This is the first in a series where we take a look at the process of selling from several different points of view, and intersperse that with some observations about communication and reputation management. Because we believe that is the best way to help you shape or retool your sales strategies and approaches. And yes, EVERYBODY’s sales strategies and approaches are worth looking at – at least once a year.
You can look at the current world of business and see there are basically only two jobs. Selling a product or service and working on the parts that support the eventual sale of a product or service.
Which means with apologies to Jerry Lee Lewis, (cue music), ‘There’s a whole lot of selling goin’ on’.
But like anything in life, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about selling. The trouble with writing about selling, however, is that there really is no ‘one size fits all’ methodology because every sales process is pretty much its own entity.
But there are some general rules that do apply to most selling situations and can probably help you as you go about the process of establishing, maintaining or fine-tuning your selling process.
1. Always be sure you know exactly who you are selling to.
In many selling situations, there are generally, at least two people who are involved in the buying process. There is the person who will use whatever you are selling. And there is the person who will approve the actual transaction.
There has always been a traditional debate about who the initial point of contact should be. And frankly, that depends on the company you are selling to. It used to be the larger the company, the higher up the food chain one had to go. The smaller the company, the closer to the owner you got.
Nowadays, it is much more complicated because especially in Canada, the larger the company, the more geographically dispersed the decision making power is. And several companies still follow the old hierarchical patterns, with fewer levels, while other companies forge new paths with team formats and group decision processes.
Generally speaking, however, it is still a safe assumption that the person who will actually use what you are selling will not likely not have the authority to make the purchase, but will be an important ally in the process if they find what you have to sell to be useful and worth having.
By the same token, the person who actually makes the buying decisions, may not be qualified to understand the utility and overall value your product or service represents.
So a good rule of thumb, in our opinion, would be to play detective (a feat we will discuss later) contact the user and sell him on the idea, and then let him refer you up the chain of decision makers.
2. Understand the relative importance of what you are selling
Not all sales are executive decisions. Not all sales processes fall into primary or even secondary purchase categories. Your job is to really figure out the relative value and importance of your product or services to the company you’re selling to.
An example would be a business that sells cleaning and sanitizing into companies. Cleaning and sanitizing systems are especially wonderful in public restrooms, kitchens, hotel laundries, manufacturing plants, and even slaughterhouses.
But the decision to buy doesn’t necessarily lie with the company’s Vice President of Purchasing and there may not be a readily identifiable user since soap and water is something that everyone uses every day. Yet imagine the negative impact of publicity from poor sanitary conditions and communicable diseases without it in public places.
If nothing else this example points out the need to understand the value of your product and the relative importance of it to the organization you are selling it into.
And the most effective way to do that is by being clear YOURSELF on the actual value your product or service truly represents to your prospect organization.
3. Keep Everything Very Simple
In any given selling situation you will always know way more about your product or service than the person you are trying to sell.
What happens far too often is that the enthusiasm sellers have for their product or service coupled with their in-depth knowledge, causes them to oversell. Quite simply, they overload their prospect with information.
Our best advice is to structure your sales pitch to be big on the “What’s In It For Me” benefits and let the prospect control how much he wants to know about it through his own questions.
This way you will come across as a problem solver and can still sell hard without making it look that way.
At Bullet Proof we have been involved with selling on many levels, and the insights we have developed are proving useful to the people who seek to better identify the who, why, how and when parts of their selling efforts.
If you feel your business could benefit from some professional sales coaching, give us a call. We can help.
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