I don’t know how many people read these sales articles; occasionally someone comments but not very often. I am a practicing salesperson. I apply the principles and skills I write about each day in my quest for increased sales. I’ve learned many things pertaining to selling during my career. First of all, selling is hard work and you must work hard at it every day to be successful. Secondly, there is a lot to learn if you want to be good at your trade and you’ll never quit learning if you want to be great at selling. Third, to be successful at sales, you’ve got to embrace the attitude of serving others and finding solutions to their problems. Fourth, there will always be competition. You must find a way to set yourself and your solution apart from the rest. The fifth thing that I have learned about selling, and maybe this is the most important: making a sale is not an event but rather the result of a finely tuned and crafted process.
Closing a sale generally does not happen because you did a certain thing. Closing the sale typically happens because you did several things well, in the right order and at the right time. I have read ninety-nine ways to close a sale and don’t apply any of those ways by themselves to closing a sale. Some of the listed ways have their roots in a particular principle or skill, but by themselves, are generally not that successful. However, if you apply the principles associated with sales success, the closing of the sale becomes the logical conclusion of all that has preceded it. In these challenging economic times, where people seem to be holding tight to what resources they have, you must demonstrate exceptional skills and work harder than ever before to excel at selling. Every sales situation will be slightly different and you must establish a game plan for each opportunity. With this introduction, let me give you an example of applying principles to a process that will culminate in a sale.
Here are a couple of principles to begin with. Your very next best sale will come from a happy, satisfied customer and referrals are the next best source of sales after that. Spend time with current customers to find new opportunities. Every day spend time courting these customers that you have served well with the expectation of finding new opportunities to sell your products or services. Once you have discovered a new opportunity keep in mind the next principle: people don’t want to be sold, they want to buy. So don’t just jump right in and start selling to the opportunity you have discovered. Next principle: ask effective questions to reveal the depth and breadth of their need. Get it all out on the table so you totally understand the need and so they know that you understand.
The next principle to apply in your sales process is to present your product or service as a solution to your prospect’s need. To effectively accomplish this step of the sales process you need to implement the principle of dialogue. Invite the prospect to discuss with you the merits of your solution through dialogue. Invite them to respond to each point that you make. Allow the dialogue to flow based on their responses to your benefits. Present features as needed, but remember the next principle; benefits sell. Through practice, you will realize that all objections have been uncovered through the process of dialogue. You have now worked through another principle; people don’t buy if they have unresolved concerns. You may not be able to resolve every concern at this point, but you now know what they are and can work to resolve them immediately or over time.
The sale is not closed yet, but you are getting close. Some prospects may ask you for the sale at this point while others will need to be gently nudged. In the process of dealing with their objections, ask for the sale if you can satisfactorily resolve their remaining concerns. This principle makes the “closing of the sale” the logical conclusion of all the steps and principles that have led you to this point. This is a simple example but it reveals the process associated with selling. Selling is an emotional process of one step or principle followed by another and yet another, all leading to the logical final step of deciding to buy your product. Now, I don’t want to suggest that a salesperson will make every sale. They won’t. However, you will make more sales by applying the correct principles in your sales process than by just doing a lot of “stuff.”
There are still other principles that can be applied as needed. They might include effective follow-up that incorporates the correct timing and presenting physical gifts of knowledge, emotion, endorsements and specific benefits. Other principles might include presenting to all decision makers, not just one; setting the agenda as part of each contact; making the buying decision easy and simple through providing as much of the physical effort as possible; providing demos or site visits where appropriate; asking for referrals based on the excellent buying experience you have provided them; and the list goes on. Put together your own process for selling, through applying the proper principles and your sales will definitely increase.
These are challenging times for salespeople. Waiting for customers and prospects to place an order with you will not work in this market. You must be proactive and practice excellent skills based on time tested and proven principles of communications and relationships in order to achieve success. There are enough sales out there to keep the skilled salespeople happy and wealthy.