Whether you sell face-to-face, by telephone, or in combination, there are eight basic steps in the process. By Helen Berman
2. Statement of benefits
3. Qualification and fact-finding
4. Agreement on needs
Before the sales call, you will want to do your homework: review the account history, their market niche, sales and marketing goals, your current sales position and best initial strategy.
If you choose not to use each of the eight steps in a single sales call: you might break the stages of the sale into more than one call. For a new prospect, the opening and statement of opening benefits may be a part of your initial phone conversation to set up an appointment. Be sure when you need several sales calls, review covered material each time you call. Your prospect may not remember every salient point.
You should deviate from the basic rules when it serves you. If your prospect is ready to buy at the beginning of the call – CLOSE THE SALE. Many salespeople miss the buying signals or feel obligated to “give them a pitch.” Missing your prospect’s pitch is an easy way to strike out.
While stating your name and purpose may sound simple enough, the first few seconds of the call are critical. First impressions do count. Present yourself as confident, professional and personable. You may not get a second chance. Most prospects decide in the first 15-30 seconds whether to give you any attention, move into resistance or give you the brush off.
2. Opening Statement of Benefits:
To gain your prospect’s immediate attention, you must quickly answer his unspoken question, “What’s in it for me?” Give your prospect an attention grabbing advantage you can offer his company. Write out several versions that work for you in different circumstances. Then practice your delivery.
Sell the prospect on actively engaging in the sales call or to consent to a personal interview. Your prospect wants to know at once the purpose of your call. If you beat around the bush, you lose credibility. Many salespeople err by mistaking the opening benefit statement for the presentation. Many salespeople begin by bombarding a prospect with a series of product features. They believe that if they speak fast enough, not daring even to take a breath, they might be able to make the sale immediately.
3. Qualification and Fact-finding:
By asking questions, you can quickly determine if the prospect is a qualified buyer. Rapport is most easily built during this stage of the sale. Make hefty deposits into the emotional bank which you may need to draw upon when answering objections. By asking strategic questions and uncovering his needs, you can prepare him emotionally and intellectually for the presentation.
The more your prospect begins to formulate and voice his own ideas that will support your presentation later, the more powerful a mark your presentation will make.
4. Agreement on Needs:
Once you and your prospect have discussed his needs, summarize the conversation by listing them. Get any further clarification and agreement about their priority. I find lists of three to be easiest to work with. Be sure the list you create together emphasizes needs your product can meet. You have created the cornerstone of the presentation.
Explain how your product can help meet specific needs. You have created a home base, a safe space. If you lose control of the sale, return to agreement on needs. It provides a transition, signaling your client that you are proceeding to the next stage of the sale.
Here’s where effective salespeople play their “trump card”. Based on understanding his needs, you save your most powerful point – the clincher – for now. This is your opportunity to tie your product’s features and corresponding benefits to your prospect’s specific needs. Make the cogs of the machine mesh. Reinforce whenever possible the relationship between your product and meeting the prospect’s goals.
As you continue the presentation, refrain from a dog and pony monologue whenever possible. Keep your prospect involved or risk losing him.
Get the prospect’s agreement that the product’s features and benefits do meet his needs. He will often have concerns which you need to address. Continue the consultative relationship. Avoid the trap of becoming an adversary.
While there are many techniques of sales closing, the close should be a natural outcome of the first six steps. Unfortunately, some salespeople are afraid to ask for the order. As a wise man once said, “You don’t ask, you don’t get.” Get your prospect to agree to specifics. If that isn’t possible, get a commitment on something, even just another appointment.
Establish the next action, clarify any procedures, and let the prospect know what to expect. Thank your client for his business and reassure him that he made a sound business investment. Buyer’s remorse has resulted in many a cancelled contract. Do what you can to reinforce the sale and your on going relationship.