In the current economic climate, where 3 out 4 businesses fail due to lack of income, it’s easy to see why sales is such an important part of business.
Whether it’s unsuccessful client outreach, or lack of customer interest in products/services, experiencing low sales can make or break a business.
Sales should be a vital component to any entrepreneur’s marketing strategy. Marketing generates leads for a business. Sales is the execution of those leads.
In other words, the closing of sale pulls the trigger on all of the marketing preparation that it took for a prospect to become attracted to your business. i.e. search engine marketing, online advertising, email marketing.
Sales is a step-by-step process that anyone can learn.
Below is the 7 Step Professional Selling Process you should follow whenever you’re involved in selling your business’ products/services or conducting client outreach.
Step 1) Prospecting
Occurs whenever you’re in the client outreach stage. This is the point when you are looking for potential customers to do business with after you’ve correctly identified your target market in your marketing strategy.
A great place to look is past customers of yours who were pleased with your product/service. These are what you call ‘loyal’ customers. If you consistently satisfy their consumer needs, then they will be with you for the long haul.
If you’re a newly founded startup, you may not have a ton of past clients to choose from. Various social media outreach strategies, online advertising, browsing LinkedIn contacts, and email marketing tools are great pools to draw from when trying to find clients. After you’ve found your first client, go above and beyond and they can refer you to others in the future.
Step 2) Building Rapport
A psychological term that is very useful in sales. Creating rapport is vital in creating a harmonious atmosphere of trust with your clients. Whether it’s mirroring their body language, or playing upon areas of commonality. It’s unfortunate that those in sales neglect this stage because it is really the key that will take you to your ultimate goal of closing the sale.
Failing to build sincere rapport is a mistake you should avoid making. For instance, within moments of meeting a potential client, shoving your 5 minute sales pitch down their throats before getting to know each other on a friendly level is a mistake. Get to know your client organically, gain their trust, and go from there.
Step 3) Identifying Needs
A step that should be completed during market research. You want to know your consumer. What they value. The kinds of services they need for their lives. Their families.
Are your customers impressed by appearance? More concerned with the actual performance of your product/service? It’s important to sell to the actual needs of your consumer, not what you think they need. After all, they’re the one’s who will potentially buy your product.
Step 4) Presenting
This is the point where you make your sales pitch for your product. During this step, it’s easy to get caught up into the ins-and-outs of your product. However, you must focus on what is important to your customer. During your presentation, it’s important to constantly keep the attention of your prospect and demonstrate the value your product/service has in the lives of your prospect.
Occasionally, you will have customers who are more analytical in nature and want to know the nitty gritty of the product. This is why it’s so important to know your product. You must be prepared for questions of your prospect to come up in your sales presentation.
Which brings me to the next step…
Step 5) Answering Objections
A common component of any professional selling process. You should always prepare for negative feedback in advance. Or even criticism of your product. When prepping for your sales presentation, try to imagine the kinds of questions your target market might have when they are viewing your presentation.
After preparing in advance, you can quickly think on your feet when it comes to combatting critics. When I say combatting, I don’t mean physical or verbally combat them. Keep your cool, and combat critics with well-honed facts about your product.
Step 6) Closing the Sale
The moment everyone in sales looks forward to. Some of the reasons those in sales have trouble arriving to this stage could have to with the following:
a) Poor Presentation b) Didn’t show in-depth knowledge of product c) Lack of confidence in their product
If this is you, check out my post on various closing techniques you can incorporate into your professional selling process.
Step 7) Getting Resales & Referrals
A stage many forget. Probably because they’re so excited during the actual closing of the sale. However, a satisfied customer is so valuable even after the sale has finished.
For one, this customer may want to eventually buy more products or sign up for other services of your business. Also, this satisfied customer more than likely has a pool of contacts and friends who could be potential customers of yours in the future.
Creating a referral program and consistently implementing it will help you in those months when client outreach efforts run short. A few strategies you could use is to add customers of your business to your email list and send them a monthly newsletter.
You could email or mail a follow up card thanking them for their business. You could also ask them to refer your business to those they know. Also, holidays are great ways to stay on the top of a previous customer’s minds with a Happy Holidays greeting card.
Cover Image Credit: Christies’s Art Auction of Pablo Picasso LES FEMMES D’ALGER (VERSION ‘O’)