Where’s the sale? Not in the system!
What does it take to make the sale?
No, I’m not talking about a point, probe, present, overcome objections, close-old world sales tactics. I’m talking about the big picture-what it takes you, as a professional salesperson, to (first) understand the sales process and (second) convert the process into sales action.
I’m talking about STRATEGY.
Having a sales strategy is the precursor to making a sale. If you have no strategy, you walk into a sales call and robotically go through a bunch of rhetorical questions and statements that will ultimately lead to “How much is it?”
Having a strategy means you understand the big picture. You know what it takes to get the customer to “want to buy.” Having a strategy means you understand the selling process from the buyer’s perspective, because you looked into what will take place during the sales cycle BEFORE you start it.
OK, OK, let’s get to the answers. I apologize for taking so long, but the reason I spent time waxing on strategy is that most salespeople have no strategy when they go into a sale.
What follows are the 8.5 strategy questions that will lead to a buying decision instead of a forced sale-or worse-a price sale.
1. What answers do I need? The first thing you need to know in any selling situation is what it will take to make this sale from the perspective of the BUYER. You already know your “stuff,” but the bigger question is: What answers do you need about their “stuff”? Some of the things you need to know about them include their productivity, their ROI, their previous history of use, their present financial situation, and their structure.
2. Do you know what actions it will take (you must take) to complete the sale? Will you have to give a sales presentation? Will you have to give a bid? Are letters involved? Are demonstrations involved? Is this sale like others you’ve faced before? What do you have to do?
3. Do you know who the real decision maker is? Better stated: Do you know who pulls the trigger? Is this person the same person you are talking to? If not, your strategy needs to be revised.
4. Do you know what’s involved in the decision-making process? Better stated: Do you know how the decision will be made? Are there committees? Are there influencers? Is there an elimination process? How are you involved at each stage?
5. What are the obstacles that you are likely to face when you are making a sale? What obstacles do you normally face? Is it your competition? Is it those never returned phone calls? And what special obstacles might you face when dealing with this particular customer? Is it personality or a previous supplier? Or is it the budget?
6. Do you have a plan to overcome each obstacle? I’m sure you know that the better prepared you are for the obstacle, the less of a barrier it is when it actually occurs. Most salespeople act shocked when someone throws an objection their way, when in fact, they already knew it was coming-or they should have been prepared for it when it started.
And when price is an obstacle, which it is in 40 to 60 percent of all sales, the average salesperson is completely unprepared to overcome it. What makes it worse, is that the average salesperson is willing to walk away without the sale. Is that a strategy? It is if you’re looking for other employment.
7. If you are in a bidding or proposal situation, can you change the structure of the bidding process so you can win on something other than price? Regardless of your strategy, lowest price always means lowest profit. Every dollar you shave off your top price comes directly off your bottom-line profit. A strategy would be to meet with the customer or the prospect and say: “Mr. Jones, all of the prices you are going to receive will be within 10 percent of one another. Could we possibly add a clause that says `If all prices are within 10 percent, you retain the right to choose the company that you think will provide the best product, the best value, and the best long-term service'”? A prospect will be hard pressed not to choose that path.
8. Are you ready to make the presentation? When you walk into a sale armed with information about your company and your product, you are less than half prepared. How you do your research and how ready you are with ideas for the customer beyond your product will determine how that customer perceives you as a person. The higher they regard you, the higher they will regard your product, your service, and your company.
8.5 What is the strength of your self-belief? If your strategy is 100 percent, but your self-belief system is less than 100 percent, it is likely that you will not have the passion to be perceived as the best. How much do you believe in your company? How much do you believe in your product or service? How much do you believe in yourself? If those three answers are not over the top, the real strategy you need is how to get your own belief system to a point that will support the rest of your sales structure. In short-high belief leads to high sales-low belief leads to low sales.
Well, there you have it. Some painful, thought-provoking questions about how you get ready to earn your money. And there’s a common theme here. It’s unspoken, but it runs as a thread throughout each of the principles above. Did you notice it?
The strategy thread that runs through each of these questions is: How can I help my customer or my prospect the most, so I can earn my business? How can I prove myself to be a caring person, so my customer will want to develop a relationship with me rather than just purchase something from me?
Strategy is not about making a sale for a day, it’s about making sales forever.
Free GitBit: My philosophy of sales helps me determine my strategy. Want it? Go to www.gitomer.com — register if you’re a first time user — and enter the word PHILOSOPHY in the GitBit box.
Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible, is now offering licensed training programs to corporations, as well as distributorships to individuals, based on his best-selling books and the TrainOne online learning series. This process is starting with his newest book The Patterson Principles of Selling. Jeffrey can be reached by phone: 704/333-1112 or e-mail: email@example.com
c 2004 All Rights Reserved – Don’t even think about reproducing this document without written permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer 704/333-1112