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Work your sales process to succeed

Know the Score

Posted: May 24, 2008 3:04 p.m.
Updated: July 25, 2008 5:04 a.m.
 
Everyone would agree that a structured sales method is needed for maximum efficiency, yet we all know of companies that ignore this fact. Without a set of steps or structure, sales are lost or ineffective so the process in use has to be assessed.

Perhaps your problem is that you haven't taken the time to develop and implement a sales process.
This may be because you viewed it as "busywork" with too many forms to fill out, or you felt that your sales team would perceive it as a "control" tactic. Whatever your reason for delay, now is the time to correct the error and increase sales.

To do this we must evaluate our reasoning about our customers.

Instead of asking, "What do we need to do to close this deal?" you should be asking, "What does the customer need to do in order to buy?"

This change results in a major shift in how you think about the job of selling. Consider these points:
- What is the buying process of this customer? We need to know what it will take, and who needs to be involved for this client to make a purchase.

- Where is our client in their buying processes? Is your client a day or two away from signing a contract, or are they still "kicking the tires?"

- What is the next reasonable step they must take? If you can figure out where they are and what it's going to take to make them buy, then we can find the next logical step for them to take.

- What can we do to get them to take that step? Once we know what our customer needs to do next, then we can figure out what we need to do next in our selling process.

We should operate with the knowledge that everything we do in our sales process is done to help our clients do what they need to do to buy. Any action that we take that is not done with the intent of empowering or encouraging our client to move closer to a purchase is wasted energy.

The same logic holds true for any meetings with company executives of your prospect. Ask yourself what exactly is it that you want your client to do as a result of this meeting? You should never go into any meeting without a plan of what you want that meeting to accomplish.

Do you want that company bigwig to:

- Endorse your plan, and have you meet with some of the other executives?

- Schedule a meeting where you can bring in an associate to provide a better under-standing of how your product will benefit this client?

- Commit to or schedule a time to meet again with you for your recommendations for meeting their needs?

Always have a plan of action before you deal with your sales prospect so that it's a fruitful use of time.
This may seem like a lot of work before the sale, but remember before you drive over to see a client - or worse, get on an airplane to fly there - if we don't have a knowledge of their buying process and where they are in that process, we won't know what to say or do to enable them.

Then we are nothing more than a professional visitor - not a professional sales person.

Maureen Stephenson is a local author and owner of REMS Publishing & Publicity. Her column represents her own views, and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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