Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Things that you can do to sell like a professional salesperson.

Selling is one of the few areas in which it is extremely necessary to always try to do things in the most efficient way possible, especially because there is a period of time, the famous "Sales Cycle", whose use is vital for the achievement of the best possible results.

What is the "Sales Cycle" and why is it so important?

The "Sales Cycle" is the period of time (sorry about being redundant here) between the moment a sales rep begins to work with a particular prospect until they come to an agreement and sign the deal.

Depending on the type of product we are referring to, this "Sales Cycle" may be longer or shorter. There are products and services that you can sell in a single visit, one day; there are others which require weeks and even up to several months.

It all depends on the type of product you are selling.

Understanding that time is precious and a completely non-renewable resource, we know that every minute that goes by can not be recovered, so every minute of your “Sales Cycle” which is not used on the proper way, becomes a minute lost and will be reflected directly in the profits and losses of your business.

The "Sales Cycle" is worth gold because it directly influences your bottom line.

It is for this direct connection with your business’ bottom line that properly managing the "Sales Cycle" is really SO (with capital and underlining) important!

However, as with all things in life, if we follow a series of guidelines, we can make better use of our “Sales Cycle” time by looking at how professional salespeople do.

What are the guidelines they use to use their "Sales Cycle" time efficiently and effectively?

Concentrate most of your time on serving customers who can actually buy from you.

As I wrote above, in sales, time really turns into gold and every minute you invest in a customer that does not represent a clear business opportunity for you, it is a minute you could be investing in another one which could truly buy.

In the same way that in HHRR is often said "contract slowly and fire quickly," when we refer to sales the same thing also happens: you must study the market very calmly to be able to choose business prospects with good potential and then, once the sales process is underway, you should quickly discard those who do not have a palpable interest in doing business with you.

We could summarize everything in this short sentence:

"Slowly and calmly select the best prospects, and quickly discard those who do not represent a real opportunity"

That is, take the time you need to select the best prospects for your product and then, once you’ve already initiated conversations with them, quickly discard those in which your assumptions turned out to be incorrect.

Beyond the sale itself, concentrate on developing good and fruitful relationships.

Closing the sale is a natural process and occurs as a result of a job well done. If, as a salesperson, you strive to develop relationships of trust and mutual benefit with your customers, you will be able to sell more easily and build permanent sources of business opportunities.

Keep in mind that the sale closes when the customer feels confident that your proposal is the one that truly meets their needs, that you - as a professional - will not leave them hanging behind after closing the deal and that they will be able to count on you in any situation that is required and if any problem arises.

Developing this trust and cultivating it is the best way to guarantee a client for a long time.

Ask the questions that are needed to know your client in depth, listen carefully to what they have to say, and you will surely find in their answers information enough to make your selling job better.

The moment your client feels that you are really interested in knowing their real situation and looking for the best way to help them solve their real problem, then you can say you’ve earned their trust.

And that is critical to the development of a long-term relationship.

Clearly identify what your customer needs.

It happens frequently, because of the desire to close the sale and bring the business home, that you may fall into the temptation of talking more than it is required, focusing your presentation on product features and forget about listening carefully to your client to clearly understand what they need.

And, if you can not understand the real needs of your customer, how can you be sure that your product is what fits?

Let's suppose a simple situation, you sell a computerized platform for business administration. You meet with a client whose main problem is that, in the way he is managing his business now, he has no idea how much money is to be collected, who his main debtors are and he feels distressed because, even though they have a very interesting turnover, he does not see the money coming in.

Do you think it's really worth explaining him how your product will allow them to keep all accounting entries up to date, in a simple and efficient way, with a very user friendly interface?

Of course it will not! What will catch their attention the most will be explaining them how simply requesting a report of outstanding accounts receivable they will have in their hands an accurate and up-to-date listing of all the money that is due to be collected, which companies are owing money, when are invoices going to be past due and which are already past due. That is the right answer to their need!

Do you notice how clearly identifying the customer's need in this case, allowed you to choose that attribute of your product that was aimed directly at it?

Make your sales presentation in a convincing way, without unnecessary pressures.

Depending on the type of product you are selling and the volume of the sale itself, there are times when pressing the customer to make a decision immediately becomes counterproductive.

I know in many books and sales conferences it is recommended to create the sense of urgency, explaining your customer that it is a time limited offer, the last unit of product you have in inventory and other arguments whose objective is to push for an immediate decision.

Pushing your customer to make an immediate decision can be counterproductive depending on the type of product you are selling.

However you have to know very well if those kinds of pushing arguments are right for your product and the way your customer makes the purchase decision. Usually, if your sales cycle is a long one, it will do no good to push your customer for an immediate decision as there is no possible way he can simply skip their purchase decision making protocol.

You might also think for a moment that the perfect sale happens when the customer makes the decision to do business with you, so, from a professional point of view, I think it is best to give your customer all the information and explanations  that are necessary to make a favorable decision for your company and your proposal, keeping in mind the purchase decision is to be taken by the client without any unnecessary pressure on your side.

If the customer notices you’re so desperate to close the sale, he will feel uncomfortable. Who would not feel this way?

Respond effectively to all doubts and concerns your prospect presents to you.

A professional salesperson is not afraid of questions that the customer can ask. Quite the contrary: understands these questions show the customer is interested in the product being offered and simply wants to be clear on all the information he’s receiving and ask those much needed questions to better understand what it is all about, and be sure he would be making the right decision.

Be worried when you are with a prospect who does not ask questions or have doubts. Such prospect is not interested in what you offer.

Answering these questions and doubts effectively is the standard rule for any professional seller. It is the only way in which the ground will be smoothed for the customer to make a purchase decision.

And once you have completed the round of questions and answers, always ask your client if everything is clear, if there is any more issues to be checked, if there is something still pending.

If all is well, if everything is in order, then you can calmly move to the next stage of the sale: how much will it cost?

If everything went well, ask the client to make a decision.

Finally, to top it all off and if everything has gone well, ask your client to make a decision.

If there is no doubt, if the price is right, if your product meets the main need of your client (the famous "pain point"), then what problem could there be for the customer to make a decision?

If the customer is really interested in what you offer and doesn’t have any doubts, why not ask him to make a decision?

And in the event that it was a decision that could not be taken at that precise moment, what problem would the prospect have in telling you when you could expect to receive an answer from them?

Remember that we are talking about a professionally made sale, in which the client is participating in an active and serious way. Obviously, if you have reached this point with a poor quality prospect, all the work could go down the drain.

But if you did your homework as you were supposed to and followed the recommendations I give you here, you should really have no problem getting a positive response from your prospect.

As you can see now, it is not as complicated to sell as the true professionals do.

Like everything else in this life, it is simply a matter of adding to your daily sales routine a series of steps that will allow you to make better use of your "Sales Cycle" time.

Picture credit: Peshkova / See portfolio

You might want to read the following posts:
How can you professionalize your sales team? Why do you need to do it?
Things I've Learned Throughout My Career As A Professional Sales Representative Which Can Be Very Useful To You.
4 attitudes you can learn from a professional sales representative.

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