The selling process is something that every salesperson needs to know inside-out. We know your final objective is to close more deals, but how do you actually get there?
To help you reach your sales goals, we’ve put together a brief guide to the basics of the selling process and how to perform well at every stage.
Stage 1 – Need Assessment
Ask open questions
The first piece of advice to remember when you’re making a sale is to ask open questions. Open questions are questions that open people up like “Could you tell me more about…”, or “What prompted you to look into this?”.
Open questions help you to establish the problems and challenges that your customers face. Asking questions like these encourages the customer to give a longer, more thoughtful response.
Instead of your prospect answering with just “Yes” or “No”, open-ended questions require them to go into more detail. Your customer’s answers will help you to establish their needs. From there, you can steer the conversation in the direction you need, getting the most useful information to move the process along collaboratively.
Remember: Be aware of “Why?” – it can sound aggressive or even rude. A better question would be “What’s the reason for…?”
Asking open questions isn’t enough to close a deal. As a salesperson, it’s important to stay in charge of the conversation in order to guide the buyer through the process. If not, the situation is less likely to end in a positive outcome.
Remember: Taking control of the sales process does not mean you should try to manipulate them! Your aim is to help the customer and meet their needs.
A lot of deals are lost, even by experienced salespeople, by letting the customer take charge of the conversation. This happens when the customer turns the tables and asks you all the questions. When this happens, answer their question with another question. That way, you can get the conversation back on track.
Salesperson: “How interested would you be in a new phone?”
Customer: “It depends on the length of the contract. How long would I have to keep it for?”
S: “Typical contracts are 18-24 months.”
C: “What happens if I want a new one after 12 months?”
S: “You would be responsible for paying the rest of the contract in full…”
Once you’ve lost control of the conversation, it can be almost impossible to turn it around.
Compare that scenario with this one, where the salesperson quickly and effectively takes back control:
S: “How interested would you be in a new phone?”
C: “It depends on the length of the contract. How long would I have to keep it for?”
S: “Well, we offer various contract lengths depending on make and model or data usage. Were you looking for a particular model?”
This scenario is far more likely to end with a positive outcome.
Stage 2 – The Presentation
Explain the benefits
Once you have clearly established and confirmed your customer’s needs, it’s time to discuss your solution.
It’s tempting to just list off the great features of your product – after all, you want to show the customer how great it is. But if you do this, you’re ignoring what the customer wants. Why should the customer care about XYZ, when those features are totally irrelevant to their needs?
Here’s an example. Let’s say an elderly customer walks into a phone shop. Her old handset is broken and she needs a replacement. The salesperson picks out two flagship handsets and dives into a speech comparing screen resolution, processor speeds and megapixels. What good are those to someone who uses their phone a couple of times per week?
There’s a fine difference between features and benefits. Benefits are product features that are tied to the solution of the customer’s problem. You should sell to the customer based on the benefits they will receive through your product.
The best way to explain the benefits of your products is to consider them from the customer’s point of view.
Remember: Always sell on benefits, not features. When you’re describing a feature, make sure you follow up by explaining what it can do for the customer and how it will benefit them.
Sometimes, even after you’ve explained exactly how your product is going to provide a solution to their needs, a customer may still have an objection in whether the solution you are offering is the best solution or the best value.
The first thing to remember when a customer raises an objection is that it might not necessarily be a real objection. Sometimes, prospects raise objections because they’re considering buying from you but haven’t got sufficient information to make a decision right now. Objections like this are a good sign – it means they’re interested.
Try to specify the reasons for their objection. Ask them to elaborate and explain why they’re concerned. Once you’ve established the grounds for their concerns, it’s easier to reassure them effectively.
Stage 3 – The Close
Look out for buying signals
If you’ve followed our sales advice so far, you should have no problems when it comes to closing the sale. That said, you should always be wary about when you start to close. Too early and the customer might hesitate, wary that they’re being pressured. Too late and you could miss the opportunity altogether.
To make sure you close at the right time, you should always look out for buying signals.
Buying signals are indications that the customer is ready to buy. They can be cues through body language, like the nod of a head, or they can be verbal statements that show an inclination to agree.
Here’s a good list of examples of buying signals to keep an eye out for next time you’re about to close a deal.
So, there you have it, your basic guide to the selling process and how to be great at every stage. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, making sure you know the basics well is fundamental to being a great salesperson.
Did these tips help you to improve your sales technique? Do you have any useful advice that you would like to share with us? Let us know in the comments below!