They say “good salespeople are born, not made.” But that’s false. In fact, selling is mostly a science, not an art.
Most salespeople know they need to develop a relationship with their clients. But many of them run into trouble when they try to solve clients’ problems by educating them with a product pitch—and making that pitch to the wrong employees. Customers are not interested in the technical details. What they need to understand is how your solution will fix their problems and remove their pains. The sales rep needs to speak to the right decision-maker and focus more on asking the right questions, listening carefully to what the client is saying (or implying), developing the right solution using your products or services and presenting those solutions as they directly relate to the client’s problems.
Regrettably, many companies don’t have a process, leaving the untrained reps omitting many key steps or performing them in the wrong order. They ask the prospect qualification questions when they should be closing, or they try to close when they should be qualifying. Or they perform a myriad of other actions at the wrong stage of the sales cycle.
How do sales reps reach the decision-makers to set up a meeting? How do they develop the best solutions-based proposal? How do they demonstrate the product in a fashion that reveals the best solutions to the prospect’s problems? The way to build a relationship with a client is by learning the “how” of selling. That comes through sales training. The best training follows a process. Each step of the process moves the relationship one step closer to a win-win solution and encapsulates the selling skills necessary within each step.
With proper sales training and a solid sales process, nearly anyone can become a successful sales professional. So what does a good process look like and what are the skills needed for each step?
In my business, I instruct people on the PEAK Sales Process?
- Prospect is where the initial contact is made. It involves cold calling to find a prospective client. The sales rep needs to learn how to make cold calls, the proper attitude to have, what types of first impressions he or she can make and the best approach to take in that first phone call or meeting.
- Engage is what you do once you’ve found a candidate. You engage the prospect in the process of the sale. The sales rep needs to learn how to qualify the “suspect” with the “right” questions and by listening carefully to the responses. The goal here is to understand the client’s problems and requirements to match the right solution to the company’s needs. Through good questioning and listening, the sales rep also will ensure that the suspect is fully qualified. To be qualified, the client must have a budget, the authority to make the decision (or at least the ability to introduce the sales rep to the decision-makers), have requirements matching your company’s solutions and be able to make a decision and purchase within a reasonable timeframe.
- Acquire is what you do with a qualified “suspect.” The suspect now becomes a prospect. In the acquisition stage, the sales rep presents and proposes a solution, negotiates with the client, handles objections and closes the sale. With a firm foundation established in the Prospect and Engage steps, acquisition is easier, because the client’s needs are fully understood and the sales rep’s trust and credibility have been established. The close is a natural progression of the process, as opposed to the “dreaded event” sales reps typically anticipate with fear and loathing.
- Keep is the final stage and the one in which the relationship is most important. The prospect becomes a full-fledged customer. An ongoing relationship is critical to your future business and viability. Unfortunately, many companies lack a customer retention strategy, and they lose the long-term relationship, along with potential future business.
A clearly defined sales process with specific selling skills for each step will ensure that your sales reps will replicate their successes.