Nothing gets done in this world without selling. Follow this method step-by-step and you will get a yes, but if you miss a step, you’ll get a no.
1. Greet and introduce
The first step in sales is to introduce yourself properly. Let people know who you are and what you do. Then, always ask a question. Sales are about what clients or customers need, not what you can sell them. The key throughout this process is to ask questions. To sell is not to tell. If you start by telling a client about your product, you’re trying to make him or her do something that you want. This does not plug into the clients’ motivation to gratify their own needs and wants.
2. Create rapport
The next step is to ask questions to establish common ground. People tend to forget the elementary stuff. The point of this exercise is not to hurry a sale, but rather to establish a platform on which to build a relationship. People tend to be sceptical until you find commonalities. Ask them about their interests, try to find people you know in common, places you have both been to, what they do, their goals and needs. If you can establish similarities, they will open to you. That’s when people see that you care.
Remember this: if you go in high and arrogant, your client will bring you down. If you go in low and humble, they’ll lift you up.
3. Establish needs
This is the stage where the sales person generally wants to talk about the product, but they haven’t even established a need yet. This is the most important component of the sales process. It’s all about data collecting. The more needs you can establish, the easier the selling process will be. If what you are trying to sell to them does not speak to one of their needs, why would they buy?
One of my mentors, Walter Haley of K-Mart, referred to a ‘dominant buying motive’, but he calls it the client’s highest value. He says that you need to establish as many needs as possible. Don’t stop until you have a minimum of five to seven needs, motives or voids that they want to fill. Until they are asking you to help them, you haven’t established enough needs. The aim is to get to the point at which the customer or client wants to know more about what you can offer them.
4. Confirm needs
Until this stage all you have done is ask questions — you still haven’t made a single statement, making it feel like the client is in control of the conversation and making all the decisions. However, it is you, the sales person, who is actually directing the conversation by probing.
Now summarise your client’s needs as it’s vital to show that you have properly understood them. When you have their confirmation, then you can make an offer.
5. Offer a solution
First, a warning: If what you are offering doesn’t match the client’s need, you’d be a fool to offer it. You’d be better off not trying to make that sale and finding someone who does match the offer. At this point you have to consider the long-term, rather than your immediate gratification in making a sale. The short-terms costs, the long-term pays. If you go for the sale and the product you are offering doesn’t solve the client’s needs, you will undermine the potential referrals that the client might still give you. Don’t make them resent you.
Either find a way to give them a product that matches or you can simply loop back to step three and establish a new or different set of needs. If your product or service does match their needs, admit you want to do business. Let them see that you’re interested. The solution, as always, must be a win-win. Help them to get what they want, and you’ll get what you want.
6. Handle objections
This stage is inversely proportional to how well you established their needs. Objections are symptoms that you have not established enough needs and are not offering the service that matches their needs. Listening is central and your preparation and product knowledge will be key to your success. If objections come up, you may need to skip back to step three and four, establishing and confirming needs, as well as identifying new needs. This is also an opportunity to try step five again. Once all objections are taken care of, it’s time to close the deal.
Be clear and direct about your intention to close — don’t make it ambiguous. Ask: When would you like to fulfil your needs or objectives? Remember, this is a question. You’re not imposing terms on the client, but allowing the client to direct you — the decision is in the client’s hands and he or she is made to feel in control of the decision.
Once you have the paperwork done, you have served your client. Then ask if they would mind you asking one or two more questions. Do they know other people with the same needs? At this stage, remember that you still have to keep in mind what is in it for the client. If it’s of no benefit, why would they do it? Generally, when clients feel good about a product or service, they’ll give you references.
9. Continued service and follow-up
Keep your follow-ups informative and friendly, but don’t become friends — always keep it professional. And if the referrals didn’t come the first time, get them now.