"...being good with sales is part art and part science and no canned process is going to work if you don't have your fingerprint on it."
Do a quick search in Google for "Sales Process" and literally hundreds of results will appear. There is everything from the more classic 7 Step Process to the lesser known Selling Roadmap. My personal favorite is the 5 C's Steps to a Sale where you are supposed to move effortlessly through from Capture Attention to Create Interest then to a Compelling Presentation and then Conclude It and finally Close It.
Huh? In my 25+ years as a sales professional (18 of which I have been the executive at the helm of my own business), I have yet to see a sales methodology that is truly step-by-step. This is because being good with sales is part art and part science and no canned process is going to work if you don't have your fingerprint on it.
Some of you sales veterans may be familiar with the PEAK Sales Process. PEAK is an acronym standing for Prospect, Engage, Acquire, Keep. In my opinion, a sales process need not be any more complicated than that. The PEAK process takes into account several key factors when it comes to selling:
- Prospecting Is Ripe for Improvement - How much of your time do you spend prospecting? PEAK would suggest that prospecting, pipeline development, and sales funnel filling exercises should take the majority of your time.
- An Active Prospect Is a Ready Customer - When you make the prospect part of the sales process by engaging them in choices and decisions, they are much more likely to convert to a customer. So how do we engage them? Well, the first asset you must employ is active listening skills. Ask the prospect pointed, direct and open-ended questions then put on your listening ears. Don't be ready to jump in and respond before they even finish speaking but rather pay close attention to what the person is telling you and even closer attention to what they are not telling you.
- Acquire Customers Against All Odds - When I am delivering sales training, I always introduce students to the concept of "Crave The No" early in my class. It takes hearing 10 "no's" to get someone else to agree to buy and say "yes". A strong salesperson will learn to love hearing the word "no" because that means they are one step closer to hearing "yes". And, better to have a prospect tell you no than to lead you on for months. Hearing the word "no" means you have a clear direction with that prospect and can move on to someone who might truly benefit from your product or service.
- The New Versus Renew Phenomenon - The "K" in PEAK stands for Keep. I believe this is one of the most important concepts in sales yet is all too frequently forgotten. Data tells us that it takes 60% fewer resources (time, money, development, etc.) to maintain an existing customer than to bring on a new one. Client attrition rates are one of the most expensive and overall burdensome activities a company can experience. So why is it that as salespeople we have to be reminded on a regular basis to service our existing client base? We need to see if we can maintain and possibly extend our relationships with customers we already have rather than always following bread crumbs to new accounts.
A sales process typically refers to a set of steps your sales team takes with a prospect to move them from early stage to a closed customer. These steps are repeatable and predictable. While a good sales process helps your salespeople close deals by giving them a framework to follow, it is often not enough. Sales are about relationships. It is about knowing your product line ferociously enough that you can be strategic in how you position your solution—offering exactly what the prospect needs, not what you know how to sell. And being a strong sales professional is about being a problem solver. It is about analyzing the prospects problems, their pain, and being able to offer a service that will relieve that pressure point.
Having a sales process is good. It can be very valuable. But "cookie cutter" is definitely not how sales work. It is both strategic and tactical. A winner in sales wants the client to win with them. A fluid approach is best!
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