What’s the objective of your selling system? It’s a trick question. If you said, to convince someone to buy your product or service, you may be using an old style traditional selling model.
There are many objectives to a selling system, but first and foremost, the objective is to have the prospect discover that they need what you have. Therefore the objective of a selling system isn’t to sell something but to help the prospect make a buying decision. The old selling model of driving your features and benefits and convincing the prospect they need them is hard on both the salesperson and more importantly the prospect. If your selling system feels like you’re pushing water up hill, give yourself and the prospect a break.
What’s the initial goal of your sales system from the first point of encounter (a cold call)? Many would say, to establish some bonding and rapport. Good answer, but how do you do that differently than the next four competitors who go to see that prospect? Ultimately the prospect differentiates you from your competition in one of two ways. The good way. That is what you do to present yourself as a professional, and there’s the bad way. Price. If the latter is the only reason they’re buying, your selling system is in deep trouble.
In getting started can you outline your selling system to the prospect and make sure they’re OK with where it’s going. Full disclosure selling is important and sets a businesslike tone to the proceedings. It is the beginning of the difference between you (the person who is there to help them) and the other guy (who is there to sell them something.) The initial objective is to get the prospect talking openly about their issues. Will they do that if they perceive you as more interested in their money than the solution?
How can you do things differently from the other guys? As a salesperson you must be a professional communicator. Your ability to assess, understand and relate to the prospect in a way that makes the prospect comfortable will set a completely different tone from the person who tries to establish a relationship solely based on commonality. For instance, the fact that you both like to fish, or have kids the same age, or are from the same town. These things have a place, but the pros go deeper. Does your selling system take you there?
If I asked you what’s next in your system, you’d probably say, needs analysis. Finding what the prospect needs is critical. More important is why they need it, can they live without it, what happens if they don’t fix the problem, and several other questions that take you past the simple ‘what’ question. Why are these questions important? Without a clear and definite view of the big picture, you’re only seeing the surface issues. Your questioning techniques must allow you to qualify or disqualify the prospect sooner than later. Otherwise, you’re spending valuable and potentially productive time in a situation that is a waste of time.
And what about the money? Does your selling system have you firing off proposals and quotes without a commitment to a budget? Asking a series of nurturing questions in the budget step will remove the anxiety that usually accompanies this step. Discovering if the prospect has the money is only one part of the budget step. Are they willing and able to spend the money? I’ve certainly heard of situations where it all looked great and then it fell apart after the presentation when the money allocated was pulled back or diverted to another project. Can your selling system address this disappointing possibility?
Are you talking to the final decision maker? This is, in my opinion the toughest part of the sales process. Why? It’s because you’re dealing with feelings and ego. Everybody’s a decision maker until a decision has to be made. Ever find yourself in the situation where all is well until someone says, “this now has to go to the president, the board, the committee, my wife?” Are you confident in your selling system to ask the tough questions to uncover this issue and in a way that won’t offend the contact person? If you don’t deal with it before the presentation or quote, this will become an objection after the presentation. After you’ve done all the work. Save yourself the frustration and seek out the person who can say ‘yes.’
These are but a few elements of a professional selling system. Mastering a system that keeps you on track, in control, and productive is critical to success in sales. The prospect has a system and it’s powerful. In the buyer-seller dance, are you in control or are you following their system? You have to decide, do you want to be part of their system or part of your system?
There are two kinds of salespeople; the growing and the walking dead. There are professional salespeople, professional visitors and order-takers.
A selling system that defines where things are going can make the prospect comfortable with the process. It can determine early whether you close the sale or close the file and that is essential for success in sales.
Gone are the days when charm and the gift to gab are the defining characteristics of a successful salesperson. Today you can get by on charm for fifteen minutes, after that you better know something. That something is the knowledge and use of a proven selling system. There are several to choose from. Find the one that fits your world.