Sales: Getting the Basics Right

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Selling and sales is, and should be, a logical process.

If done right, you’ll probably get the sale, and if not, you likely haven’t followed the logical steps, asked the right questions, or listened to the answers.

And by missing the mark on your sales techniques, this often results in you not meeting the buyers requirements by trying to sell the wrong product or solution for their needs.

Planning and preparation are fundamental basic steps within the selling process, however, they are steps often neglected.

You will never know everything there is to know about your customers. They change, their needs change, markets change; so never assume you have all the answers. Your customers will adapt, and you need to adapt with them.

Plan and prepare for your meetings. Review industry news, their company website, their customer record to get an up-to-date and accurate perspective. Then, plan the meeting, detail your objectives, and jot down a list of questions you want to ask to better understand their needs.

Now, let’s take a closer look at how you and your sales team can get the basics right, whether you’re new to the role or a seasoned professional.

How prospects buy

  • Step one: Prospects need to feel like they’re dealing with a real person
  • Step two: They’re testing to see what kind of value you have to offer
  • Step three: They’re looking for fit. Do they think that you’re the right person to help them?
  • Step four: This is about trust. Do they trust you to help them solve their problem?

How to do the basics well

Question everything

Ask questions first, present later, as first and foremost, you must understand a prospective client's needs, wants, expectations, and feelings so that your presentation hits all the right buttons.

By asking questions first, you won’t feel the need to share all the things your company has going on, which may in turn help build your prospect’s trust by showing them that their needs come before your desire to sell.

Open up the conversation with high yield questions, but then let the customer do the majority of the talking.

Have some stock questions that you are able to combine with observational validation questions, and this should get you the results you want.

An example could be: “Some of our other clients in the construction sector are reporting that although business has picked up since, the cash flow down the supply chain is still very delayed. Are you seeing that? And if so, how is it affecting your business?”

Listen intently

Many sales people have ‘the gift of the gab’, but in reality, selling should be at least 70% listening and 30% talking.

To ensure you peak clients interest, you need to show them that your product meets their needs - but you won’t do that if you don’t stop talking.

Ask lots of open-ended questions about their business and needs, as this will not only build buyer trust as you’re showing an interest rather than just the sale, but it will help you understand customer requirements and how you can best meet them with one of your services or products.

Create your lead gen machine

You must have a lead generation process in place, because if you don’t have a way to consistently generate leads, you’re never going to make it in sales.

Make sure you have enough appointments in your calendar to hit sales goals, and if you don’t already, get that in place now!

Without a lead gen machine, you won’t increase your close rate enough to hit your sales goals.

Understand the prospect’s pain points

Your prospects have one interest - solving their problems.

Talking about your product will only get you so far; prospects want to know how your product could directly benefit them.

Use each interaction with a prospective client to ask questions and identify their biggest pain points. Why not try asking: 

  • Could you help me understand your business process a little better?
  • What are your everyday goals? Long-term goals?
  • What are the biggest concerns and hurdles you face?
  • What are your expectations for the solution?
  • Do you have any budget constraints?
  • If you solved a particular problem, how much better would things be for you? How so?

You need to actively listen to the prospect’s answers. Too often salespeople are fixated on pushing and selling that they forget that sometimes the best thing they can do is listen.

This way you can learn a lot about not only your prospect, but also your own product and how to better sell it.

So, to ensure you peak a prospect’s interest, you need to offer a solution focused on the buyer’s pain points. Your sales pitch will work best when you show a prospective customer that you understand their obstacles and that your product will solve those problems for them.

Uncover needs – don’t presume them

A doctor worth their salt wouldn’t prescribe treatment before thoroughly examining a patient. Similarly in sales, you should let your prospects tell you what they need instead of assuming that you already know.

Prospects know themselves and their business best, so give them a chance to share that knowledge to benefit you both.

Uncover the budget

When you and your prospects know how much they can spend, together you can consider a buying decision more seriously.

But assure prospects that you’ll do your best for them regardless of the size of their budget, and when you’ve proven your reliability with a small order, your customers may reward you with more and bigger ones. If your prospect seems uncomfortable discussing money, ask for a ballpark figure, and work from there.

Use empathy to connect

If a customer doesn’t trust you, then it’s likely they won’t buy your product.

It’s important that you not only speak with potential customers, but try to connect with them in a meaningful and human way. Because no one wants to feel as though you’re solely after their money after all.

Empathy is one of the key traits that separates a great salesperson from a good salesperson.

And sales empathy involves actually getting to know your customers and catering your message to the person’s unique problems they face. Show that you want to help, and how working together will make it happen.

When interacting with potential customers, forget that any money is involved — instead, you are two friends, one of which has a problem they need solving, and one which has a solution.

Never stop prospecting

Resting on your laurels isn’t a thing in sales - not if you want to catch the big deals that is.

Complacency isn’t rewarded in this line of business. If you want to reap the rewards, you need to always have new business on the horizon. And the only way to do this is by prospecting regularly.

Be on the lookout for new business opportunities, whether through customer referrals or your own research. By identifying and understanding who your customers are, you will find those in need of your product and connect with them more effectively.

Prospecting technology and tools like the LinkedIn Sales Navigator will help you discover the customers that need you. However, cold calling and emails are still used to connect with prospects, as this shows you are willing to put in the hard work and get the deal done.

And always think about who you are reaching out to. It’s often wiser to aim higher in any organisation, as the decision-makers are the ones who are able to buy if they’re convinced your product can help them in some way. By aiming too low, the process can pass through too many hands and stall the deal indefinitely.

Your pipeline should never be empty. Spend time each day reaching out to potential leads, and make sure that you’re never stuck without any fresh prospects for business.

You can use sales tools and apps like SPOTIO Lead Management; Hubspot CRM;

Salesforce Sales Cloud so you can always find your best opportunities and prospects.

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