Okay, you got me, there is no absolute seven steps to every type of sale for every product to every customer in every business. However, some basics usually apply. They might not always flow in this one through seven order, and you might not require every step, but I think most are essential to making a sale.
Put the Customer at Ease
The prospect might already be at ease, but they aren’t always. If they’re uncomfortable, nervous, or stressed it will be difficult to make a sale. To put the customer at ease, find common ground to discuss. It could be their need for the product, the local team, or the weather. Begin by asking a few questions and then share a little about yourself.
The only way to completely build trust is to deliver on your promises after the sale has been made. But you can establish trust by sharing credentials. Information such as time in business, associations, accreditations, and awards add to a business’s legitimacy, but nothing beats positive testimonials and reviews from satisfied customers for building trust.
“How important are reviews? Let me ask you a question. When you’re considering a company for a product or service where do you begin the vetting process? Is it online? And if it is online what do you look for? Do you search for reviews and testimonials? The vast majority of consumers and businesses do the same. A company searching for your product will likely review you online five or six times before making contact. — How Important Are Reviews for Your Business?
Understand the Customer’s Need
What problem does the customer have, what do they want, and what do they need? Only by learning this will you be able to offer a solution to their problem. To understand their needs, it might be that you need to inspect their facility, watch their team work, or it could be you need to conduct a survey with customers, employees, management or all the above. Regardless, until you understand the client’s pain, you can go no further.
Offer a Solution
If you’ve done your homework and learned what the prospect’s problems are, and not just offered a one size fits all solution that everyone gets from your company, then you have the opportunity to help them. However, if you don’t have the solution, please don’t over promise. “The first key to keeping promises is to know what can be delivered. Don’t guess and don’t lie. What’s that you say? You’ve never lied to a customer? Good for you, but are you certain? Have you ever withheld information from a client because you were afraid of losing their business? How’d that plan work for you? Lying by omission is still a lie.” — Under Promise and Over Deliver? How about just Keeping Your Promises?
Make Your Solution Affordable
One of the keys to finding an affordable solution for your client is to establish a budget early in the conversation. By explaining to your customer that you want to offer the best solution available within their budget you can begin a conversation about what they want to spend.
Ask for the Sale
I asked a group of sales leaders what some of the most common mistakes among new salespeople were. One that was nearly unanimously agreed upon was not asking for the order. To email an estimate or lay a contract in front of a client isn’t asking for the order. If a salesperson has diligently followed the steps above, they have the right to ask for the order, and it doesn’t have to be a pushy hard-sell ask. It can be as simple as, “Would you like to get started on this?” The point is to put the ball in the client’s court and ask them to make a decision whether it’s yes, no, or maybe you’ll at least have an idea where you stand.
It would be nice if every customer said yes the first time you ask, but that’s unrealistic. The problem is the average consumer says no 4 to 6 times before they get to saying yes and the typical salespersons asks for the sale 2 or 3 times. Do the math. And you don’t have to be overly pushy to ask for the sale on follow up. It’s as simple as a routine check back by email, phone, or face-to-face. “I know most people think of questions after I leave so, I wanted to follow up to answer any questions you have.” If they have questions – answer them, and then ask if they’re ready to get the ball rolling.
The Path to Yes
Like I said, this list of seven doesn’t fit every client, salesperson, or situation, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know and understand how to use all seven. Putting a customer at ease, building trust, and finding solutions to their problems within their budget is good start to closing the sale.
Are You in Sales Management?
Are you leading people or managing projects? Do you set goals based on activities to continue, eliminate, or improve or do you strictly look at the results? Do you believe one sales strategy fits all your clients and all your sales team? If so, you’re walking the streets I paved, and those streets lead to disappointment. The good news is if you recognize these behaviors in yourself, you can change. I did. I eventually became a highly effective sales manager and so can you. This workbook is the place to start. The New Sales Managers Workbook
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