Wow, you really have your hands full at the moment. Perhaps we should talk again in a few months and let you focus on these other priorities. May I subscribe you to our company newsletter?”
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