‘Sales’ is an art, but there are strategies that can be applied to channel that art. For some, the idea of cold calling, negotiating and so on, feels extrovertly pushy, or like a loss of integrity. But, ultimately, businesses need to make sales to make money. So, build a sales process that’s aligned with your strengths, weaknesses and values – but remember, a sales process can be different for everyone. Adapt it to your needs.
The trick is ensuring your sales strategy helps nurture your leads, so your sales team don’t spend ages sending impersonal pitches and speaking to the wrong people. Marketing, synced with sales, is the obvious solution here to help build relationships and generate interest. However, every sales conversation can play the same role.
Try this simple 5-step process to standardise your approach and help close more deals.
Step 1 – Ask questions:
The first step is by far the most important one. Before trying to actually ‘sell’ anything, you need to ask the right questions and listen. If you are talking a lot, you aren’t asking the right questions. Find out about your prospect’s needs, personal goals, challenges, what success looks like for them, competitors, passions, internal relationships and more. The more you find out, the better relationship you’ll be able to build. Be empathetic when listening – make sure the prospect knows you’ve understood their challenges. If you find out you are speaking with the wrong person, that is still valuable information. Find out the right person to speak with. This stage is critical to how you will later position your solution.
Tip: Adopt a BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Time) approach to find out the right information before moving on to the next stage.
Step 2 – Confirmation:
Once you’ve asked the right questions and gathered the information you need, make confirmation statements to ensure you are on the same page and let the prospect know you were paying attention. An example of that would be, ‘To recap, you want to…’, or, ‘By what you’ve said, the biggest challenge you are facing is…’. Make sure the prospect understands that you understand them.
Tip: Confirm once more you are talking to the key decision-maker. You don’t want to waste time trying to sell to someone who has no buying power. If the person is not the key decision-maker, they still might be an influencer so still focus on building a relationship.
Step 3 – Outline the vision:
Next, outline what it would look like if you work together. Paint the picture. You know what they want to hear as they’ve already told you what success looks like and what their biggest challenges are. Bring their goals and dreams to life. Emotion drives purchasing, so really connect with their specific goals and focus on the ‘why’. Deliver this with passion and conviction to create trust. Treat it almost like telling a story.
Tip: Don’t sell products or services, sell a vision.
Step 4 – Provide the solution:
Once you’ve got them eating out of your hand with emotive messaging, it’s time to move on to the more rational activities, such as what exactly you are selling and how they can implement it or benefit from it. This is where your product/service pitch comes in. Deliver a compelling and clear solution to the prospect’s challenges, how much it will cost, and 3rd party validation, such as testimonials, clients or case studies, and how long it takes to get started. You also need to be prepared for objections here. Tell stories to overcome them. For instance, ‘I understand, we worked with a similar customer called X who had the same issue, but when we did X they actually really benefitted from it’. Most importantly, avoid all the sales jargon and don’t be pushy.
Tip: Bring your pitch to life with a presentation, but don’t end on the price page. End back with the vision. Remember, sell the vision.
Step 5 – Close:
The final stage is closing. You’ve already painted the picture and described how you can provide the solution, now you need to find out if they are interested. Ask if they have any remaining questions or if they would be open to exploring this further. Some sales tactics here include generating urgency or pressure to close the deal, but that can lead to the prospect feeling more uncomfortable. If you’ve done the previous steps well, most prospects will say they want your help.
Tip: If the prospect says no, find out why. The timing could simply be wrong, or there could be another reason why the prospect is saying no.
This approach probably won’t work for everyone, but the good news is every business can choose how they want to sell. Find what works for you.