For fifty years, there has been very little change in how people sell things. Most of the information is dated, with encouragement to control the customer and spend long periods of time with them, believing the longer you spend with them the more indebted they become. The reality is that people have changed over the last fifty years, so the sales process must change with them.
The first thing you must understand is that the perfect sales process will satisfy all parties involved and increase the effectiveness of the user. People have less time, there is access to more information, both husband and wife are more likely to be employed, and some studies suggest entire generations of buyers have become accustomed to not even engaging with a human being to make a purchase.
The perfect sales process when would have to be fast and easy for the buyer, easy and effective for the salesperson, provide quick and credible information to the buyer, treat the buyer as informed, and ultimately satisfy the customer and the company by consummating a sale.
The first thing I would look at in any sales process is how to shorten and simplify it because of the level of sensitivity buyers demonstrate to time. I have worked with sales organizations and individuals around the world, and the five steps below are what I believe to be a very powerful and succinct selling process. While it must be customized to your market, product or service, the basic format of it will prove effective for all salespeople. This is the shortest number of steps in order to simplify the process and still focus on the most important things you want to accomplish. Many organizations have ten to twelve steps, most of which are skipped, and many of them are resisted.
Here are the most crucial five steps that you must encounter in every sales situation whether it be in person, on the phone, or over the Internet:
The goal of greeting is to introduce yourself, make a good impression, and put the buyer at ease. My goal here is to set the stage for the remaining steps. Simply say “welcome” if they are coming to you and “thanks for seeing me” if you are going to them. In both cases, you must maintain your interest in time. If you don’t yet have a relationship with the client, you don’t want to waste their time or you’re trying to make a great impression of who you are and what you are and what you represent. If you do know them, you don’t want to get caught up in small talk and never get around to business. It is impossible to get rid of this step. What we want to do is use it to open the door to the reason we are there: to move the prospect into a buyer.
For example, “Welcome. Thank you for coming here. What can I get you information on?” (Then transition into the remaining steps.)
2. Determine Wants and Needs
You can either do this by moving into fact-finding or into a consultation stage. The fastest way to do this is to fact find on previous purchases. The purpose of this is twofold: 1) to know what product to show your client and 2) to know how to present the product in a manner that will build value in the presentation and cause them to want to act.
Remember, all purchases or investments are trying to solve a problem of some sort—all of them. You don’t buy a drill because you want a drill you buy a drill because you want to make a hole.
3. Select Product and Present/Build Value
Select for your client rather than allowing them to wander through your inventory and select for themselves. Whether your product is tangible or not does not matter, you have an inventory. Based on what you found out in the first two steps, you would now be able to select and present a solution and how it will benefit the client.
4. Make a Proposal
I always make a proposal—always. Even when people are not ready, I make an offer. Many people suggest not presenting all buyers with figures, but I believe that if you don’t present them, you can never come to an agreement. I am not suggesting that you make an offer before the presentation of the product, but I am suggesting that you aggressively do what you can to get to figures with every buyer in every situation.
5. Close or Exit This is where you find out how much game you have. If you aren’t on your game you must train to be a master at the close. You must first be prepared to CLOSE. Closing the transaction is a completely different art from selling. We were all born to sell, but you have to learn how to close. By survey, this is the one area in which professional salespeople demand help.
A great closer needs hundreds of closes, not just a few. The pro needs a complete commitment to fresh and innovative ways to handle any closing situation that arises.