Sales is a process
On many occasions I have been asked to help a client understand where they have gone wrong in a sales call. It almost always comes down to a lack of any sales process or getting the process in the wrong order. This is easily remedied by planning all your calls with a process in mind.
Selling is essentially influencing somebody to agree with you. When we are selling, we present an argument (not as in a dispute) which you want your customer to agree with and then we ask them to take some action based upon it. Like in any argument, we need to set out our case in a logical order, as below:
The sales process follows the same fundamental structure,albeit with some more detail added to each step. If you neglect the process, you’ll find that you may never reach a conclusion to your sales calls and you will go around in circles with a prospect.
One of my coaching clients recently relayed to me a sales call that she felt had ended up going around in circles. She met her prospect and after a brief introduction she was presented with an early objection. She found this completely put her off her objective and she told me it felt like the customer had taken control of the call.
I was happy to agree with her assessment; the customer had taken control. By firing an early objection at her, the customer had forced her to leapfrog into the objection handling stage of the sales process which, as you will see in a moment, comes towards the end of the process. Her only option in this scenario would have been to try and wrestle back control. She needed to drag the conversation back to the beginning to establish some rapport, understand the customer’s requirements so that the sales pitch was compelling, possibly reducing the chance of anobjection. A clear call plan and suggested agenda in her introduction would have reduced the chances of this role reversal.
So, what makes a good process?
There are 5 main identifiable stages of a sales call. Some systems add a couple of extra steps, but essentially the 5 steps below cover almost any type of sales interaction.
1. An opening.
2. Finding out what the customer wants,needs, desires.
3. Pitching products and services.
4. Dealing with objections.
5. Closing the sale.
All high-quality sales training acknowledges and uses a variation of this process. They also acknowledge that the process is sequential and needs to be conducted in the correct order to create a logical route to a close. As far as I’m aware, they all usean acronym as a memory aid for their selling process.
BUT the chosen acronym is often tenuous to avoid infringing a copyright, or it spells something completely random to fit the steps. Infact, as part of my research I re-read ‘SPIN Selling’ by Neil Rackham.It is possibly the most awesome book written about questioning skills and I highly recommend it, but Rackham admits that the ‘N’ in ‘SPIN’ doesn’t really work or follow on from the other letters. He used it to fit the acronym and there was probably a better word to describe this aspect of this method.
One possible result of using an acronym with something that doesn’t quite fit, is that it is easily forgotten and subsequently not used by the sales teams following the process. I must admit I was struck on second reading how powerful SPIN selling is, but for some reason I hadn’t used it systematically. My assertion is that any process, no matter how clever it is,is a complete waste of time unless you use it! So, wouldn’t it be great if there was a sales process that was…
Memorable, Sequential and Effective that you could apply to every sales call?
Everybody knows the days of the week and that each day follows on sequentially from the previous one. Rather than using an acronym for the sales process, which you might forget and not use, wouldn’t it be better instead to use the days of the week to represent the different phases of the sales call? It is so simple, that it is highly
Memorable, Sequential and Effective.
Each part of this process is extremely important, and your overall success is largely down to how well you sequentially move from one step to the next. If you make a complete mess of Monday (opening), you are unlikely to get a chance to find out what the customer wants in Tuesday (interviewing) and then you are likely to end up making a mess of Wednesday (your pitch) and you’ll get stuck in Thursday (convincing) and never get to Friday (your close).
The reason I like this method is that it is a memory aid which isn’t prescriptive. The best way to look at a sales call, is that it is just a conversation, albeit a structured conversation. If you can make yourstyle conversational you will be far more effective.
It is very tempting, especially when you are nervous, to simply follow a process and behave like a robot or, perhaps worse, just blurt out product features randomly. Have you ever noticed how, when somebody starts selling something to you, they often slip into a different pattern of speech? It feels weird doesn’t it? The real skill in my view is keeping a sales call natural - ‘The art of selling without selling’ to sort of quote Bruce Lee.
Using something as simple as the days of the week is easy to remember and is sequential. It acts as a guide in the sales call without clouding your thoughts like some complicated acronym might. This helps you to be natural and gives you space to listen carefully.
With practice, you will naturally start following this process in all your sales interactions and this will vastly increase your chances of getting to Friday and closing more sales. In fact, if you follow any sales process, you will be way ahead of many mediocre salespeople. Follow the Working Week Sales Process and you will stay in control of your sales calls and be more professional in all aspects of your dealings with your customers.
Learn more about how the sales process on the 90 Degree Course.
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