Selling All-in-One For Dummies
Becoming a top salesperson requires much more than asking a customer questions and then pitching your products and services. To become a great salesperson, you need to master a number of skills and have command of a lot of facts. In the following articles, you can find information on the six key tasks in any sales encounter, as well as a process that can help you boost the number of referrals you get so you can make more sales.
The Six-Step Selling Cycle
The selling cycle breaks down neatly into six steps. Each of these steps is equally valuable and plays a critical role in building a successful career in sales. If you perform each step correctly, the last step (getting referrals) leads you back to the first (making contacts for new prospects). Your happy new client or customer will give you the names of other people she feels would benefit from your product or service, and then you have your next lead or prospect to work with.
Here are the six steps that make up the selling cycle:
Prospect for your next potential client or customer.
Prospecting means finding the right potential buyer for what you’re selling. When considering your product or service, ask yourself, Who would benefit most from this? and then look for ways to make contact with those people.
To make an informed decision about which prospects to approach, do some research about any prospective client company at the local library or online. You’ll do even more qualification when you meet a prospective client, but why waste time on an appointment with a company or person who wouldn’t need your offering?
Make initial contact.
To persuade another person to give you her valuable time, you need to offer something of value in return. For example, to gain entrance to someone’s home, consider offering a free estimate or gift in exchange for her opinion on the demonstration of your product. With a business-to-business appointment, getting an appointment may be a bit easier because you’re often working with a purchasing agent whose job it is to meet with and gather information from people like you. If you offer anything remotely like a product that her company may use, it’s her duty to investigate what you have to offer.
Qualify the prospective clients or customers.
Find out whether the prospective client or customer is qualified to be your client. In selling, qualifying your prospects means finding out not just who they are but also what they do, what they have, and what they need in order to confirm that your product or service is a good fit and that they have the resources to invest in it.
Win over the prospects with your presentation.
Your presentation of your product, service, or idea requires the most preparation. In your preparation, practice your answers to common questions with a family member or fellow salesperson. Make a list of the benefits you think are your strongest persuaders in placing your product. Then figure out a way to work those points into responses to the common questions that potential clients ask.
Address the prospective client’s or customer’s concerns.
The best way to handle negative comments or concerns your prospect may raise is to answer in simple, unemotional terms and have recommendations in mind. For example, if your product is available only in certain colors, and none of them quite fit the décor of your prospect’s office, be prepared to point out the least offensive color as being somewhat complementary to her décor. In fact, when you get around to discussing the colors, suggest something like this: Based on your color scheme, the Sunrise Blue would best complement your décor. That way, you’ve already seen and addressed the objection before the prospect brought it up.
Close the sale.
If you’ve researched your prospect properly, given yourself enough valuable preparation time, and handled all the previous steps in a professional manner, you’ll likely close the sale. Closing should follow naturally and smoothly after you address your prospect’s concerns. In fact, getting your prospect’s business can be as simple as saying, How soon do we start? At this point, if you’re confident about being able to give her what she needs, you should begin taking verbal ownership of your future business relationship with assumptive statements and questions.
Getting Referrals in Six Easy Steps
With this six-step process to obtaining referrals, you’ll have so much success in developing your referral business that you’ll make it an automatic part of every selling situation. Begin by setting a goal for how many referrals you want from each contact. Start with a goal of just one referral and work your way up to getting at least three referrals with every contact you make. You may even be able to get as many as five or ten referrals from every client by implementing this simple strategy!
Help your client think of specific people he knows.
When you ask for referrals, you can’t give your client the whole world to think about. Help him focus on a particular group of faces. Centering on one or two faces is impossible when his thoughts are bouncing off the wall with his new offering, so use the information you’ve gathered about him, such as friends and family or other business associations he has, to get him focused again.
Write the referrals’ names on cards.
Write down the names of those referrals on 3-x-5 index cards or a small notepad. (Be sure to ask how to spell the names of the referrals.) Keep the cards out so you can jot down the information your client gives you (see Step 3).
Ask qualifying questions about the referrals.
Here’s some information you may want to know when you contact the referrals:
What made the client think of these particular referrals?
What do the referrals use in place of your product now?
How would the referrals use the product?
How did the referrals react to the news that the client was shopping for your product?
When you get in touch with the referrals, you’ll be able to begin a conversation based on information you got from your client. When you’ve taken a few good notes, move on to the next step.
Ask for the referrals’ contact information.
Asking for the contact information of the referrals is more difficult because your client may not know this information offhand. But don’t let that deter you. You can’t just settle for the name because he may not be listed in the phone book or may have a common name that makes tracking him down difficult. And knowing how to contact the referral is critical to successfully selling him. At the very least, try to get the full name and a phone number or e-mail address.
Ask the client to call and set up your meeting with the referrals.
Few clients will be comfortable calling to set up a meeting for you. But they’ll be so relieved that you offer to do it yourself (see Step 6) that they’ll jump on it. If you go directly from Step 4 to Step 6, you may not get the same response. This step is where most novice salespeople balk. They won’t even try it. But keep in mind that this question is simply setting the stage for the final step.
If the client shows nervousness or refuses to call, ask if you can use the client’s name when you contact the referral.
Your client may not know the referral all that well, or he may feel uncomfortable making the call. If this is the case, let him know you understand his hesitation, but ask if you can bother him for one more favor. Ask for his permission to use his name when you contact the people he referred you to. He’ll probably be relieved to be let off the hook and be more than happy to give you permission to use his name.