As you know, a sale isn’t something we can wrap and seal in a handkerchief. If it was that easy, you wouldn’t be reading this for a better solution. Let’s face it; you can’t lose something you don’t have in the first place. Although some salespeople will think they have a sale before they actually have it in their hands, the ink is drying and the delivery truck has pulled away.
Salespeople lose sales because they get lost in the process.
If you have been in sales for a while you know that sales are almost 100% predictable. If we follow the sales process, we will always come to a conclusion that is favorable to us unless we skip a step or overlook something and it is always our fault for missing something. This is where we get lost.
Some salespeople don’t realize how important these steps are and that there are consequences to not following the order of these steps. Because of this, salespeople get lost in the sequence and sometimes try to skip steps of the process. This is how sales are lost. For the typical sales, non-retail I recommend a six step process with a magical seventh step that shortens the sales cycle when applied consistently.
Some people combine these steps and that might be OK but you can’t skip any of them or your will lose. I divide the steps into two segments, Hunting and Farming because the first part is really hunting for the prospect and identifying the right prospects. The second part is like farming because we are building a relationship that might take months to nurture before the opportunity becomes ripe. Here are the steps in brief order.
1. The prospect must pass the “IF” test. This test is applied with questions to find out “IF” they are a real prospect, the test is ‘IF” they fit the profile of our perfect customer. “IF” they do not, we find another prospect.
2. The salesperson must then discover the “WHO” of the prospect. This is the true contact or contacts in the company or organization that we must meet with for an opportunity. This is achieved through questioning to identify the right prospect person.
3. The salesperson must then identify the “W’s” or pain points of the prospect. This is also achieved through questioning and research and an appointment is often the best way to discover this. These W’s are when, where, why, what issues that confirm our next step.
4. If we did our job in step three, we move over to the farming stage of the sales process which is really the “OPPORTUNITY” stage. Ideally we want to identify three “OPPORTUNITIES” which are solid pain points the prospect wants eliminated from their business or life. Once we have these identified, we can move to step five.
5. Step five is the easiest stage of all; it is the “PRESENTATION” stage of the sale. This is where the salesperson can combine all they have learned about the prospects problems and issues and at the right time, presents their solution. If everything was followed according to the process, the solution will be on target and received warmly for the next step.
6. Step six is the “CLOSE”. If you reach this point, the sale should be a slam dunk and a sealed deal because you have followed the process with a remedy for a solution the prospect wants.
7. The seventh step is magical because you can capture more business through a “REFERRAL” and a reference from the prospect and slip into the fourth step on the next opportunity and bypass the first three steps.
By John Hester