In order to engage in the sales process we need to understand how people make buying decisions. An effective seller is one who helps people to achieve their goals. In the words of Zig Zigler, “The more you help people get what they want, the more you’ll get what you want”.
First, it would be useful to understand the difference between marketing and selling. Marketing is everything that happens before someone identifies himself or herself as a potential Prospect. This can be in the form of websites, brochures, trade shows, networking, cold calls, or anything that puts someone in front of a prospective Prospect. It is best done in the world of Suspects (a Suspect is anyone in your target market). That would include anyone whom you believe may be a possible Prospect.
What is a Prospect?
A Prospect is a Suspect who:
• has a need for your product or service
• is able to afford your product or service
• is able to make the decision to buy it.
The Buying Process.
Every buyer must go through the Buying Process, no matter how simple or complex the sale. The Buyer makes a decision on how to buy in the following manner:
1. YOU: The buyer must first decide that you are someone with whom he can see himself doing business. You look like her expectation of someone from whom she will buy.
2. YOUR COMPANY: Your company is one he has heard of and trusts. In the case where there is very little to distinguish between you and your company because you are your company, this distinction may become blurred.
3. YOUR PRODUCT OR YOUR SERVICE
4. YOUR PRICE
The important issue here is that price is the fourth area on which you must compete, and it is not relevant if they have not “bought” you, your company, or your product or service.
The Sales Process
While your Prospect is going through a Buying Process, you, the seller, are going through the Sales Process.
2. Gain favorable attention
3. Needs assessment or fact finding
5. Gaining Commitment
After you have found yourself in front of a Prospect and have introduced yourself, you begin the process of gaining favorable attention. It’s nice to comment on the elements that you and the Prospect may have in common, but more importantly, it is useful to demonstrate interest in the Prospect’s situation.
Who knows more about the product, you the, seller, or the buyer? The answer, obviously, is you, the seller. Who knows more about the buyer’s situation, you or the buyer? Again, obviously, the buyer.
You must ask the buyer enough questions until you can answer the question. “If I were the buyer, would I buy my product or service?”
When you can answer that question in the affirmative, your job is easy because the first Rule of the Universe is:
“Most people when given the same information will come very close to the same conclusions.” *
So why don’t they come to the same conclusion? The answer is that people have different backgrounds, conditioning, prejudices, and communications. The solution? Ask questions, share information.
The truth is that no two people can have the exact same information, but nevertheless the Rule holds. If we are disagreeing, we obviously have different information. Your job as a seller is to share information. How do you do this? You continue to ask questions. Either the buyer will see what you see, and buy your product or service, or you will learn more and discover why not. This is not selling. Rather, it is true information sharing. You, the seller, moves from the position of seller to that of trusted advisor or assistant buyer.
At this point it is useful to remember the structure of Goal Setting in the questioning process. You must ask the Prospect “what are your goals?” “What are you trying to achieve?” When the Prospect answers, you, the seller, ask, “if you achieved that, what would be the benefit?” When the buyer answers, you ask again, “what would be the benefit of that?” You need to ask this at least 4 times. The first time you will receive what might be called a politically correct answer. You need to get an emotional answer. After you get the answer to the benefit question, you must ask”if you don’t reach your goal, what would be the negative consequence?” Again, you must look for an emotional response. After you have asked these three series of questions, you then ask, “What is
keeping you from achieving that which you really want?” “What are your obstacles?” When the Prospect answers this question, your response is to ask,”if I had a way to help
* as quoted by Ray Overdorff
You achieve that which you said you really wanted, should we continue speaking with each other?”
All you have done is to have qualified the Prospect as to need.
Another wonderful benefit of this arises when we revisit # 2 and #3 of the Selling Process. What happens when I demonstrate interest in you? You have a ‘more favorable impression’ of me. You like me better. When you have a more favorable impression of me, isn’t it more likely that you will give me better responses in my fact finding? Of course. This continues indefinitely and builds a better and better relationship between buyer and seller.
After you have determined what the seller really wants (“need”), you must either then or before then return to the definition of a Prospect. You need to ask the question, is this person able to buy what it is you would like to help her buy? Can he afford it? If you have done a good job in the questioning process and she really is a prospect, price will never be a problem. I will go one step further and say that price is never the problem. If someone is truly a Prospect and there appears to be a price issue, it is not price, but rather perceived value. Whose responsibility is it that the Prospect sees the value? It is your responsibility as the seller.
Finally, you need to ascertain that the person with whom you are speaking is in fact a decision maker. You do this by asking something like, “if we were to agree that this product or service is for you, are you the one that will make the final decision?” If the person says no, do not attempt to complete the sale, but rather the new sale becomes how this person leads you to the real Prospect.
If all of these things are done correctly, you can then move to step #4 of the Selling Process and only present that which the Prospect said he wanted and move to gaining commitment and completing a successful sale.