Your marketing machine is a beauty to behold. People faint at the sight of your shiny sales funnel and your latest marketing campaign is a wonder to behold.
But your sales sucks.
Sometimes this is the kind of conversation I have with people. Of course, sometimes the opposite is also true but I find many more people seem to struggle with sales because they don’t have a good system or self-belief.
So how can we either create a sales process for our team or improve upon our existing one?
The answer is to understand that each sales conversation has a number of discrete steps. If we break down and understand each one and have different tactics for each one then we can hone our sales process until it gets an amazing result and small changes in each step can add up cumulatively to large rewards!
The first step in any sales process is:
Rapport means having a channel of communication in which the other person knows, likes and trusts you and there is an easy flow of communication.
There are many ways of getting rapport.
If you study Neuro-Linguistic-Programming (NLP) then you learn about matching, mirroring and pacing but people often go overkill on these simple techniques.
A much more easy, subtle way is simply to genuinely have an intent to connect with the other person. Our intent has an effect on our behaviour and how we are perceived by others. Simply desiring to connect with them and understand their point of view is enough to have an effect.
This is where having research and data on the person (or their general demographic) is a useful thing. If we can understand their problems and speak to them using their own jargon or industry speak then we are more likely to make a connection.
BUT don’t let data get in the way of a genuine connection. If you think they should be worried about the risk of heart disease and they’re actually concerned about not looking good in jeans then don’t force your point of view upon them… speak to their needs and desires in their language.
The second step is…
There’s no point in going further and deeper in the process unless the client: WANTS the service, NEEDS the service, can USE the service and can AFFORD the service.
Designing a few key questions to get the answers to these questions upfront is very beneficial.
This step will hook in the prospect’s curiosity. You’ve qualified them but they need the hook of knowing that what you’re selling will have some big benefit for them. They will be scanning the whole interaction with the filter of ‘what’s in this for me? Is this relevant?’
One of the important things you can do is to script a statement of value. This is often formatted in its simplest form as “We offer services for [target market] who [problem you solve] which can [key benefits] without [key pain points]… would that be valuable to you?”
This quick statement or question positions your offer as relevant and beneficial from the start which means you’ve brought a small window of their attention in which to pitch.
In this portion of the conversation, it’s time to go deeper. We need to access the client’s emotions. Specifically the pain they’re feeling in connection with the problem you can solve and the pleasure associated with getting the solution you provide.
This is where the bulk of your questions will come in and where the bulk of your attention will be on active listening. Really understanding what the needs and wants of the person in front of you are.
It’s worth writing down a number of different questions that uncover your client’s pain points and potential benefits.
- What would you ideal solution look like?
- What’s holding you back from achieving that?
- If you could overcome these challenges how would that change your situation?
- What does success in this area look like for you?
- What are you criteria for making this decision?
- What concerns do you have about moving forward?
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You should only pitch for as long as you need to. Keep an eye out for buying signals that let you know that the customer is ready to be closed.
This might express itself as eager body language such as sitting forward or nodding a lot or repeating back benefits with enthusiasm or digging for more specific information such as price plans or specifications or dates etc.
At certain points in the conversation after a buying signal you might want to ask a test close question such as:
- If we can get you XYZ, would you want to go ahead?
- Do you have any further questions?
- Is this what you were looking for?
Quite often the customer will bring up objections to moving ahead with the sale. Sometimes these will be legitimate queries that broach into buying signal territory but often they will simply be reactive statements designed to give the customer space to make a decision.
Most people don’t like decision making and want to delay it as much as possible. As a sales professional, your job is to help them to make a powerful decision that serves them. You don’t serve them by letting them meander down every possible avenue of avoidance.
One of the first things to do is to isolate the objection. This means making sure that you’re dealing with the main objection(s.) You could ask:
“If I can solve X will you be ready to go ahead with this deal?”
If they say yes then you just have one objection to deal with. If they bring up other stuff then you’ve uncovered the main areas of conversation you need to have.
There are many ways of handling objections but here are some time-tested ways…
- Ignore the objection. Sounds risky but often the objection really is simply a way of slowing things down and if you simply let it slide it won’t come back up. If it does then you should isolate it and treat it seriously.
- Inoculate the objection. Certain things like TIME and MONEY will always come up so handle them in advance. Bring up the objection as something people often say and give the prospect the reason it doesn’t matter. “Sometimes people say ‘wow that’s expensive’ but I’m sure you can appreciate that with all the added extras and unique craftsmanship that the price is a reflection of the security it provides.”
- Mismatch the objection. Some people won’t do what you ask them to do but will do what you tell them not to do. If someone says it’s too expensive, agree with them. “I agree, this probably isn’t for you…” People will often feel the tug of potential loss and start justifying the opposite.
- FEEL- FELT- FOUND. This is a linguistic pattern that can work nicely to align and reframe the objection. It goes something like this… “I know how you FEEL… I had a friend who FELT that way… what he FOUND was that once he started getting the results he was after the price was irrelevant…he could see that it was worth it…”
The key is always to first ALIGN with the objection. Verify it, agree with it: “Yes, I agree that’s an issue… I appreciate you saying that… a lot of people agree with you…etc.” You have to match someone’s viewpoint to change it. If you challenge it then you just end up in a confrontation of wills.
Finally, you get to seal the deal. There have been whole books written dedicated to this subject but there’s only a few that you really need to know.
- Assumptive Close. Simply assume the sale. If the energy is right and the connection is strong and the buying signals are there then you can often simply say: ‘which card would you like me to use?’ ‘When would you like your first appointment?’ ‘Which address should I ship to?’
- Options Close. An add-on to the assumptive close is to give them two options that assume the sales is already made. ‘Would you like to red or the white?’ ‘Is it Visa or Mastercard?’ ‘Will you collect it Monday or Tuesday?’
Now go and collect some ‘no’s’ to reach the inevitable ‘yes’ and remember that sales is simple but the key is tenacity.
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