The question that I get asked the most during seminars, workshops and trainings is, “How can I close more sales?” Fortunately, and unfortunately, the answer to that question is, “That depends on what you doing wrong in your selling process. Fix that and you will close more sales.” I find that most sales people really don’t know what they are doing wrong in their selling process or why they aren’t closing more deals. It is difficult to fix a problem you are not aware of. In my experience, the easiest way to start identifying where the mistakes are being made in your selling process is to follow a selling process or system and then evaluate your performance against that pre-defined system.
A Pearl of Wisdom
Let me share a story with you: In the beginning of my selling career I had an experience that made a huge impact on the way I sold after that. I was working for a graphic design and printing company in Denver, Colorado at the time. Our sales manager was a highly skilled, very experienced sales person who always led the company in sales. In a sales meeting one day we asked him to role-play with us. I was asked to be the “prospect” in the role-play. As we moved our chairs into position he said, “Just a minute. I need to get ready.” He quickly grabbed his notebook and drew a vertical line down the center of his paper, and then drew another horizontal line across the center of his paper. He now had four quadrants. He quickly wrote down a title in each of the four boxes: “Goals”, “Needs”, “Products”, and “Deadlines”. I noticed what he was doing and asked him, “What are you writing down?” He explained what he had written down and said it helped him stay focused during the sales conversation and helped him make sure he understood the things that were most important to him.
I was amazed! I felt like I had just received a pearl of wisdom from the ivory tower of selling. It has been over fifteen years since that time and, looking back, I can honestly say that was indeed a pearl of wisdom.
Most sales people do not follow a specific selling process or prepare their minds prior to going into a sales meeting. Instead, they jump out of their car, run in, shake hands with the prospect and “wing” the sales conversation and hope they win the business. “Shooting from the hip” when it comes to selling has never been a recipe for success.
A Recipe for Selling Success
So what then would be the recipe for selling success? There are several ingredients needed to be more successful in sales. I would like to share with you two of the most important ingredients that will help you improve your ability to create more value for your prospects and ultimately close more sales. I am also confident that using these two ingredients will help you identify areas where mistakes are being made. Once you know where the mistakes are being made, you can begin the process of fixing those mistakes. With sales knowledge comes awareness. With awareness comes sales change. With change comes sales experience. With experience comes competency and selling success.
Ingredient #1: Have a High Value Selling Process
You must have a well defined selling process or system that you follow each time you get up to bat. Having a selling system or process is one of the great secrets of top producing sales people. They do not “wing it”, or “shoot from the hip”. They have a system and a process that they follow each time, and they enjoy consistent and abundant success because of it. Ask yourself, “Why do people follow recipes when they are cooking?” Obviously so they can get the outcome they want. Having and using a selling process or system allows you to predict a selling outcome.
In my experience working with hundreds of sales people over the years, I have noticed that about 73% of sales people have a selling process that looks like this:
Step One: Set the Appointment
Step Two: Discuss the Product or Service Needs of Prospect
Step Three: Give Prospect a Demo, Proposal or Presentation
Step Four: Resolve Concern and Close the Sale
The challenge with this type of selling process is that it forces the sales person into a Low Value Selling Process. What is the result of following a low value selling process? The sales person feels like they are constantly in a price battle with prospects and competition. They get frustrated when the prospect doesn’t return their phone calls or emails. They blame the prospect when the sale stalls out or ends up going to a competitor. The problem is not the prospect. The real problem is the low value selling process that the well meaning sales person is following.
For years, I have been teaching sales people “The High Value Selling Process”™. Here are the basic steps:
Step One: Set the Appointment
Step Two: Introduction
Step Three: Buying Motivation Discovery
Step Four: Financial Consideration Discovery
Step Five: Decision Making Discovery
Step Six: Product/Service Needs Analysis & Solution Development
Step Seven: Solution Presentation & Closing the Sale
Step Eight: Confirming the Sale
Step Nine: Fulfillment Expectation Alignment
Are you thinking to yourself, “Holy Cow, Nine steps? That’s way too complicated!” If so, just understand that it is not the number of steps that is important, it is the process that you follow that is important. Your selling process is one of the main ingredients for creating value for your prospects. The more value you create, the higher the likelihood of you closing the sale. Following a high value selling process enables the sales person to create a high value experience for the prospect that always helps differentiate you from your competitors. The prospect views a high value buying experience as evidence that you will be a valuable and trusted partner going forward. Without a high value selling system or process you will decrease your chances of enjoying consistent success in selling.
Ingredient #2: Using an Sales Intake Form
What is a sales intake form? It is a basic, one page document that sales people use to remind them of the important steps in their high value selling process. It can even be a 3×5 index card. Think of the selling process as the recipe for selling success and the sales intake form as the recipe card.
Remember the story of my sales manager from years ago? Prior to jumping into a mock sales conversation, he took 30 seconds and created a simple sales intake form. He used this form to guide his questions and the direction of the sales conversation. Without the sales intake form, he was at risk of wandering and getting distracted. Prospects love to talk about themselves. That’s fine. However, if the sales conversation is left unchecked it can veer off on detours and tangents that leave you with no sale. Having a sales intake form helps you avoid spending huge amounts of time on topics that are good, but don’t ultimately help you win the sale. You can either use the sales intake forms as a note taking sheet, or it can just be something you glance at occasionally during the sales conversation to help you stay on track.
The sales intake form is also an excellence tool to help you prior to your sales meeting with the prospect. Imagine pulling into their parking lot and taking a minute in your car prior to walking in. You pull out your sales intake form and remind yourself of all nine stages of the high value selling process. Imagine reminding yourself of the kinds of questions you need to ask. Imagine reminding yourself of what skills and techniques you need to use during the conversation. Imagine taking time to build up the courage to not waffle and cave in under the pressure the prospect might put on you. Instead, imagine having the confidence to gently direct the sales conversation where you want it to go. That is one of the great “pearls of wisdom” from the ivory tower of top sales producers. They use tools, like a sales intake form, to help them stay on track during the sales conversation so they increase their likelihood of winning the business.
As a professional sales person you must know where you are making selling mistakes in your sales process. Without that you will never prosper and thrive. Over the years I have learned that there are several important ingredients needed in the recipe for successful selling. These two ingredients are, number one: having a high value selling process that you follow, and number two: using a sales intake form to help prepare you for the sales meeting, and to keep you on track during the sales conversation. Using both of these ingredients will help you learn where your mistakes are, and will help you get back on track quicker than anything I know. If you would like a FREE COPY of the sales intake form that we give to our clients, I am happy to email it to you. No tricks, no SPAM, no fees. I promise. Just send an email to Support@HansenGroupCompany.com and my team will respond with a PDF version of the intake form. I hope you get some good use out of it and that it helps you create more value for your prospects, and that you close more deals in the process. Let me know how it is going for you.
Terry Hansen is a popular speaker, consultant, trainer, and author on helping sales teams improve their ability to create value for their prospects and clients. He is regularly asked to train sales and management teams in strategies to find more prospects, close more sales, and increase customer loyalty through value creation strategies. You can connect with Terry on LinkedIn, or get more information by visiting www.TerryHansen.net or calling 844-205-5054.