Being a business owner requires many different skills but one of the most important is the ability to sell. However, the majority of people that are in business do not consider themselves to be ‘natural’ salespeople. Even those that come from a sales background would not consider themselves great sales people and even those that do, will eventually have to build a sales team of people who may not be as good as they are.
For those of us who want to become better at sales, or teach our team to do so, there is one tool that can not only help us become more confident with selling but allow us to replicate what we do. So as we grow we have more and more people getting the same great results as we have. That tool is creating a successful sales process.
We have just seen an exciting US Masters Golf Tournament. Although these golfers obviously have a lot of talent, they also have a process that they follow to ensure they are successful and they practice over and over to ensure they can perform consistently well. You wouldn’t expect Phil Mickelson to be able to come out and perform at his peak if he hadn’t swung a club for months. As Arnold Palmer once said “the more I practice the luckier I get”. So do professional golfers practice a different thing every time they go out? Of course not; they find what works for them and refine it until it is in their subconscious and seems effortless. Sometimes we forget about the time, effort and dedication professional sports people put in to become as good as they are.
Well, the same is true for master salesman. Yes, there is an element of skill to becoming a great salesman, but like all skills they can be learnt, it just means that some people learn faster than others, but if you have the determination and discipline, these will more than compensate for any lack of skill. Becoming master salesman can be broken down into four simple stages:
The first stage is to understand what selling is all about. Many people have the belief that sales is a bad thing because they hate being sold to and have probably had a bad experience of a bad salesperson in the past. Jeffery Gittomer says “People like to buy but they do not like to be sold too”, so if you change your sales belief to one of “professionally helping people to buy” then suddenly sales can take on a whole new meaning.
The second stage is to improve your skill at sales, and like all skills there are two ways to do this and the best way is to use both. Education, via reading; courses; DVD’s and CD’s and real life practice. “Just Do It” as NIKE says.
The third stage is to build your sales process and the best framework I have found for my clients was devised by one of the best sales trainers in the world, Tom Hopkins, and comes from his book “How to Master the Art of Selling”.
The sales process involves 4 steps, Build Trust, Find the Need, Show How You can Help and Hurry to a Close ,and has to be carried out in that order.
If you have not built Trust with your prospect then you will never sell to them, and this is the feeling you get when you are being sold to. How to build trust is a topic I will be covering in a future article.
Need has to come before Help , because if we do not truly understand what the prospects needs and wants are then how can we be sure what we are offering to help with is actually the right thing. The only way to really know the need is to ask questions and listen. Have you ever met a sales person who rabbits on how wonderful their product is before they have asked you a single question?
The penultimate step is to successfully educate and communicate how your product/service can help them meet their need. It might be fantastic but if they do not understand then they will not buy.
Only when you have completed all three of the previous steps can you attempt to close the sale, but close it you must. If you work hard on steps 1-3, helping them buy will be easy and natural, but if you forget then all that work is wasted, you rarely get a second chance.
The fourth stage to becoming a master is constant and never ending improvement or Kaizen as the Japanese call it. In your sales process, your main feedback source will be your Key Performance Indicators, such as conversion rate, number of transactions, average per sale. So you need to constantly analyze these figures and then set new goals and plans to improve them. Sometimes you will need help to see what is going right and what is wrong and this is why more and more business people are following the lead of sports stars and getting themselves a coach who can provide independent and professional feedback. As the old saying goes “you cannot see your own bald spot”.
So if you want to build a great business you have to build a great sales process, the question is when are you going to take action and become a Sales Master!