“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” – Peter Drucker
I have spent most of the past 30 years either selling products or services, teaching and coaching others how to sell and all the while continuing to add to my knowledge about what it takes to be successful in sales. This experience has enabled me to develop a 5 step process that individuals and organizations can apply to increase their effectiveness and achieve maximum sales results.
There are countless sales systems, processes, models, and guidelines available in the market place. To varying degrees most of them work and whether you subscribe to my approach doesn’t matter. What matters is that you follow a process that is time tested; non-manipulative or deceptive and focuses on delivering value to the customer. Beyond the “process” you must also develop and refine the “skills” that focus on building relationships, improving communication and operating in an ethical and professional manner. Ultimately the goal is to become totally natural and proficient in your delivery so you can focus on the client and function at a level of “Unconscious Competence”.
Here’s a high level overview of the integrated five step frame work I use to teach and coach my clients. Apply it to improve your effectiveness in 2014.
- Sales Strategy and Plan. Ensure your sales strategy aligns with, and supports your overall marketing, branding and positioning goals. Define specific sales goals in terms of outcomes that are both quantitative (numbers and percentages) and qualitative (customer satisfaction goals and relationships) you want to achieve. Fundamentally, you have to know where you are going and what your overall objectives are if you want to succeed. This step also sets the foundation for all your sales and service activities.
- Sales Process. Apply a proven sales process. If you don’t have one, use the Kison Sales Diamond™, which is a powerful framework that lays out the six steps in the progression to make a sale. The Kison model has two overarching objectives which are “Earn the Right” to “Secure Commitment”. Within those two steps a logical and intuitive framework exists that can be applied to prospecting for new clients, taking existing clients to the higher levels of sales or closing the sale and securing commitment. The process provides a step-by-step reference as to where you are in the selling process and enables you to stay on track or make important course corrections based on situational changes or client requirements.
- Skills. I know that if a sales objective is well defined, a process is being applied, and the essential sales skills are developed, success is essentially guaranteed. E.Q. and the related soft skills enable you to build a relationship with your clients to achieve your goal and make the sales process work. Some of the critical soft skills required are rapport, creating trust, active listening, rephrasing, problem solving, objection and conflict resolution, negotiation, follow-up and a strong service attitude. Become a skilled sales person sets you apart from the process or script based sellers that appear disingenuous or pushy.
- Support and Coaching. Anyone who is a successful sales person has a coach or mentor. No one becomes truly successful by doing it their own way. The best all have outside support that they use as a resource. A coach, who can be a trustworthy peer or manager, will ensure you are on the right track and will tell you what you need to hear but may not want to hear in order for you to grow and improve. A great coach will be there cheering as you cross the finish line and celebrating your success with you.
- Results. If you apply the previous four steps, success will generally be achieved. Results can only be realized if your goal and desired outcomes are clearly defined in step one – Sales Strategy & Plan. Results typically come in two forms – quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative results come in the form of increased sales, profitability, higher margin, and market and customer share. Qualitative results are enhanced relationships, trust, loyalty, referrals and most importantly, being viewed as a strategic partner by your clients.Above all, the intrinsic benefit of knowing you did a great job by providing a product, service or solution that helped your client will be something that motivates you to continue serving others by applying the five steps.
Acquaint yourself with this model, assess where you are at on each of these steps and make it your goal to become fully competent and aware of how to implement the plan. By applying the process, developing the skills and having a coach and supporter you are setting yourself up to achieve maximum results.
“All business success rests on something labeled a sale, which at least momentarily weds company and customer.” – Tom Peters