Understanding the process of selling when in business
“Its all about listening first … then selling” – Erik Qualman
There are many great company profiles out there with some fantastic business models, very marketable products, and business to business services but it’s all very well having marketing plans in place and being ready to rock and roll in the sales arena, but do you have the skills and the experience you really need to ensure you can inspire your prospective customers to buy?
Sales is so often perceived as being easy, yet all too often we hear some great entrepreneurial people who have designed and created these concepts with viable business plans and well-structured marketing resources but then find they really aren’t equipped to get out there and brave the huge levels of competition we all face, and actually close those sales. Phrases like “I don’t really know where to start with this sales stuff” and “I’m not the pushy type” are quite often ones we hear.
So, we have realised we need to visit the selling process that gets those orders clocking up and generating revenue curves in the right direction to achieve the success we all thrive on.
Download our planning templates for FREE:
- What is your target market?
- Where does it sit geographically? Are there any limitations?
- Who are the contacts within those companies that we need to speak to?
- Are there other key influencers who we need to involve?
Whilst the answers to these questions form elements of today’s marketing strategies, they also position you on the starting block for selling. This is why the two have always been so closely linked and very often used to be the responsibility of one business directive.
From Marketing to Prospecting
The modern digital marketing techniques create environments to market our businesses, and the culture of constant communication means that marketing now demands a planning process in its entirety, but one which still has an integral link to sales. It links to the first stage of sales defined as ‘Prospecting‘, where we identify all those companies, organisations or individuals that would benefit from our products and services and to whom we are going to sell.
Prospecting nowadays is a fun and an easy first stage of selling. Long gone is the need to spend hours sifting through the yellow pages and then making endless phone calls. Google has enabled this stage to be an area where productivity soars, so planning and information gathering (and populating a client database) is the place we start. Remember that logging all the information is hugely important because we aren’t going to speak to the right person first time, every time … if only it were so easy! The people we need to speak to and arrange to meet (before we even engage with selling) will potentially be in meetings, on the phone, out of the office, on holiday, off sick … it’s a game of numbers and quite a frustrating one at times!!
Talking to lots of people is the crucial part, as the famous Jim Rohn said: “To succeed in sales, simply talk to lots of people every day……and here’s what’s exciting … there are lots of people”
Thinking about your prospects
We need to immerse ourselves in our customers market place and continually consider questions like “What are they going to need (to make the decision to buy)?” “What is going to help them improve and cope with changes in their own market place?”. In a nutshell it’s PYITS … Put Yourself In their Shoes, and consider What is in your deal for Them!
We need to learn how to create Value for our customers which means that we need to get to know them inside and out and map their routes to market.
Are we speaking to the right person?
We need to be crystal clear about who we are speaking to. We need the Decision Maker (DM) … i.e. the person who can make the purchase decision; there is nothing worse than going through a full presentation of your offering only to find that they are not actually able to buy and that they need to introduce you to someone else.
There is an old sales adage that defines this process clearly as establishing M.A.N. Quite simply: MONEY, AUTHORITY and NEED … it’s helpful to remember these basic principles in considering who we can speak to, and who will our customers be.
Having recognised the need in squaring who we are speaking to, we must face the fact that very often there may be more than one DM. Statistics say that the numbers of people involved with the buying and procurement processes for a business has increased, it used to be around 3.6 and it’s now 6.8!
Other people in the process are known as influencers. and it’s an essential part of the planning stage that determines who they are, what part they play, and what indeed will inspire them to recognise the value that you bring to their organisation.
Further Selling Thoughts
One of our next stages of learning in the sales process is the need to be able to use Questioning Techniques (another future article which we will share). These techniques create the ability to be able to ask the right sort of questions and, using the right manner and at the right time, you will garner all the information you need to plan your pitch.
Listening techniques are essential and also crucial … the two ears and one mouth scenario which has so often been used to illustrate so clearly ideal sales behaviour, is again terribly old but still so apt!
As a final overview of learning the sales skills that will enable us to build and grow our businesses successfully, consider these resounding facts.
- Sales is about enabling our potential customers to buy from US
- It is about Inspiring them to buy … NOT manipulating them
- And most importantly … PEOPLE BUY PEOPLE!
The process of understanding your sales funnel, being skilled in following your sales processes and closing sales is a skill that can be learned – seek out expert support and training to take your selling skills to the next level!