In this article I cover 5 tips to help you improve your sales process.
Every business needs sales. That goes without saying. Yet I often find that salespeople simply jump into a sales interaction without much thought as to why they are contacting this person, what they want to accomplish or how to move the sales process forward. And they wonder why so few interactions are positive or move the sales process to the next logical step.
Sales do not happen in one call or one meeting. Sometimes we get lucky and the customer is ready to buy, but more often we have to massage the process, be ready to find ways to add value in each interaction and build a relationship, not simply focus on the sale.
This doesn’t just happen. You have to plan your interactions and know where you want to go in each interaction, without focusing primarily on the sale. The sale happens because it is the logical conclusion to the end of a successful process you and the prospect have been through together.
Plan Your Interactions
Successful salespeople manage andcontinually work to improve the sales process. They focus on getting information, identifying needs and moving the process along. What do they do? They plan each and every interaction.
Tip 1: Who are you contacting? Create a plan of who you are going to contact. This means writing down those names and contact information or, if using a database, conducting a search and having this information at your finger tips. It’s important to know who you are contacting so you can build momentum rather than stopping after each call or email to determine who you are going to contact next. It also helps you determine how much time you need. Contacting five people via email is vastly different from contacting five people via phone.
Tip 2: Why are you contacting them? Too often we pick up the phone or send an email without much thought as to why we are contacting the prospect. We end up without a response to our email or our phone call is not returned, or we connect with them but there is no forward movement. Why are you contacting them? Is it because they asked you to contact them in the future, because they were referred to you, or something else? Don’t reach out before determining why you are doing so.
Tip 3: What is the objective of the interaction? This is different than why you are contacting them. The objective needs to be determined first as it guides what you will say. For example, is the objective to secure a face-to-face meeting or to determine their interest in your product or service or to do a needs analysis or something else?
Tip 4: Check your attitude. Sales skills are important and attitude has a lot to do with the success in the sales interactions. Are you feeling apathetic? Are you thinking: ‘why bother? they won’t respond to my emails or voice mails anyway’? If so, this attitude is conveyed in your emails and voice mail messages. Check out your attitude before starting the process. It will impact your success, even if you are connecting via email.
Tip 5: Focus on listening and adding value, not closing the sale. Relationships take time to build. And the more costly your product or service is the longer the relationship takes to build. They need to get to know and trust you before investing in a purchase and that will happen with every interaction you have with a prospect. If your only goal is to close the sale, then your approach will be different than if you are focused on building a relationship. Even if you are selling a commodity (think office supplies), building relationships will help you get referrals and repeat business.
There is no one formula that will improve your sales process. Being in sales is hard work and requires you to be suited up and ready to go. You have to be ready to meet the challenge and that starts with planning who (who are you contacting), why (are you contacting them), how (email, phone call or meeting), and what (are you going to say, what’s the objective). And you have to be sure you are mentally in the right space. If any of these aren’t in place, stop and re-group before continuing. The results will speak for themselves.