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The Boy Scouts Were Right

3 Dec, 2014 By: Troy Harrison, Salesforce Solutions

“Be Prepared (and Do Your Best)” - that’s the Boy Scouts’ motto, and I’ve spoken about it before.  So many sales are lost not because the customer doesn’t want to buy, but because the salesperson isn’t prepared to sell.  Every salesperson THINKS they’re prepared to sell – but few actually walk through the steps and define what it takes to make a sale happen. End result is, your clients won’t see or hear you at your best, lose interest in what you have to offer, which thwarts the sale.

What is your sales process?  By “sales process,” I mean, “what are the steps involved in making a sale?  First, walk it through, start to finish, with the objective of understanding the “catch points,” and seeing what you can do to eliminate them. 

You also need to understand the customer’s interest curve.  Think of the customer’s interest as a bell curve.  On the left (the beginning) of the curve, your customer’s interest is typically low.  Then, as you move forward to discover their needs, showing how your product or service can address them to gain a positive result, your customer’s interest increases until it hits the peak of the bell curve.  That moment in time when the customer’s interest is highest, as we know, is the best moment to complete a sale. But how do we know the high point for sure?  Actually, it’s easy – the customer usually asks a question.

“So, how much does that cost?”

When your customer asks for a price, they are usually at the peak of their interest curve.  Every word you use, every day that goes by, before you ask that question only moves the customer back DOWN the bell curve.  This is one of the places that good sales go to die.  It’s not the only one, though.  There are other places and other ways that we hurt our sales potential through not being prepared to make a sale happen.

5 moments where salespeople get in their own way:

Not having good questions:  Sales is, as we’ve said many times, an activity of questioning and having intellectual curiosity.  You need to want to know about your customer’s needs, defined result, and defined ‘win’ from the sales call.  It’s not enough to have a list of questions in front of you – you have to also be prepared to create good questions on the fly.

Being your own worst objector:  Sales people are guilty of this one all the time.  You’ve probably done it, too – gone into sales call thinking, “No way that they’ll buy today,” or something like it.  This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If you don’t even think your customer will buy, they won’t.  This manifests itself in a number of different ways, including being your own worst price objector; thinking negatively about your ability to carry out the sale, etc.  This results in the sales person artificially slow-playing the sale while your competitor walks right past you.

Not taking sales tools into the call:  There’s really no excuse for this one.  I often see sales people who are scared to death to take sales tools into a sales call – including necessary sell sheets, brochures, even contracts and order forms.  The explanation I hear most commonly is, “I didn’t want to intimidate the customer.”  Really?  Your customer knows why you’re there – even if YOU don’t.  Don’t be that guy or gal.  When you go into a sales call, be prepared to make that sale happen.

Being unprepared to price:  Look, I know that not every one of you can be fully prepared to price every piece of business.  Some needs are complicated.  Some are complex projects.  Some require quotes from manufacturers.  And, if your situation is truly one of those situations, you are excused from this comment. That said, too many of you are not excused – you have the tools, price sheets, etc., available to you to quote price; and yet when the customer asks “how much” you immediately retreat to the bat cave to develop the magic proposal.  Why? If you have the tools quote the price – because if you don’t quote price, you cannot close then!  Which leads us to…

Being unwilling to seek commitment:  Notice that I didn’t say “being unwilling to close the sale.”  Not every appointment can end with a closed sale – but EVERY appointment should end with a commitment for a next step.  If you can close (i.e. you have identified needs, presented, proposed), then by all means – ask the closing question.  If you do really have to continue the sales process to another appointment, then set the next appointment right then and there.  If you don’t, you have no one to blame but yourself for the customer losing interest.

Sure, not all sales will be closed in one call. However, by being prepared, you can shorten the sales cycle without annoying your customers.

Troy Harrison is the author of “Sell Like You Mean It!” and is a Speaker, Consultant, and Sales Navigator. He helps companies build more profitable and productive sales forces with his cutting-edge sales training and methodologies.  For information or to sign up for his weekly E-zine, call 913-645-3603, e-mail Troy@TroyHarrison.com or visit http://www.TroyHarrison.com

About the Author: Troy Harrison

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