As has been discussed in earlier articles, sales teams need to have a process to follow when presenting to new prospects to ensure more consistent closing ratios.
In my experience very few companies I have seen have taken the time to identify the most effective process for selling their products or services which brings me to a sales principle which states:
“For every product category and market segment there is a best practice sales process which ensures optimum sales”
The key is to identify what creates sales and what doesn’t and develop the process into a standard operating procedure. This will only come about through measurement.
Unfortunately without a process salespeople are left to their own resources and do the best they can. These same salespeople are given sales targets to meet and budgets to achieve without the sales formula/process to follow and spend most of their time “flying by the seat of their pants”.
So if we agree we need to have a formulated approach to our sales the process could look something like this –
-Introductions and pleasantries
-Discover needs through prepared questions
-Ask for commitment
Let’s look at introductions and pleasantries. This is the most critical phase of the whole sales process as the decision to buy from you will be made in the first few minutes of meeting you. The fact that we make decisions about people so quickly is just part of human nature.
Research done with 267 Human Resource Managers from the Fortune 500 companies in America showed that on average they decided that a candidate would get the position being applied for within 40 seconds of meeting them. They then went on to conduct exhaustive tests and interviews to prove they had made the right choice.
Think of your own attitudes – have you ever had the experience where you have met someone for the first time and taken an instant dislike to them? The fact is we don’t buy from people we don’t like!
The keys to this phase are to be on time or 5 minutes early, be professionally presented, have professional tools e.g. high quality compendium, a good quality pen, professional looking business cards, rate cards etc. There is nothing worse than asking someone for their business card and they pull a dog-eared looking card out of their wallet and hand it over! Your dress and stationary need to be appropriate to the type of clients you are presenting to. I was meeting with a senior executive recently and suggesting the company invest in some very good quality leather compendiums for their sales team. He very graciously pointed out that the majority of their clients were intent on preserving nature – we agreed a recyclable/hessian type compendium would be the order of the day!
You look good, you are on time – now what do you say?
The old school sales trainers would suggest you identify something the buyer may be interested in through observation e.g. they may have a marlin mounted on their office wall – most salespeople would begin by commenting on the fish. I believe there is a factory in China producing these fish to sell to buyers as an accessory to catch newby salespeople who are trying to build rapport!
My recommendation if you are serious about helping the prospect is to thank them for their time, mention your referral source and then get down to business.
Most prospects are short of time and have answered the same fish questions hundreds of times before– respect their time.
We will look at how to set the agenda of your sales meeting in my next article.
Quote of the Week:
Most people think “selling” is the same as “talking”. But the most effective salespeople
know that listening is the most important part of their job.
Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.