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Are You Defining Success Correctly?

28 Apr, 2016 By: Troy Harrison, Salesforce Solutions

Recently, I was engaged in a debate with someone in one of my training classes.  The salesman that engaged me was a good guy; well intentioned, but like a lot of salespeople, he’d been trained to use some bad techniques.  He asked me about a particular technique for voice mail that relies on deception (getting the contact to believe you are a customer, rather than a salesperson) to get the contact to call you back.

 “It works,” he said.  “I get a lot of calls back.”  When I asked him how many of those call-backs resulted in sales, his answer got a lot more vague – but I can’t blame him.  It occurred to me that one of our problems in building sales methodology, is that we (salespeople and trainers) many times define “success” incorrectly.  We only look at the immediate step rather than the overall result.  So how should we define success?

The ultimate success in selling is when you sell a customer and they’re enthusiastic about buying from you, and repeatedly. They will evangelize for you by giving testimonials and referrals.  That’s the ultimate success in selling.  Too often, we settle for much less, and the reason is, it’s the way that we sell to our customers.  Let’s look at a sales process and see where we can go wrong – at EACH STEP – to prevent ourselves from doing that.

Initial contact:  Typically this is a prospecting call but it can be a call from the customer to you.  Our objective is to turn this initial contact into an opportunity to discover the customer’s needs and then present solutions. Definition of success:  The customer is interested enough to enter into a sales process with us. Failure point:  Either we don’t give the customer a reason to be interested, or worse, we say something that creates a NEGATIVE impression so that the customer becomes biased against us.  Deceptive tactics fall under this umbrella.

Discovery:  Our purpose here is to work in tandem with the customer, to discover their needs, define the successful result of a purchase, and create interest in a Presentation. Definition of success:  You discover their needs and the customer agrees that you have identified them, and is enthusiastic about seeing a presentation. Failure Point:  You skip or shortcut the needs, you don’t get the customer’s agreement that these are the actual needs; you move to Presentation before the customer is ready.

Presentation:  Our purpose here is to show the customer how we can satisfy the needs and meet the customer’s criteria for a successful result. Definition of success:  The customer’s interest increases, the customer agrees that your solution would achieve their desired result, and they request a proposal.  Failure Point:  You don’t show the customer how you can achieve their needs, you don’t really confirm with them that you have achieved their needs, or worse – you do or say something that is perceived as deceptive. Rushing through a Presentation to get to the Proposal will create customer discomfort.

Proposal:  We show the price and terms of our solution. Definition of success:  The customer understands the price and terms clearly because we present in a simple fashion with no “fine print” involved. Failure Point:  You quote a proposal that glosses over important details, leaving the customer surprised later on by things like incidental and ancillary charges, etc.  You use many “sales words” that increase customer skepticism about your credibility.

Closing:  We want to get the business in a customer-friendly fashion. Definition of success:  Your customer agrees, enthusiastically, to buy.  Failure Point:  You ‘hard close’ the customer until they bleed from the ears. Maybe you even get the order but the experience is so unpleasant that they won’t repeat and won’t evangelize. When I first started in sales, selling cars, we had a sales manager that was nicknamed “The Hammer” because of his hard closing style. Many times he “hammered” a customer into buying a car – but rarely ever returned our calls again.

Post Sale:  We want a customer that happily buys from us again, would evangelize and refer us, and in general smiles when they think of us.  Definition of success:  Your customer recommends you, takes your calls, takes your meetings, and is open to buying more from youFailure PointPoor customer service, poor follow up, or any negative experience during the sales process.

In my experience, I’d rather lose the sale today and preserve a potential customer than burn them with a bad deal, never to return.  The choice is yours.


Troy Harrison is the author of “Sell Like You Mean It!”, “The Pocket Sales Manager,” and a Speaker, Consultant, and Sales Navigator. He helps companies build more profitable & productive sales forces. For information e-mail Troy@TroyHarrison.com or visit www.TroyHarrison.com .

About the Author: Troy Harrison

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