By: Steve Heroux, Guest Blog Contributor
We've all had our fair share of great sales presentations, amazing client interactions and successful orders. But we’ve all also had the occasional screw-up, been late to an appointment, or completely dropped the ball. The one thing, believe it or not, that holds most salespeople back….
Is their sales process. Really. Studies show that roughly 80% of salespeople are uncomfortable with their own selling process! If you’re uncomfortable doing anything, how can you expect to be good at it, let alone even want to do it?
Having a process that’s comfortable for you is of the utmost importance. Sales is not a one-size-fits-all industry, nor should you have a canned, run-of-the-mill sales process. What works for one person may not work for another and you’ve just got to find your groove, so you can perform with confidence when you’re in front of clients and prospects.
Here are five tips that will help you create a sales process that works for you and in turn, will give you the best chance for success.
1. Develop a Consistent Prospecting Schedule
Many of us love the results when we make a sale, whether it’s the income, the feeling of accomplishment, or the fact we provided a great product or service to someone. What we forget about is the work it took to get there. In most cases, prospecting, or lack thereof, is one reason people aren’t as successful as they could be.
It's not necessarily that they don’t want to prospect. Wait, yes, it is. They don’t! Making cold calls, knocking on doors, and sending emails are all part of the sales game and that will never change. What needs to change is the way you prospect.
What I’ve found is if I set time aside in small blocks (no more than 45-50 minutes), I can get much more accomplished. I learned this from one of the top business professionals in the world and it works great. Instead of dreading that you have to make cold calls all morning, just set time aside for that amount and see what happens. Try calling from 9 am to 9:45 am, then again from 4 pm to 4:45 pm.
I'm not saying only call during those two times, but I’m giving you examples of how to get focused prospecting done, in short bursts of energy, so you have excitement and enthusiasm when you start the process. The best times to prospect of course, are Tuesdays through Thursdays, generally between 8 am and 11 am and between 3 pm and 5 pm.
2. Research Your Prospect
Most salespeople just show up. They do their dog and pony show. They hope their prospect buys. Ugh. If you want to make professional income, you’ve got to do what professionals do. Professionals research their prospects before they set foot in front of them. Think of a professional sports team. They don’t just show up. They watch hours of game film to learn everything they can about their opponent. Here are a few tips that can help you before your next sales call:
Ask other colleagues if they know your prospect or anything about their company
Get detailed information from the person who referred you (if applicable)
Google them (duh!). See if they have any recent accolades or feature articles about them
3. Build Trust and Engage
The old-school way of selling is dead. It’s not really dead, it just should be. There are so many salespeople out there today who continually use “tactics” and manipulation to try and make sales. I’m sorry, but it’s 2018 and people deserve more respect than that. I remember early on in my career, learning from a “guru” that I should find something on my prospect’s desk or wall and then ask them about it. I mean, it makes sense right? Take a phony interest in something you care or know nothing about to pretend that you have something in common with a prospect, so they’ll buy, right? Wrong.
When you meet a prospect for the first time, simply take a genuine interest in learning about them. Ask them how long they’ve been living here. Find out how they started their company and dive in to the details. Was it hard? How long did it take? Were you scared? Ask REAL questions. It’s not a police interrogation. Don’t worry about going right into your sales pitch and featuring & benefiting them to death like 99% of other salespeople. Be real, that’s it. I spend at a minimum, 40% of my sales meetings just having conversations, engaging with them and learning about what makes them tick.
4. STOP "Handling" Objections
This one really bugs me. As if all you have to do is some six-step system to “handle objections” and then BOOM! Sale is made! Ummmm, no. Like I said earlier, the days of the proverbial Used-Car Salesman techniques are over and done with. People know when they are being manipulated and of course they know when they’re being “sold.” How do you feel when you are being “sold” on something? Exactly.
What you need to do is start doing better and more effective sales presentations! The reason people get so many objections is because they haven’t done a number of things. They haven’t:
Created real value for their product or service
Differentiated themselves from the competition
Demonstrated a high-level of knowledge about their market or industry
And the list goes on and on. You need to ask the RIGHT questions. More importantly, you need to find out what their challenges are and how it makes them feel. Find out how it’s affecting their business, how it’s hurting the morale of the company, and how long it’s been weighing on them. This is what professional sales people do that sets them apart from the rest.
5. Don't Forget About Your Clients!
My dentist used to tell me, “Steve, only floss the teeth you want to keep.” Gee, thanks. In reality, it’s a great lesson for sales people because you should only stay in touch with the clients you want to keep. The majority of your business should come from existing clients. If it’s not, there’s something in your sales process that can be improved.
There are several things you can do to ensure that your clients will be clients for a very long time. One of which is to provide world-class service. By this, I don’t just mean telling them you’re going to provide world-class service. Actually do it! Make sure you answer your phone when clients call, return emails and voicemails in a timely manner, and see to it that their first bill/invoice/delivery goes off without a hitch. Many salespeople are on to the next prospect as soon as they close the deal. Stop by their office unexpectedly and drop off some cookies or goodies. You can send them a nice note in the mail to say thank you (unexpectedly), and make sure they know how much you value them. It’s the little things that make all the difference.
Another very important function of keeping clients long-term is your ability to provide value after the sale. Remember, 95% of salespeople couldn’t care less about nurturing their clients over the years, but if you want to be successful in sales, the next point I’m going to make is critical. Being of value can mean many things, but here are a couple of suggestions that may help.
Send them an article or blog post you just read, that you know they’d enjoy and may help them in their business. Refer and introduce them to people before you ask them to refer you. They’ll see that you have their best interest at heart and that you are a giver, not a taker. Lastly, have a Client Appreciation Event. It doesn’t have to cost you thousands of dollars and be at some big, fancy hotel. It could be a night out at the ball game, it could be a Happy Hour where you pick up all the apps (they pay for drinks), or even a potluck/BBQ at your house or a colleague’s house. Show your clients you appreciate them, they mean the world to you, and you’ll never run out of happy clients.
Having a sales process that you trust, believe in, and most importantly, enjoy, will allow you to have the confidence you need when it comes to meeting your goals and reaching the success you deserve.
Steve Heroux is a Professional Sales Coach and co-founder of Next Level Sales Coaching. His 20-year career has seen great success and has generated more than $15M in sales. You can connect with Steve and learn how to up your own sales game by clicking the button below.
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