1 – Prospecting
2 – Initial Contact
3 – Sales Presentation
4 – Handling Objections
5 – Closing the Sale
6 – Follow-Up and Service after the Sale
As you develop a sales process that is right for you and your business, here are some other pointers to keep in mind:
- Continuously improve your sales skills, learn from others and stay open to new ideas.
- Be sincere about your desire to help the prospect. Making the sale should be your secondary objective. This attitude will come through in every encounter and will help you build long-term relationships.
- Contribute more than just your product. Provide industry news updates, creative ideas, and business advice as part of the service you offer.
- Be direct with your communication. Beating around the bush only frustrates people. Answer all questions. Never patronize.
- Enclose your business card with every letter and note.
- Thank people who refer prospects to you. If the referral results in business, send a small, business-related thank-you gift also.
- Never lie. Don’t badmouth the competition or say negative things about their clients. Don’t gossip.
- Don’t overbook yourself so much that you don’t have time to listen and be available to your customer for their questions and comments.
Finding qualified prospects for your products or services is a necessary first step in the sales process. You need to have someone to sell to before you make a sale. But, making certain that there is a good possibility that they will buy is what makes them “qualified prospects.”
Once you’ve identified prospects, you will want to learn all you can before you approach them. Contacting each prospect takes a lot of time and energy so look at each potential prospect carefully to:
- determine your sales approach and plan your sales calls
- determine which products and services best suit particular prospects
- uncover reasons why you should not pursue some prospects, saving you valuable time and resources
The Initial (sales) Contact
When the Prospect Initiates the Contact
Prospects will visit you during normal business hours if you have a store or business location. If you do not have a store, they might contact you by phone, mail, email, or through your website to request information, ask questions and/or to make a purchase. Prospects might also call at odd hours to find out when you’re open or where your store or office is located. Be sure your answering machine message, answering service or website answers these questions.
When You Initiate the Contact
One of the most common initial contacts is a “cold call” conducted by phone or in person, otherwise known as “sales lead generation”. A cold call refers to a contact made with prospects who have not indicated they desire the call. It’s obviously much more efficient – and most say more successful – to conduct cold calls on the telephone rather than to drive around town, but you might have a reason that warrants an in-person cold call on occasion.
Make an appointment, giving them choices of appointment times and meeting locations.
Here are some ideas to help turn cold calls into warm prospects:
- First, determine your objective and the purpose of your call. Your purpose may be to make an appointment, to inform, to question, to talk to a certain person, and to sell. Additionally, determine if you want to close the sale on the first call or simply pave the way for a later call or sales presentation.
- Try to do a little homework before the call. If you know someone who may have insight or information about the prospect, call them.
- Send a fax or mail some information prior to the cold call. Reference the information in the call, but don’t open with, “Did you get the information I sent?” This allows the prospect to simply say, “no,” just to get you off the phone. Instead, try something like, “I sent you some information by email yesterday; I’m following up to provide additional information . . .”
- When you’re ready to make the call, make sure you have all the materials you need at hand. For example, if the purpose of your call is to make an appointment, have your appointment book open and a working pen or pencil in front of you.
- State your purpose quickly – within 15 seconds.
- Get prospects interested by asking questions that make them think.
- Make statements that build rapport and confidence.
- Use humour – people love to laugh.
- Be sincere.
- Be friendly – people like to buy from people they like.
- Keep your eye on the prize – never lose sight of your objective, regardless of the outcome of the call.
The Sales Presentation
Many sales people feel the most exciting part of the sales process is presenting products or services to prospects. Finally, the vast amount of knowledge you have about your products, services and your company comes into play!
Here are some suggestions for putting your best foot forward in your sales presentation:
- Let prospects talk 90 percent of the time; they’ll tell you how to sell to them. You just need to listen, think and respond.
- Don’t be afraid to be excited about your product. Your enthusiasm carries a strong message about your personal investment in the product.
- During presentations, focus on the benefits of your products and services. Benefits are different from features, which are characteristics such as size, colour and functionality. Benefits answer the customer’s question: “Why would I want to own that product?” Benefits are what cause people to buy.
- Set objectives for sales calls. Write the objectives on index cards and keep the cards handy to make notes as you think of items to add.
- Be on time for sales appointments. If you are unavoidably delayed, call before the appointment to let the prospect know your estimated time of arrival.
- Be prepared for your call. Have your sales brochures, demonstration materials, and other supplementary information available.
- Be relaxed during sales calls. That often is easier said than done. It helps to give yourself plenty of time in transit so you don’t arrived frazzled from a rush through bad traffic. And, once you are there take a moment in the car to take a few deep breaths and review what you want to say.
- Use testimonials. Your best selling tool is a reference from a satisfied customer.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for their business.
- Invite prospects to interact with products. For example, encourage customers to try a watch on, operate a device or smell the bubble bath.
- Limit the choices during a sales presentation. Most experts advise sales people to show prospects only three options at a time. Too many options may prove overwhelming, resulting in them not choosing anything.
- Adapt your sales presentation to your prospect. For example, a travel agent would provide different types of information about a cruise package to a couple going on their first cruise than to a couple that has been on dozens of cruises.
- Rate yourself after sales calls. Determine what you did well and what you need to improve upon. Develop action steps for improvement.
- Always follow through on promises.
- Determine what your prospect seemed most interested in and work that into your follow-up plan.
- Follow up, follow up, follow up. It often takes five to 10 exposures to get a sale.
During the sales process, you will most likely meet objections. Objections are prospects’ comments about the reasons why they don’t plan to buy your product or service. It may be something like “I already buy those products from ABC Company and am happy with their product.”
Don’t be put off by an objection; it is a normal part of the sales process. In fact, objections sometimes are a signal that the sale is progressing and you’re getting closer to a positive response. When a prospect voices an objection, they may simply be asking for more information about your product – and their objection tells you in what area they need more information. For instance, if they say they are happy with a product from another competitor that is your opening to explain how your product differs from your competitor’s product.
Anticipate objections. Rehearse answers to standard objections. Learn to ask questions of prospects to get to their real questions.
Here are a few proven techniques for overcoming objections. Treat every objection with respect and a thoughtful response.
- Acknowledge your customers’ position and then offer them new information.
- Question prospects when they make statements about why they won’t buy or what they don’t like about your product. Try to learn why they feel as they do; this will help you get to the root cause of their concerns.
- Restate the objection so the customer can hear it. This tends to reduce the magnitude of an objection and allows prospects to modify your statement to more accurately express their true objection.
- Tactfully respond directly to the customer’s statement. If you must contradict what they are saying because you honestly believe they are wrong, provide factual information that can help them see where they may have a misunderstanding.
Closing the Sale
Although you should never be shy about asking for business, prospects will probably give you some signals when they are ready to become customers. Here are some signals that suggest they are ready to buy:
- Asking about availability
- Asking specific questions about rates, prices or affordability
- Asking about features, options, quality, guarantees or warranties
- Asking positive questions about your business
- Asking for something to be repeated
- Making statements about problems with previous vendors; they may be seeking reassurance from you that you won’t pose the same problems
- Asking about follow-up service or other products you carry
- Requesting a sample or asking you to repeat a demonstration for them or for others in their company or family
- Asking about other satisfied customers. You should have a list of satisfied customers ready to give to prospects who ask. (Make sure you’ve already contacted these customers about serving as references)
These are some techniques that often help prospects make the decision to buy.
- Quit talking after you ask a closing question. Give prospects the opportunity to say yes.
- Offer an added service, such as delivery.
- Offer a choice, such as “would you prefer the blue one or green one?”
- Offer an incentive such as a 10 percent discount for purchases made now.
- Lead the customer through a series of minor decisions about such factors as their preferred colour or model that are easier to make and that lead to make the bigger decision to actually purchase.
- Don’t give up too soon. Learn to understand prospects’ buying styles; some people take longer than others to make a decision.
Follow-up and Service after the Sale
You have made the sale. Now what? Some sales people believe that follow-up after the sale is just as important as making the sale. That’s when your relationship with a customer can mature and develop into loyalty to your product.
Building long-term relationships with customers allows you to leverage or make additional use of your initial investment of time and money spent selling to that customer. In other words, you don’t have to spend time prospecting, qualifying and conducting other pre-sales activities for that particular customer again.
There is no better advertising than a satisfied customer. Good follow-up and service after the sale will:
- establish and maintain your good reputation,
- build goodwill between you customers and your business,
- and generate repeat and referral business.
For more information please call now on 0845 3058145 or visit www.salesaccelerant.co.uk/sales-lead-generation