Seriously? You are in Sales?
Many years ago, the sales career was much easier, today, times have changed. Sales professionals must continuously update and upgrade themselves with the latest technology and sales techniques.
In the 1990s, I learnt from Mr. Tom Hopkins the 7 steps of sales:
- Original Contact
- Addressing Concerns
- Closing the Sales
- Getting Referrals
Today’s clients are better informed and better connected. They are spoilt for choice, sales organizations and sales professional have to be better equipped and work the extra mile to get the sales.
We need to work much harder with more process in between:
In today’s world, it is all about branding. Potential customers form beliefs about a product or service based on their perceived perception. Based on the trend and lifestyle, prospects want to be associated with a brand even before they own it. Companies invest a lot of money into the company logo, taglines and slogans to continuously build their brands. Individual sales professionals need to put in a lot of effort into building your own unique brand to distinguish yourself from the rest of the pack.
Your ongoing marketing efforts in the online social media and offline print media will help your suspects, prospects and customers see, hear, feel and remember you regularly. Put a lot of efforts into the details of your marketing exercise like marketing materials. Any small mistakes can cause the marketing efforts and marketing dollars go down the drain.
Social networking is a must, be it online or offline. Networking expands your reach and circle of influence. For individuals, there are many voluntary organizations one can join to get to know others. From strangers to acquaintances, from suspects to prospects, you never know when someone might one day become your customers. One can also network with others in the same industry, once a great relationship and trust is built up, you can even cross-sell each other’s products and refer clients to each other.
4. Data gathering
You need to know yourself, know your customers and know your competitors. Today, you can search for almost any information you need. Google gives you the flexibility to search for information by pulling the information from the World Wide Web, while Google Alert will automatically push information to you on a daily basis. You can also gather information directly by spending time with your prospects. You need to know your own strengths and weaknesses in Sales, you need to know your customers to find out their needs and you need to know your competitors to know where you stand and your chances of success.
Everyone is a suspect to become a potential prospect and ultimately become a customer; using the data you gather, do a detailed analysis on all your suspects. Once they meet the criteria you have laid down, they are now your prospects. Prospecting prevents you from unnecessarily wasting time trying to sell to people you know will never become one of your client.
After prospecting, we need to find out the real needs of the prospects. Whether they can really afford the investments, whether they need the products and services and whether it is the right time for them to make the informed decision. Qualifying is really a great opportunity for us to connect with the potential customers. Make the calls!
7. Building Rapport
People must like you before they are willing to listen to you. The ability to build rapport with almost everyone, fast, is a must, for all Sales Professionals. When they trust you enough, they will listen to what you have to offer and you have a higher chance that they will buy your products or services.
8. Needs Analyzing
Needs, wants and desires of customer changes, analyzing their needs is an ongoing process. Every 4 to 6 months, we need to connect with our prospects and customers to be updated on what are their latest needs. In a 12 months period, some companies might have gone through major changes like M&A, expansion, retrenchments, gone public etc; for individuals, they might have change their jobs, change where they stay, moved to another city or country, had a new baby and some might have even changed their partners.
Based on accurate needs analysis, Sales professional can now prepare a tailor made proposal for the customers. “Proper Preparation prevents Poor Performance.” A well-prepared proposal is half way to successfully closing the sales. Prepare for the presentation, rehearse it and go for the “Showtime”.
“Sales is the Transference of Confidence and the Transformation of Emotions”. During the presentation, your confidence comes from how well prepared you have been. Your prospects can feel your confidence level and a good presentation is the opportunity to transform the client’s emotion, build it up till the point when they say “Yes”.
11. Trial Closing
In every presentation, plan regular questions along the journey to solicit “Yes” answers. Every once in a while, go for the trial close. If the customer is not ready to go ahead, keep presenting and do trial close a few minutes later. If the customer said “Yes” to completing the deal, just stop presenting and finish the sale. Do not talk past the point of sales. Once the point passes, it will be much harder to close the deal.
There will some customers who really want your products and services, but they just want to bargain for some discounts or get some add-ons. Negotiating the deal is fun, this is when we know where is our bottom-line, where is the end of the line and create a win-win situation for the deal.
13. Objection Handling
An objection is not a rejection. Objections from your prospects only tells you that you have not given them strong enough reasons to say “Yes”. At this point of the sales process, they are considering your products or services, but not yet fully convinced. When they throw genuine concerns and objections at you, accept and receive them with open arms. Once these concerns are addressed, you can now go in for the final push and complete the sales.
14. Transaction and Delivery
Now that the deal is closed, signed and sealed, do you deliver what you promised? When someone pays you the money to get your products or services, there is a transaction of values. Your customers value the benefits of the products or services more than the money. Always try to under-promise and over-deliver. If you promised to deliver the products in 10 days, try to get it to them in 7 days. Go the extra mile, give additional goodies and in the long term, you will get the returns many times over on your small investments.
Customer satisfaction is a forward and upward moving escalator. Yesterday’s great will be today’s good and tomorrow’s average. Customer’s demands are always growing, their appetites are always expanding and their expectations are always increasing. Companies and Professionals need to keep upgrading their level of customer service as this is a never-ending journey. Everyone loves that special touch.
It cost you 6 to 9 times more marketing dollar and efforts to get a new customer compared to having repeat sales from your existing clients. Provide bundle packages or add on services so that you can increase your customers frequency of repeat buying from you and increase the dollar value per purchase.
17. Getting Referrals
Many things have changed, but the best marketing strategy is still Word of Mouth marketing. Nothing beats the path of least resistance when a satisfied customer tells their friends they have to go to you for the best products or services. Get referrals every time, all the time!
Seriously, if you have what it takes to handle all the 17 elements of Sales and Selling, you are a true blue Sales Professional.