Great salespeople have a sales process. Whether sitting face-to-face with a prospect or meeting virtually, every successful salesperson has a process to move the prospect toward the close. While each of us may apply the fundamentals differently, we all know following the sales process is vital to finding, winning and keeping good customers.
The Fundamental Sales Process
Every sale begins with identifying a prospect who has a problem we can solve. Then we move the prospect through the fundamental steps of the sales process: Building rapport, finding the pain, discovering the budget, identifying the decision-making process, making the presentation, closing the sale and finally post sale activities. Some great salespeople do this one step at a time in sequence. Others may jump around in the sales process. The key is to have a process which is repeatable and successful when applied skillfully. (There are links to other blog posts which more fully deal with each step.)
Buyers work with salespeople they like, trust and respect. The first activity in any sales pursuit is to build trust. We do this by asking questions of the buyer to identify their personal and professional goals, hopes and dreams. By actively listening to the buyer’s story, we find out the buyer’s needs. Then we tailor future conversations around the buyer. When we have the buyer’s trust and respect they will answer the difficult questions we ask.
Finding The Pain
Every salesperson’s goal when is to change a prospects behavior. We make the change when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing. Some great salespeople use terms like “problem”, “need”, or “want”. But all sales decisions are really made at an emotional level. And pain is a strong emotion. Yes, after we decide we use facts to justify the decision. But unless the buyer has real pain we won’t make the sale. So salespeople either identify an existing pain or create pain by showing the buyer a better future.
Discover The Budget
Great salespeople get the buyer to discuss their budget. When the buyer has enough budgeted to solve their problem, the salesperson knows it is worthwhile pursuing this sale. If the budget is less than what is needed the salesperson redefines the problem to fit the budget. And when there is more than enough funds, the great salesperson can up-sell to increase their offer.
How Are Buying Decisions Made?
The only way to win a sale is buy persuading the person who can commit to making the purchase. Great salespeople discover how and who makes decisions to buy their products or services. The best results come when the salesperson can present to the decision maker. If the decision-making process is one where the salesperson is blocked from the decider, the salesperson then can choose whether to continue. When there are buying teams the great salesperson seeks to understand the role of each member.
We have a qualified prospect when we have identified the pain, they have enough money to solve their problem and we understand who and how decisions are made.
Presenting To Close
Ok, great salesperson, you have found the pain, the budget and the decision maker has invited you to present your solution. Fantastic, all you have to do is get a “yes”! Begin the presentation by reviewing the pain, budget and decision-making process. Get confirmation that you have understood correctly. Next get a commitment for either a “yes” or a “no” at the end of your presentation. Should you get a “no” you can go on selling by uncovering and satisfying the objection. Never settle for an “I-want-to-think-it-over” answer. That leaves you, great salesperson, in limbo.
The sales process ends when you get the order. Take care of the paperwork. Follow up on the delivery. Make sure the customer has a “moment of magic” experience. Then get referrals. And begin the sales process all over again to find another problem to solve. If all doesn’t go well and the customer has a “moment of misery” experience, do what is necessary to fix it.
Work The Process
When all the steps in the sales process are done well, the order comes. Sometimes the close will even happen before a presentation. Each of us tailors the sales process to suit our style and our customer. While all the elements need to be completed, often they are not done in sequence. When there are long sales cycles, each step may require multiple meetings. For one-call close business, great salespeople move confidently from rapport through presentation.
What You Can Do Right Now To Improve Your Sales Process
- Write down the steps in your sales process.
- List the questions you use in each step.
- Think back over your last successful sales. What did you do well in each step?