I would never say that to be successful long-term in professional sales is easy. What I would say, however, is that the formula is easy. The question then becomes: Do you have the intestinal fortitude to continually execute a simple formula? And can you continue to execute through the peaks and valleys that you will certainly be faced with? Again, the formula is simple. Having said that, it is still not for everyone. But if you have the people skills, are self-motivated, and have a solid work ethic, by following these three simple steps you can’t help but be successful. Here we go:
Prepare – Listen – Present
Let’s briefly look at each one.
Prepare – Before you make your initial sales call, it is absolutely critical to do your homework. Research the company you are calling on. Understand their industry, their products or services, their competitors, as well as their financial strength. Is it a private company or is it public? Then do your best to get some information on the executive you will be calling on. Has he worked at other companies where your product had a presence? Is he motivated by service or price? Do you have anything in common with him? Perhaps he is a golfer, skier, tennis player, motorcycle rider, etc. What common ground can you establish either from a business standpoint or personal level? The more information you gather BEFORE your initial sales call, the better prepared and more comfortable you will be.
Listen – On your initial call, your objective should be to determine if there is a business fit between your company and the prospect. That is it – PERIOD. Because if it is clear that there is no fit, then you don’t want to waste any more of your time OR your prospect’s time on a dead-end proposal. In fact, I would be bold enough to tell your prospect that your sole purpose for this meeting is to determine if there is a viable business opportunity. Believe me, your prospect will respect your honesty and integrity, and you certainly will not be viewed as a typical salesman. Then you will ask fact-finding questions that will assist you in uncovering a business fit. You will LISTEN carefully to the answers and, based on them, ask follow-up questions. Based on the research you did before the sales call, in conjunction with the information you received on the call, you should be able to determine if the prospect is worth pursuing. I would close the meeting by telling your client that you need to go back to your office and debrief with your technical staff and management. You will schedule a follow-up meeting ONLY if you believe there is a solid business fit.
After you have digested the information gleaned from your initial meeting and discussed it internally with your team, you are now ready to schedule your follow-up meeting with the client. Be crisp and on point with the value your product or service offers. It is critical to point out the specific issues or challenges your prospect articulated to you and how your proposal addresses them. And most important, the proposal should clearly map product benefits to quantified business value. In other words, how is your proposal going to help your prospect reduce cost or generate revenue? This is not a time to present a 30-page PowerPoint on how great your company is.
I know it sounds simple. And it is.
Unfortunately, a large majority of sales folks don’t adhere to it. Don’t be one of them!
UNIVERSAL SALES TRUTH #1
Surround yourself with successful people of integrity
Become wise by walking with the wise;
Hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.