Ever wonder why sales organizations are so big on having a sales process? I learned why the hard way.
I’ll never forget the first big sales presentation I made. It was awful. I was all over the place! I stumbled the whole way through, threw out the price in the first 30 seconds, didn’t know the answer to some questions, and did a horrible job overcoming objections.
The customer finally started to ask some buying questions. I thought this meant I needed to explain the product all over again and in more detail. Needless to say, they were more confused after that, and I over-explained them out of the sale.
After the call, I knew that I could not have another presentation like that.
The problem was that I wasn’t following the sales process. I needed a sales call roadmap!
Following a sales process helped me to navigate successfully through my future sales calls. I had great results, and you can too if you follow these 7 easy steps.
The SLB Sales Process
3. Explore and Rapport
4. Offer Solution
5. Field Questions and Objections
Who you gonna call? The right prospects!
A full funnel is the beginning of any successful sales process. How do you fill that funnel up? By prospecting.
One of the worst times in my life as a sales professional was the one time (and the last time) I let my funnel run dry. I really slacked off during the holidays. I made great excuses, like “nobody was going to buy anything because they’re spending their money on Christmas”, and “I can’t get ahold of any business owners because they’re all on vacation.”
I spent all of December working closing down my current accounts for the year. I didn’t spend any time on new relationships.
In January, I realized that I didn’t have any current customer relationships to work on until February, but I hadn’t been prospecting or working on any new relationships either. I was starting from scratch.
That was a lean month for me. I somehow managed to pull a Hail Mary pass at the end of the month, but I missed my quota and my commission check.
Don’t make the same mistake I did. Keep your sales funnel full, and start your sales call process off on the right foot.
Once you have your funnel full, the next part in your sales process is making contact. But what do you say? It is important in the initial contact that you have a well prepared and practiced opening.
I’m not a huge fan of “scripts”. Sales is not “one size fits all”. What works for you, how you sell, may not be the same way that works for your colleague.
While I don’t believe in scripting out your entire call, I do believe that you should write down your opening. When we make that first initial contact we have a minimal amount of time to make a maximum impact. Typically, you only have about 15-30 seconds to capture your prospects attention before they hang up on you.
Due to this time constraint, we need to use the most powerful, impactful language we can in that short amount of time. For most salespeople, this isn’t something you just do off-the-cuff.
A good opening is prepared ahead of time and practiced. Don’t read it off the paper. Then you sound like a robot. Practice it enough that nobody would ever know it was rehearsed.
Once you get their attention with your killer opening statement, the next step is to qualify the lead. As a few questions to determine if you are a good fit for each other.
If you are working through the sales call process as an outside rep, you’ll probably want to schedule an appointment. If you work in inside sales, it can be beneficial to work by appointment also, but if the prospect has time to talk now, then do it now.
When you are making your initial contact, it is crucial that you make it clear to the prospect that it will be safe to say “no”. If your prospect knows that at the end of your conversation if it’s not a good fit, you will part as friends.
This will make the rest of the sales process so much easier, and will help you to avoid chasing down dead leads later on.
Explore and Rapport
Whether you’re aiming for a one-call-close, or you’ve set the appointment, the next step is after your opening is Explore and Rapport. This is the discovery part of the call.
Exploring is all about finding out your prospects needs and the problems they’re facing so that you can determine which (if any) of your products or services will be the right fit.
Exploration is when we go by the 80/20 rule- 20% of the time we’re talking, and the other 80% of the time we’re listening. Ask open-ended, deep-digging questions that will get your prospect to open up.
It’s also important to not just listen actively and ask the most logical, engaging follow up questions. Don’t just read your exploration questions off a list. This is not an interrogation. It should be a conversation, so listen to what they say, and respond accordingly.
This is also a crucial time to build rapport. Your questions don’t need to stay on your product alone. Get to know your client as a human being, that way you can really uncover what motivates them- what is their “why”?
If you don’t know your prospects “why” or what is motivating them to buy, don’t bother moving on to the next step.
The SLB Sales Process is all about helping you to help your client. We don’t sell things, we solve problems. During your Exploration you should be able to determine which product or service is going to be in the best interest of your prospect.
Before you begin to pitch, you need to recap what you’ve just uncovered in your Exploration. Make sure that you and your client are on the same page as far as what their needs are.
Then, present your solution. The best way to do this is to tie it back to what the prospect has told you. For example: let’s say the attorney you’re talking to said his receptionist is overwhelmed because she doesn’t have an easy way to keep track of the many appointments, and the scheduling feature of your software would be especially beneficial for her. Position the feature by tying it to the specific benefit they need.
“Mr. Brown, I know you said your receptionist is just bogged down trying to keep track of the appointments for all of the attorneys in your office. Well, our software actually has a built in scheduling feature.
This is perfect for you because this would allow your receptionist to easily manage everyone’s schedules simultaneously, and your client’s will no longer be frustrated by being double booked.
How do you think this would impact the day-to-day operations at your firm?”
During your presentation, be sure to use lots of “trial closes”. Getting the prospect to agree to the value of several small aspects of your presentation will make it that much easier to get them to agree to the overall solution.
Field Questions and Objections
Any wise consumer is going to have questions. It’s important you know enough about your product or service to be able to field these adequately. If you don’t know the answer yourself, then know where to find it. Leaving questions unanswered can severely stall your sale, and create FUD in your customer (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt).
Along with answering questions, we need to be able to successfully overcome any objections or concerns the prospect might have. The most effective way I have found to overcome objections is by using your EEARS– Expound, Echo, Affirm, Respond, Solution.
Expound– Ask the customer to tell you a little more. Sometimes the first response isn’t the true objection. By asking them to clarify you will help get to the true objection.
Echo– Repeat back to the customer what they’ve told you. Sometimes what we hear is not what they’re actually saying. Make sure everyone is on the same page. “So what I’m hearing you say is that you were burned by another company in the past, so that makes you hesitant today, is that right?”
Affirm– Everyone needs to feel validated. It’s a knee-jerk reaction of a lot of salespeople to get defensive when they first hear an objection. It’s imperative that we don’t go into defense mode, but instead let the prospect know that their feelings and opinions are valid. Say things like, “I understand” or “I appreciate where you’re coming from.”
Respond– Based on what your client’s true objection was, now provide some data or information to assuage the client’s fear or concern.
“I’m sorry you had a bad experience in the past. We have many happy clients with this same program. I’d love to share some of their results and testimonials with you. Would that help you to feel more confident in moving forward with us today?”
Solution– Get back to the solution you’re offering.
The close starts long before you actually ask for the sale. Set yourself up for a successful close by using trial closes throughout your Solution. Say things like, “does that make sense for your organization?” or “this is exactly what you need based on what you’ve told me, wouldn’t you agree?”.
By getting their smaller buy-ins with your trial closes you are getting them into “yes” mode. When you ask for the final commitment, they’ll be so accustomed to saying “yes” it will be an easy answer for them.
Also, when it comes to closing, make sure the time is right. Don’t miss an opportunity to close because you aren’t in tune to buying signals. I’ve seen so many salespeople (myself included) lose out on a sale because they missed the opportunity for the close and continued to educate the customer.
We salespeople love to talk, especially when we have a deep product knowledge. When you’re passionate about your product it’s very easy to over-educate. Make sure you pivot from the Solution to the Close when the timing is right. It’s like a Sales Sixth-Sense.
If your customer is asking buying questions, answer them, and then ask for their commitment. If you overcome an objection successfully, ask for their commitment.
Don’t be afraid to ask for their business. If you’ve done a thorough exploration, built strong rapport, and offered the right solution, closing the sale should be the natural outcome.
Follow up is one of the differentiating characteristics between successful salespeople and those who aren’t. The end of the sales call process should always be follow up. If your sales call resulted in a sale, great! Follow up with the client to make sure everything is going smoothly.
If your sales call did not result in a sale, follow up with the client until they tell you they’re not interested. You might be thinking, “I don’t want to waste time chasing down dead leads.” You’re right. That’s not productive.
However, if you made is safe to say “no” at the beginning of your sales call, then follow-up will be a piece of cake. If you didn’t end the call with a commitment, be sure to remind your client when you follow up that it’s still okay to say no.
This may sound counter-intuitive, however, people tend to be most receptive when the pressure is off. Nobody likes high pressured sales.
Remember, while you’re going through your sales process your client is going through a decision-making process. It’s crucial that they feel respected and supported.
This will help you avoid wasting time on people who aren’t interested and give you the confidence to continue to follow up as much as you need to for the people who just take longer to buy.
If they haven’t told me “no, I’m not interested”, then I will stay in contact with them until they do. If I feel like they’re dragging their feet, or avoiding telling me no, I have no problem just asking them if they’re still interested. If they are, I keep calling.
I don’t call them every day, but after each conversation, if I don’t get their commitment, I let them know I’m going to call them in a few days. I keep trying.
The sale isn’t dead until it’s dead. So, don’t give up- follow up!
If you follow this simple sales process, you are guaranteed to have better conversations, chase down less dead leads, and increase your overall numbers. This tried and true method has helped countless salespeople get out of their slump and onto the leaderboard. Are you next?