Effectively leading a sale and managing your sales cycle means understanding your patterns and habits by asking questions like: What have I done in the past? Did I see results? How does my current approach apply to future sales I’m working on? And what can I do to improve my results?
Here are 5 quick tips to help you improve your sales performance and more effectively lead your next sale conversation by analyzing, explaining, planning, and clarifying your message.
#1 Respect Yourself
With some customers, a sales call becomes a “dominance game,” a struggle of control and superiority. The challenge for a seller is to avoid antagonizing the customer while maintaining his or her own position of value and self-respect. Whenever confronted by a customer like this, your task is to review all you know about the account, contact, product, and competition, and identify those things about which you have superior knowledge Then, focus on them if the “dominance game” starts emerging during the sale.
Action to Take: Think of accounts (and/or account contacts) who have intimidated you in the past (or even now). For each, ask yourself what causes these feelings, how you can establish credibility, and what you can say or do to show your expertise. Expertise and credibility tend to defect intimidation.
#2 Explain Your Rationale
“Earning the right to continue” is a critical element of the opening moments of any sales call. Many sellers think that just because they have a great story to tell, they will have a chance to tell it. This just isn’t true. You often have to quickly convince the customer that what you want to say will be worth listening to, before you even begin to launch into the content. Your explanation of the rationale (the logical reason) for the call will get you that willingness to listen.
Action to Take: Think of several accounts where competition is a threat. Then, for each, write out how you would explain your rationale for your sale so that the customer will be willing to listen further.
#3 Explain Your Presentation
When beginning the sale and sales call, you always want to find ways to “smooth the road.” You have to make the customer comfortable before you engage his intellect in reviewing what you are selling. You do this by thinking of ways to motivate the customer to agree with you and by positioning the presentation so that will resonate with the customer on a personal as well as a professional level.
Action to Take: Think of a high-stake account where competition is a major factor and where the customer tends to be indifferent. Think of ways to explain your presentation so that it appeals to the customer before you even being detailing the specifics of the sale.
#4 Explain Your Plan
Rapid implementation of a sales plan is a critical concern because it ensures the customer will see the value immediately. Also, it lessens the possibility of anything going wrong, or competition getting into the picture or changing conditions which may jeopardize the deployment of your products or services. So, even if you get agreement for the sale, you must also get agreement for the rapid implementation of the plan. Determine the fastest pathway from closure to implementation and then find reasons for “selling” this short pathway to the customer. The key here is “selling” the plan when you are explaining it.
Action to Take: Identify an account which tends to introduce implementation plans consisting of too many steps, plans which take far too long to implement. Then, think of a typical sale. List the steps the customer might suggest. Then, think of a plan that involves fewer and faster steps. Finally, think of a way to explain your plan so that the customer sees its value and will commit to it.
#5 Ask for Feedback
Remember that leading a sale is a conversation, which is why you should get into the habit of asking for feedback after you’ve made your point. This is important because it provides insight into the client’s thinking. When the client reacts to your message, it provides an opportunity for you to adjust your message based on their reaction. It also keeps the client involved and engaged in the conversation. You want to confirm that everyone is on the same page before you find yourselves in drastically different places.
Action to Take: Ask for feedback intermittently throughout your conversation. Do this by stopping after each critical piece of information to either ask a thought-provoking or open-ended question to encourage the client to provide their input. You can make sure everyone in the meeting is on the same page when you stop occasionally to check for understanding and any need of clarification. Think in terms of bits and chunks of information to discuss and validate before moving on to the next point.
These are just 5 quick tips to help you take control of your sales cycle and will allow you to create a dialogue where you understand the client’s needs, priorities, and perspective in order to provide a valuable solution.