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Nov 13
2017

Steps to Sales Success

Posted by: Steve Marr

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I’ve written articles on sale success before. I thought it was time to cover some basic steps that are critical for anyone connecting with customers. Actually the steps are important for more than anyone in sales because we’re constantly selling ourselves to our employer or others.

1.  Become an expert about your product.

If you are unable to answer basic questions, the customer will quickly lose confidence that you know what you’re talking about. Without their confidence, you will not gain the trust necessary to make a sale.

 

2.  Understand your competitors.

While I don’t like to spend a lot of time thinking or reacting to my competition, I need to understand with whom I compete. If somebody else has a lower price, I’d better know it and understand how to articulate to a potential customer why I have good value, albeit at a higher cost. If I fail to make this point I will lose the sale to anybody who has researched price.  I need to understand where a competitor may be stronger on one point and share where I have an advantage. This helps drive home a sale.

3.  Understand customer needs.

This is perhaps the most fundamental step to success. A customer need is a hot button. When we understand that hot button, we can generate an enthusiastic sale. When we fail to connect what we offer to their need, the sale has a way of quickly drifting off to a competitor.

4.  Find ways to stay in front of your customers.

Depending on your business, you can accomplish this through blogs, social media, customer contact or even cold calling. Anytime you are not specifically in contact with a customer or taking steps to be in contact, you are losing an opportunity. I don’t like shaking the bushes with cold calling any more than you like it, however I do it because persistence pays off.  Sales is a numbers game. The more calls and customer contact you have, the more closed business you accomplish. It is true that cold calling will generate a lower close rate; however, cold calling is a way of staying in front of prospects and will build up your sales numbers.

5.  Customers buy from people they know and trust.

Sometimes after the cold call and I’m on my first visit, I can’t get the prospect to take their eyes off their computer screen and focus on my presentation. Clearly a poor result. However, by the fourth visit they’re looking up and in engaging in conversation. I was earning the right to make a presentation for future business. The door opened because of persistence. The prospect was getting to know me and beginning to understand that I was committed to serving their needs. Additionally, we gain trust by doing what we say, doing it on time and for the quoted price.

6. Study your customer as you prepare your presentation.

When I make sales calls, I know in advance what the five potential hot buttons are for the customer. I don’t always know which hot button will be persuasive. I watch the customer carefully for reactions. Frequently I pick up quickly which point is a key to a specific customer, allowing me to drive the point home quickly.

Furthermore, when I have made enough sales calls to understand what customer objections are likely to be, I have prepared rebuttals for each objection. Nearly every customer will have objections; and if we don’t have our counterpoint ready and rehearsed daily, we won’t win many sales.

7.  Understand when to close the sale.

Move in too fast and the customer tends to look for an escape route. Close too slowly and your customer wriggles free. We need to monitor customers carefully because frequently they share some signal when they’re ready to buy. If we don’t catch their signal, we need to use trial closes.  For example: Would you like the product delivered Monday or Tuesday of next week?

Each of these steps needs to be carefully thought through, crafted and practiced. They will make you more effective. King Solomon wrote, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” (Proverbs 21:5, NLT) When working in sales, good planning is critical. Work through these steps. 

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