Over the years, several sales experts have had several takes on whether sales is a science or an art. The disparity has always been; if sales is a verifiable process that can be empirically underscored or an act of social chance that happens automatically. However, we can today agree that sales leans towards being a science than an art considering how sales now relies on data and its understanding to make revenue decisions.
Sales don’t happen by chance, I like to say it takes a mechanical approach that requires some defined and structured processes that bring about the deal closure. It may not entirely be plug and play; however, some rules, steps and guiding strategies must be followed to get the targeted aims. Meanwhile, the rules as well as the approach must not be held religiously as different approaches are defined for distinctive target in the sales approach.
Without mincing words, it is clear that some sales professionals want an automatic approach to whatever they are doing. The quick result expected on deliverables is always a top desire of every salesperson. Meanwhile, most sales reps lose deals as a result of the automatic approach taken. They are unable to wait for the first approach to be exhausted before going for the second. Most of the time, they went for the last on the scale for the first time of engagement all because they want a quick result. This approach will later lead to non-getting of any result at the end of the day.
Let me give good news. I can say categorically that every hit counts in closing a deal. Touching base with a client by sending a good morning text can be a catalyst may be the catalyst of changing the narrative of the business. Every approach to maintaining a cordial relationship with a prospect is very crucial in deal closure. Let me share a narrative of my boss in 2018 when I was a sales consultant with Suis Property. There was a day I almost close a deal of one hundred and twenty million deal of a sale of Semi-detached apartment in Earls Court Estate in Lekki. I felt devastated about the lengthy duration of that transaction. A Monday morning I was given a brief of ongoing transaction and made a big breath when gotten to the said transaction. ‘What is the problem’, my boss anxiously questioned.
This is the first time I heard the phrase, every hits counts. He picked a scenario of a miner breaking a heavy rock. He asked how many knack of sledge hammer we think will break the rock. We respectably answered many. However it will be one that will finally break the rock. The all unnoticed hits are practically weakening the rock for the final one to break it. This means all the frustrating effort we are putting to sales are weaken the deal for the final approach to close it.
The Sales Process consists of six steps, helping you to keep focused on how you find and then progress prospects and existing customers through the sales funnel. It’s important to recognize at which step of the Sales Process different clients and prospects are. Knowing how long it typically takes to progress a client from unknown prospect to a buyer, with whom you need to do some post-purchase follow-up, is vital to your sales activity. Depending on the complexity of your sector, these steps may overlap to varying degrees, or indeed several may take place at the same time.
Prospecting is the number one stage of sales. Here, we do the groundwork to identify potential customer, based on our targeting, product offer, positioning, competitive strength, as well as the financial capability of the client etc.
Information Gathering is the second stage of sales after prospecting. Here, we carry out research in order to learn as much as we can about this business with which we haven’t yet worked. This might include finding out what we can about their current supplier or alternative products/services they are using today, who the decision makers and influencers are, etc. Make first contact and ask about their needs, etc. Request a meeting either physical or virtual.
Presentation is another stage of sales after information gathering. This entails Demonstration, presentation of demo, sample or taste your product or service (depending on your business). Get in front of the prospect and show them what you’ve got. Keep asking critical questions relating to the business of your client.
Research has proven that one of the most common mistakes a salesperson makes through steps 2 and 3 is to talk too much. After all, we often feel more comfortable talking than listening. But listening is the key! By asking questions, we learn things. Furthermore, don’t speak while presenting your product. If your buyer is touching, tasting, or using your product, they won’t hear you!
Negotiating is another critical stage in sale. Remember not to agree to anything, until you’re agreeing to everything. Avoid agreeing to (for example) a price, without understanding fully the terms of sale. Discuss all aspects, e.g. price, who is meeting the delivery costs, minimum order quantities, credit terms, training costs where applicable, etc., before making an agreement. In negotiating, price is not the only factor. The buyer does not have all the power.
Step five of the sales process is closing. After all, that’s the point, no? Watch out for buying signals. They will come and you need to be alert to take advantage. Consider different ways of closing the sale, including a once-off special offer, time limited offers, quantity-related offers, sensible comparisons with what others have done, the good-old “would you like the red one or the blue?” argument, demonstration of concrete benefits accruing, etc. And be alert to The Value of No.
The last step is following up, ongoing relationship building and delivery of quality customer care. With this, the client may buy beyond what he/she initially wanted. We all know the adage that people buy from people they like. Providing quality customer care is an essential pillar of this. When the sale is made, pick up the phone and ask how your customer is getting on. They’ll appreciate it.
Going by this and demonstration of emotional intelligence with the highlighted point. The final hit will surely break the rock.