THE 6 STEP SALES PROCESS
We have touched base on the 5 critical things you must do when selling, the 6 step sales process kind of borders on what I talked about previously in this chapter, only I am about to go a little deeper. Are you ready? Let’s dive more into selling effectively!
In my sales training sessions, I talk a lot about the sales process. I like a 6 step process personally. The first step is research, the second is about prospecting, the third is doing a discovery session, the fourth is working on the presentation, the fifth is doing the work and lastly, the sixth step is about nurturing the relationship so you can develop a life-long customer.
Step 1) Research the market
You have to study the market you are in. Know their challenges, the issues of the day and know how you can help your market overcome those.
Also study how your industry impacts your clients positively! Tap into your industry’s trade association. Did you know that almost each industry has a trade association?
You can go to your major library in your area and ask for a trade association directory to look up the proper association for you.
Your trade association offers tips, conferences, trade shows, events and resources about your industry that can help you communicate the value of what you do for your prospects and customers.
So research, get to know your markets needs and get to know how you help them!
In the research step, this is really about a few key things…one is getting to know your prospects and customers ahead of the call. It’s about “warming up” the prospecting process. No one likes to cold call, but when you meet clients and prospects ahead of the call, it’s much easier to call, follow up and book that “discovery” meeting.
Step 2) Warm up the prospecting process
Ways to warm up the call include some of the things we have talked about already in the book. The key way is to network. Networking is about joining the myriad of business networking groups that are based in your community.
The logical choice group for business networking to me is to join the local Board of Trade or Chamber of Commerce.
In Canada, log onto the Canadian Chamber of Commerce site to access the appropriate Chamber or Board of Trade in your area at http://www.chamber.ca and in the United States tap into the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at http://www.uschamber.com
The Chamber is not only a place to meet other business owners but also it can be a terrific resource for information to help you research your venture. It’s also the voice or a lobby group that acts on behalf of Small Business owners to ensure the governments are acting in good faith when it comes to legislation, programs and incentives for small business.
Your local Chamber or Board of Trade hosts business meetings and networking events. As you attend and meet other business owners, you get to share your ideas, tips, tools to help others that attend. It’s a givers gain mentality you need to have when networking and the goal is to build relationships and have those that you meet be dazzled and amazed at how great you are! In other words look at building trust with those you meet!
There are a ton of networking groups in your area, the Chamber/Board is my first choice, but there are others like BNI, (Business Networking International), trade associations, women’s groups, moms in business, men’s networking groups etc… the list is long, choose wisely!
Once you meet, network and agree to connect with each other afterwards – the prospecting process or that call to book a meeting is a lot easier than making a cold call. You’ve warmed up the call.
Another way to warm up the prospecting process is to write, speak, volunteer in your community, just get known for the great work you do and focus on your reputation and helping people before going after the sale at every turn. If you’re truly helping others, they will come to you, you won’t have to cold call so much. You have literally built a reputation as being someone in the know in your industry and when you communicate that knowledge by networking, writing, speaking, volunteering, I promise you, your reputation will warm up the cold call time and time again!
I am not against cold calling or prospecting – sometimes opportunities arise where you have to talk it up to a stranger. Never be afraid to talk about the value of what you do when you meet someone for the first time.
Value by the way is the sum of the benefits you offer a potential client minus the cost equals your value. Your products have value, your products do something to help someone else. You need to get clear about how your products help someone and what they do to better the lives or businesses of others and be able to communicate that in a prospecting call.
Your services have value too…be clear on how your services helps someone’s life or business and be able to articulate that too in a cold call or prospecting call…Do your services save money or time? Do they reduce pain? Give someone pleasure and ease?
What is the end result? What do your clients and prospects get when they work with you?
Your other benefits focus on brand and relationship benefits. A brand benefit is when you trust the brand, you know it, you can rely on it, you can count on it. Think of McDonald’s and Heinz Ketchup here – they do a great job of focusing on the brand. Even a two year old knows about McDonald’s.
If you’re new or relatively new in business, when it comes to branding you, you want to first of all have a consistent look, logo and feel to your company, you want to be consistent in what you do for your clients and be consistent in the field you’re in.
Great companies have failed because the customer didn’t know what they stood for anymore. I think Sears in both Canada and the U.S. needs to re-invent itself and focus on its successes and communicate that time and time again to reinforce a more updated, positive and successful image.
The customer isn’t clear on what Sears is up too given the branding and positioning work that Wal-Mart and Target have done to build clarity of the business offering in the minds of the customer.
The last bit of value is about the benefits of the relationship your clients have with you. What do they think of when they think of you?
When you think of Fedex what do you think of?
When you think soft drink what brand comes to mind?
When you think of a tissue to sneeze in, who do you think of?
These companies have done a good job at positioning themselves in the mind of its customers so that when you think of that product or service you have a positive feeling and relationship towards them and that their company is the one you will want to do business with.
Step 3) Discovery sessions – that first meeting
Lets continue with the sales process. The goal for me when I prospect is to get a meeting. It’s not to make a sale on the phone. Chances are selling something on the phone won’t work, but if you can say something that might arouse interest in your prospect on the phone, if you can share how they will benefit from working with you, or if you can share a success story about how you’ve helped another client and how you would love to help that prospect or customer get the same value or experience, then you’ve done a great job.
The goal of prospecting is to get a face to face meeting to see what the needs, budgets, wants, challenges, goals and hopes are of your customer.
I call phase 3 of the sales process, the “Discovery Process”. I was taught this by Eric and Margarida Laffoley when I first started my business. The “discovery” is about you just going in and finding out more information about your clients and to assess if you can help them and if they are a good fit for you too.
It’s a fact finding mission, where you ask critical questions to assess where your customer is at and where they want to go and if you can help them get there.
I liken it to when you go to doctor for your check-up. Your doctor will assess you, examine you, ask questions and then recommend a strategy to help you get better or maintain your health.
The discovery is like this. You examine your customer or prospect and then make some recommendations.
This dovetails nicely into the 4th step and that is when you make your presentation.
Step 4) Make your presentation
You want to ultimately present ideas, solutions and actions your clients can take with you that has their objectives, budgets and goals in mind.
It is in this stage too, that you ask for the sale.
You might hear an objection first too…but that’s okay, you still have the customer and an objection is really about something your customer/prospect needs to resolve before they say yes. If your customer objects about money or time or your expertise ask them what do you want, what do they need from you in order to resolve this issue?
If you can offer what they want, do it. But, if you need to think about it…you then get into a little negotiating. When negotiating always hold true to your needs. If you compromise your needs, you can compromise your business.
In negotiations, don’t act too fast as you may come off looking desperate. Don’t give up anything until asked. Trade off on what your customer wants. If they want a discount, then ask for something in return. For example, I can give you a discount in exchange for being paid up front. This way, you both win.
Finally, when your customer does object, and you have solved it, be sure to ask again, is there anything else holding you back from working with us. There may be other objections that you didn’t know about and you have to minimize all objections before you go for the close.
Step 5) Do the work for the client
The next step is about doing the work. This 5th step of the sales process is important. You want to use this step to show how professional you are. Stay in touch with your client, ask questions if you need too, check to see if your client is happy with you and get feedback. Stay professional!
Step 6) Build relationships
Lastly the 6th step is to continue to develop that business relationship. Send a thank you card for the deal, take your client to lunch to get to know them on a more personal level, ask for a referral if they are happy and continue to communicate to your clients.
You can communicate with a newsletter, or by having an event, inviting your client to a networking meeting with you, or maybe even going to a ball game together. The key is to stay in touch with the client, let them know of any sales, promotions and events you’re offering.
Use social media not to promote and sell, but to nurture relationships…since there are a million messages, tweets and video’s (YouTube) being posted each day, make sure your using social media to re-inforce your brand, your relationships and the position you want to be known for in the marketplace.
Sadly, even on social media, people judge you based on what you’re putting out there!
The bottom line is it costs more to get a new client than it does to keep one!
So warm up the prospecting process…follow the 6 step sales process…and work it…become a student of selling and you will never work for anyone else again!
Trust counts most
Don’t downplay the trust factor. People say that perception is everything. In some circles they say that perception is at least 90% of reality. Whatever the case may be, you have to build trust. Your client has to trust that you will come through for him when he needs you.
Recently, I was in a pharmacy at night. I’d had a long day that day but Mr. Checkout man apparently had an even tougher day than I did. He was grumpy. He didn’t smile or thank his customers even once. When I got to the checkout, I got bold. “Hey man, why the sad face?” I asked. “Oh, I have had a rough day,” he told me. Then I added, “So have I, but you are serving me and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to smile even though you have had a rough day. Besides, life’s not so bad.”
My response didn’t change his disposition, but I tell you one thing, I will think twice about shopping at that store. I have basically lost trust in the level of service that I will get.
So what can you do to build trust? Here are some ideas:
Be consistent in your performance.
Vow to wow your customer.
Continue to send marketing material to your client.
Seek to inform and not to sell in your marketing material.
When you do inform your client then back it up with real statistics and data.
Be the expert—do whatever you can to become the expert in what it is you do.
The new way to sell is about being bold, getting attention, knowing your stuff, learning about and researching the customer, asking questions, building relationships, developing trust and solving problems. It’s not the old “smoke and mirrors” game it once was. It is an art in a plethora of personal dynamics that you should be proud to learn about and execute. It works. You have to understand business, personalities, how to use psychology and how to use the right words to communicate clearly.