If you are interested in developing sales professionals with master-level skills, this article gives you a method that will absolutely help you accomplish this.
But it’s not necessarily the content of the following ‘Seven Steps to Every Successful Sale’ that will make this article a ‘game-changer’ for you. These seven steps to every sale are fairly universal. There is, however, a principle that is essential for success with these steps.
No skill is gained by mere intellectual agreement
There is a missing ingredient to almost every sales training program, and it’s not information. In fact, the “better” sales training programmes usually have more and better information, and even more advanced ideas and concepts. I’ve attended trainings on Neuro Linguistic Programming, for example, and been quite impressed with the idea of it, but have come away with no acquired skill.
Herein lies the problem with most sales training programs: You DO NOT gain skill by intellectual agreement. For example, you might be very capable of understanding the principle behind a tennis top-spin forehand, but to be able to do it, you have to practice. To do it perfectly every time, you have to practice it continually.
If you’ve ever been part of a highly trained team, you probably recognise the sense of confidence that translates into success. The secret to building an excellent sales force (or team of any kind) is in repeating core training on basic sales skills, again and again.
The levels of learning
The lowest level of learning is memorisation. It is easy to memorise the seven steps to every sale, but that does not mean that you can apply them. However, it is an excellent starting point.
The highest level of learning is known as synthesis. This means that you have learned the material so well that you can synthesise it into your own style and method of doing things. Synthesis requires a lot of repetition and practice.
To achieve synthesis in your sales team, begin by having them commit the seven steps to memory, then set about polishing each skill area until your people are masters of each.
The Seven Steps to Every Sale:
- Establish rapport. You will find that you close a much higher percentage of sales if you have good, solid rapport with your client. The ultimate definition of rapport is: They like you, they trust you, and they respect you. Respect and trust lead to influence. Influence leads to control over your market or the buying situation at hand. Work with your staff to design examples for establishing rapport.
- Qualify the buyer (find the need). To reset a customer’s buying criteria in favor of your product or service, you must begin by gaining a complete understanding of his or her current buying criteria. Develop the six to ten questions that you would like to know about every prospect before you begin to present your product or service. Drill these questions into your salespeople until every one of them can recite them by heart.
- Build value. After you have assessed your customers buying criteria, you must begin to build value around your product or service. Make a presentation at this point in the sales process. The presentation should be targeted to the buyer, not to your product or service.
- Create desire. Be clear on this important point: Your buyer will be a lot more motivated if they recognise that their current situation is unacceptable. To create desire, you must motivate your buyer using a combination of problems and solutions, even if you are the one pointing out the problems that they haven’t really considered.
For example, one company that sold information services to accountants showed the accountants how much new tax information (statutes, regulations, tax law, tax cases, etc.) they have to know each year. This information made the accountants feel overwhelmed and predisposed to purchasing anything that would help them survive the tax-information overload. The company actually helped create the “overload” by introducing the accountants to the very real market statistics that existed but no one else was showing them. It was very, very powerful.
- Overcome objections. A talented salesperson does such a good job on finding the need that objections are covered earlier in the sales process. A top salesperson will qualify the buyer’s buying criteria right down to his or her toes, before they even begin to sell. However, an “objection” can still surface when it is time to close the sale (see below). If you remember that “an objection is an opportunity to close,” you will always be happy to hear one. For example,
- The client states an objection: “I’d love to buy it, but I just can’t afford it right now.”
Agree that the objection is valid. The client will drop his or her guard: “If you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it (meaningful pause). But let me ask you a question: Is money the only thing standing between you and the purchase of this product?” At this point, if there are more objections, they will surface. If not, the client will say, “No, if I could afford it, I’d buy it.” You have just moved a huge step closer to closing the sale.
- Lock down the sale: You say, “So, if I can find a way for you to afford this product, you will buy it?”If the client says yes, you have just closed the sale. You will now need to be more creative in the financing of the product or service or help create more desire, so the prospect will pay the extra money to buy the product or service.
- Getting commitment is key to closing the sale. In truth, the best salespeople I have witnessed do not “close”, they “bring the sale to a logical conclusion.” They have helped set up such a logical buying criteria that the prospect and the salesperson walk to the close together. That being said, it should also be stated that most people need help making decisions
This article cannot cover all the aspects of closing a sale, but it can cover the oldest close of all: assuming the sale. Do this by asking a question like, “Who do we send the bill to?” or “How did you want to pay for this?”
- Follow up – Last but not least, be prepared for The Cool-Off Factor. Because enthusiasm and rapport are extremely influential in the sales process, a salesperson must know that a prospect is going to “cool off” after the salesperson leaves the room.
How do you avoid this? Follow up strongly after the sale! Email was the greatest invention for a salesperson. A good follow-up email sent hours after the sale, or the next day at the latest, can go a long way toward avoiding the cool-off factor.
These seven steps are core sales skills and procedures. Just as football coaches must constantly train their players on running off the ball and passing, sales managers must constantly train their players on polishing every angle of the Seven Steps to Every Sale.
Smart companies build tools, policies, and procedures that support these seven steps. The more systems and best-practice examples you set, the higher the performance you can expect from every level of talent.
P.S Go forth and master The Seven Steps to Every Sale. Only constant practice and repetition will create master-level salespeople.
If you have any questions or observations, please post them below.