6 step sales process explained through 22 questions for a beginner salesperson

Sales_process_for_beginners

Everybody is in sales

As Zig Ziglar says, “In today’s sophisticated selling market, getting in front of a client with a brochure and saying, “Stop me when you see something you like,” just won’t make it. You can make an occasional sale, but you can’t make a living-and you certainly can’t build a career.”

More importantly, you’re not helping yourself nor are you helping your client or prospect.

To be a valuable sales professional you need to understand the different aspects of sales and be great at all the aspects. The various aspects can also be put together as an almost linear step-wise sales process which is as follows (adapted from Ziglar On Selling by Zig Ziglar):

  1. 6 steps in a sales process
    1. Prospecting – Finding someone willing to buy
    2. Getting Started – Overcoming call reluctance and sales anxiety
    3. Need Analysis – Identifying wants and needs
    4. Need Awareness – Validating the wants and needs
    5. Need Solution – Selling the product (which includes convincing, , making powerful presentations, persuasion and literally not taking ‘NO’ for an answer)
    6. Need Satisfaction – Closing the sales
  2. In addition, there are 3 aspects that cut across almost all the steps, which are:
    1. Handling objections
    2. Relationship management
    3. Having fun

Elaborating the 6 steps:

Step 1 – Prospecting – Finding someone willing to buy

Prospecting_Step1_of_sales_process

Always Be Prospecting

  1. What is a prospect?
    • An individual or group capable of making the decision on the product or service the salesperson is selling
    • Tip: There is a difference between a “Prospect” and a “Suspect”
      • A “suspect” is a name that could be a prospect, so the name offers hope
      • A “prospect”
        • Has a need for the product
        • Possible desire to own that product
        • Financial capacity to implement that decision
  2. Why prospect?
    • Cos prospecting is the most important key to sales success. If you don’t have a database of people to sell to then who will you sell to? You’ve lost before you’ve started
  3. How to prospect?
    • The best sales people develop a prospecting attitude and are constantly in a state of “awareness” with eyes and ears open for business
    • The best way to begin prospecting is to display a genuine interest in the other person (and concern for other people). Be a friend.
    • Under normal circumstances, with a genuine interest in people, it’s quite natural to weave what you do into the conversation by enquiring of the other person what he or she does
    • Ask friends and family (to use the product/for leads)
      • For those who are embarrassed to ask, here’s some food for thought –
        • If you think your product is good enough for all those strangers, why isn’t it good enough for your friends and your family?
        • If what you’re selling is not good enough for your friends and families then why are you selling it?
      • Find centers of influence – people who are influential in a certain community, area, market or organization
      • Ask for referrals. Some asking for referral tips –
        • “Mr. X, if your best friend were to walk here at this moment would you introduce him to me? Most likely it’ll be yes. “Then Mr. X, let me get you to do this. Why not introduce me to your best friend who has a need for our product/services by giving me his name and a little information about him”
        • If possible get an introduction via telephone/email
        • When asking for a list of referrals, 1st just take down the names and once the list is exhausted, go back to the names for specific details (instead of gathering all details at one go for each referral). Be conscious of the prospect or client’s time
        • Help jog memory
        • Ask which person should you call first and work with the client to establish a priority list
        • Report back to your referrers and let them know the results of your calls
        • Best list of prospects you can possibly get are accounts payable of your clients
  1. When to prospect?
    • All the time

Tip: “Pressure” selling (selling where you must make the sale to survive) is caused by lack of prospects

Bonus Tip: You’ve got to “Go out and make it happen”

Step 2: Getting started – Overcoming call reluctance and sales anxiety

Step2_of_sales_process

Who you gonna call?

  1. How do I overcome call reluctance or telephone terror?
    • One of the greatest causes of phone fear is failing to set an objective for the call (determine why you are making the call)
      1. Are you going to do a market survey, make an appointment, or get a sale
    • Get on a regular schedule and make an appointment with yourself to be face-to-face with a prospect at the same time every day
    • Anticipate objections (they are almost always predictable) and be prepared
    • Treat cold calls as introductory calls
    • Turn an experience into an experiment
    • Smile
    • Have some fun by figuring out just how much each call is worth to you – whether busy, unanswered or disconnected
    • Note: If your actions come across as what some perceive as stereotypically “salesy” in nature (anytime during the sales process), the prospects are turned off
  2. How do I overcome sales anxiety?
    • The good news is, if you feel no anxiety in making the sales call, your chances of success will be greatly diminished. Scientists have proved beyond doubt that when our adrenalin is flowing properly, we respond more quickly, more accurately and more enthusiastically to the situation
    • Fear of facing the public has a great deal to do with self-image. If the salesperson stands in fear or awe of the prospect, then making an effective presentation is extremely difficult
      1. The salesperson thinks “Who am I to tell this person my product, goods or services will be helpful?”
      2. Until the salesperson learns to “look up to” or “down upon” no person, fear will prevail
    • Build confidence:
      1. One of the best ways to recognize your strengths is to replay the tapes in your mind’s “DVD player” of when you were successful
      2. Learn as much as possible about your prospect. The more you know about your prospect, the more respectfully you will be treated by your prospect
    • Transfer your feeling
      1. If you transfer the feeling that you must make the sale for your benefit, the chances of making the sale are greatly negated. If you transfer the feeling that you want to make the sale for the prospect’s benefit, your chances of success are dramatically increased

Bonus tips:

  • When calling through a receptionist (preferably know her name) –
    1. Hi Kylo, this is Rey with The Force Awakens Training Systems, may I speak with Mr. Vader (without hesitation)
  • Responding to “I’m busy” or “I’m in a meeting”
    1. What is the best time for me to call back? (And make sure you call back)
    2. What is the best time to catch you when your schedule is not likely to be so busy or hectic? (Shows consideration on your part)
  • Try and gauge if truly busy or avoiding? If we know class timings can we meet after their last class or early morning? Ask
    1. How important would it be to communicate better with parents or motivate students?
      • If “very important” or “important” then ask if “important” then why do you want to delay a meeting. I’m sure we can take out 30mins
    2. Just wanted to confirm, are you interested in exploring better solutions for motivating students to practice/communicating better with parents and thereby reducing dropouts/increasing revenue?
      • If “yes” then if you were ever going to start exploring possible solutions then when do you think is the best time to start?
    3. Note: You might find it helpful to make your calls early in the day when their energy level is high and they are more gracious and willing to listen
    4. Responding to “I’m busy but go ahead and tell me what’s on your mind quickly”
      • Do not rush into the presentation because you will probably have to speed through and leave out relevant details and also you don’t want a snap decision
      • “I really think it would be better for both of us if I caught you a little later because with less than complete information, it would not be fair to you and would not be the best use of time for either of us. With that in mind when would be the best time for me to call back?”

Step 3: Need Analysis – Identifying Wants and Needs

Sales_Need_Analysis

Be a doctor

  1. What is Need Analysis?
    1. Need Analysis is to look within the customer and find the needs of the customer-to uncover existing needs. These needs may be on the surface or just below the surface, but they definitely exist.
      1. Your duty (and opportunity) as a sales professional is to develop the skills and talent within the customer and find the needs (that are already there) of the customer-to uncover existing needs
      2. As you are searching for needs, “wants” and desires will surface
  2. How do you uncover wants and needs?
    • With proper probing effort you can discover the needs of the prospect
    • Probing begins by asking questions. You must develop an attitude of curiosity and sincere interest in the answers to your questions. Let the little child out. (The questions are the answers)
    • A series of questions asked in a professional manner that shows a sincere interest in the prospect and her company would imply that the salesperson is truly interested in helping her instead of “just another salesperson out to separate her from her money”
      • It communicates “Let’s work together to discover the need (problem) before you offer a solution”
  3. What questions should I ask?
    • The right kind of questions to ask are the ones to gather information, not facts
    • Thinking vs Feeling Questions: Most of us claim to make logical decisions but the reality is, we make primarily emotional decisions.
      1. Ask: “How do you feel about a learning app that can help you communicate better with parents, motivate students to practice and manage your payments…?
        • Or ask each individually or whichever benefit is relevant
        • Or How do you feel about increasing your revenue by decreasing your drop out rates?
        • Questions in the early part of the Need Analysis segment of the sales process.
      2. When you learn how the customer feels, you are far more likely to find out what the person thinks
      3. One of the strongest emotions we feel is fear… “Fear of loss is stronger than the desire for gain”
    • Combine emotion & logic: Emotion makes the prospect take action now and logic enables them to justify the purchase later. Example –
      • Can you see where the product can help you communicate better with parents/motivate your students to practice/increase your revenue by reducing dropouts/make managing your fees hassle free
      • Are you interested in communicating better with parents/motivating your students to practice/increasing your revenue by reducing dropouts/make managing your fees hassle free
      • If you were ever going to communicate better with parents/motivate your students to practice/increase your revenue by reducing dropouts/make managing your fees hassle free, when do you think would be the best time to start?

Note: If (and that is a big “IF”) you have made your presentation in such a way that you can expect an affirmative answer to question one, then the process will work for you.

  1. What is the proper questioning process?
    • Make the interrogation conversational. The only thing more frustrating than the poor talk show host who asks questions regardless of the answer to the previous question is the non-professional salesperson who does the same thing.
    • There are 3 basic types of questions that allows you to discover the needs and wants of your clients and potential customers. All questions, emotional or logical, fall into one of these 3 categories and should be asked at the right time
      • Open-Door Questions – The purpose of open door questions is to allow the prospects the freedom to take the answer where they want to go (Note: please avoid offering answers to the question you asked)
        • What do you think about…
        • How do you feel about…
      • Closed-Door Questions – designed to keep the prospect’s answers in a certain area for clarification and embellishments
        • Would you tell me more about…
        • How long did you teach before you entered the business world
        • How does your division compare in size to other divisions in this company
      • Yes or No question – You should use this question only when you already know the answer. The danger of this kind of a question is that if it is overused, it may be perceived as patronizing
        1. Do you agree that this would save you money?
        2. Is this app something you might benefit from?
    • The P.O.G.O. formula will allow you to get involved in a conversational interview process that will be comfortable for both you and the prospect
      • P = Person (Get to know the people involved in the sales process)
        1. The parameter for you as the salesperson who is interested in gaining trust and finding out wants and needs is to give (and get) information regarding the people involved in the sales process
        2. Anything that expresses sincere interest in the prospect will be valuable to you
          • Since when have you been teaching?
          • How did you get into teaching?
          • What’s your main focus, teaching or performing?
          • What do you like most about teaching?
          • What do you like least about teaching?
          • What’s the most challenging aspect of teaching?
          • Who are your idols?
          • What do you do in your free time?
      • O = Organization (get to know the organization)
        1. Similar to finding out about the people/person
          • What are your plans for your organization?
          • What’s the toughest part of running an organization?
      • G = Goals (Gather information about personal and professional goals)
        • What are your personal/organizational goals?
        • What do you plan to accomplish in the next 6 months?
        • What goal is most important to you next year?
        • Why would achieving that goal be important to you or what would achieving that goal mean to you?
        • Did you achieve last year’s goals?
        • Tip: Making more money is never a goal. The real goal revolves around what can be done with the money (Ask : Why would that be important to you?)
      • O = Obstacles for reaching the prospect’s goals
        • As a startup/entrepreneur I know that we face our share of obstacles. Would you be willing to share some of the problems you/your organization faces?
        • What are/were your obstacles to achieving the goals?
    • Recognizing and selling to different personality styles
      1. Bold personality – Selling secrets for the bold prospect
        • Be direct
        • Be concise-get to the point
        • Answer ‘what’ not ‘how’
        • Be conscious of the bottom line
      2. Friendly personality – Selling secrets for the friendly prospect
        • Spare the details
        • Socialize
        • Follow up
        • Show ‘new’ products
      3. Sincere personality – Selling secrets for the sincere prospect
        • Earn trust
        • Go slow and easy
        • Answer all questions
        • Reassure
      4. Competent personality – Selling secrets for the competent prospect
        • Show proof and share testimonials
        • Be prepared and structured in your presentation
        • Answer “how”
        • Address any disadvantages early in the presentation

Tip: Practice!

Step 4: Need Awareness- Validating The Wants And Needs

Sales_Need_Awareness_Probe

Be a detective… probe deeper

  1. What is Need Awareness?
    • Need Awareness is uncovering the true need and making the prospect understand and aware that there is a need and the specifics of the need. Even when you are sure you have discovered the client’s/prospect’s need, you must continue to probe for 2 basic reasons –
      1. To be sure you have a true need and not a symptom of a need
      2. To be sure that the prospect understands that there really is a need
  2. Why is this ‘Need Awareness’ step necessary?
    • Fact: 90% of people who have problems (including everything from alcoholism to not enough sales) deny those problems. However, when a skilled sales professional probes with the right questions, the same person who was denying the problem is “permitted” to discover the problem. Since he has discovered it, he will be far more opening in discovering your solutions-your goods or services (which he has also discovered)
    • Many times the prospect herself hasn’t thought deeply her true needs are and hence the objections she raises to buying from you may not be the true Example –
      • Parents don’t prefer online payments
        1. Ask if the teacher has told the parent of the benefits of using the app?
        2. Can we talk to the parents (assumption – the teacher wants to use the app so we can help remove this bottle neck)
    • If you have not identified the proper need and made the need perfectly clear to the prospect, either the sale will not be made, or will not stick
      • Unless the prospect sees, understands and believes there is a problem, there is no problem
  3. How do I get started in Need Awareness?
    • You get started in the same way you began ‘Need Analysis’, by asking questions and probing deeper.
    • This at times is difficult because to probe deeper you need to have built a rapport and relationship of trust with your prospect. Not to mention, to ask questions that cause both you and the prospect to understand the needs and wants, you are required to think!
  4. How do I make the prospect see, understand and believe there is a problem?
    • Create an imbalance in the minds of prospects. We rarely take action until we are out of balance. Your job as a sales person is to discover where there is an imbalance and point it out in a convincing manner
    • To create an imbalance you might have to ask some tough questions. Earn the right to ask them by getting to know your prospect better, building a relationship whereby you care for your prospect
    • You can do so by asking closed-door questions like –
      1. How important would reducing dropouts and increasing revenue for you be (or motivating your student to practice or communicating with parents be to you?)
      2. What do you mean by “not with old students” or “why not with old students, don’t you see the benefit in motivating them to practice or ensuring they don’t dropout?
    • To help the prospect become aware of specific needs, 5 areas of knowledge will benefit you –
      1. Product knowledge – You can never know too much about your product. The more we know about our product, the more we believe in our product
      2. Industry knowledge – The more you understand about your industry in general, the more you are able to understand the all-important “why”
      3. Pricing knowledge – When you understand pricing, you understand how you are helping yourself, your organization and your prospect. Price involves a great deal more than money
      4. Application knowledge – How to use the product
      5. Competition knowledge – Everything about your competitor

Step 5: Need Solution – Selling the product

(which includes convincing, making powerful presentations, persuasion and literally not taking ‘NO’ for an answer)

Sales_Selling

Going past Nooooo

  1. What is the ‘Need Solution’ Phase?
    • This is the phase where you present your product. Now is the time to stop asking questions and begin presenting solutions to needs, convincing your prospect or client and not taking ‘NO’ for an answer easily or at face value
  2. How do I present my solution?
    • Always lead with need. Never lead with the product
      1. None of us buy what the product is; we buy what the product does for us (the benefits)
      2. We want to know ‘What’s In It For Me’
      3. Personalize the benefits for your prospect. Paint the picture so that your prospect sees personal benefits
    • What you sell should match what your customers buy
      • For teachers:
      • For Students:
        1. We Sell: A learning buddy (learning app) to motivate you and make learning any skill easy and fun
        2. Student’s Buy: A learning app/buddy, to help them to stay motivated through learning a skill and make learning easy and fun for them
        3. For Parents:
          1. We Sell: A learning app for their child to help them be involved in their child’s progress and keep them excited
          2. Parents Buy: A learning app to be involved in their child’s progress and keep their child excited
      • There will be times when you will need to reference features and functions
        1. Features (what your product/service is)
          • Visual progress screen
        2. Functions (what your product/service does)
          • It communicates the student’s progress with regards class and practice sessions and skills earned
      • Benefits (how it helps the prospect/client – wiifm)
        1. It motivates the student by making him/her aware how much he/she has accomplished and thereby increases the likelihood of the student re-enrolling for the class. It also helps the parents to be aware of the progress
  1. How do I handle objections?
    • Objections are a salesperson’s best friend. Asking questions or raising an objection indicates interest or feeling
    • When you truly believe what you have to offer is for the benefit of your prospects, you will take a certain number of calculated risks to persuade your prospects to take action in their own best interests. You will do it politely, pleasantly and professionally, but you will do it.
    • Ask for all possible objections together and then address them.
      1. Example – Is parents not paying online the only reason you are not able to use the app? But to confirm, you are interested in using the app and you see the benefit of communicating with parents or motivating students to practice, right? And you would use it if the parents paid online?
    • Before addressing each validate if they “see” the benefit and would use the app if this objection was solved

Step 6: Need Satisfaction (Closing the Order)

Sales_Closing

Sold is Gold

  1. What is ‘Need Satisfaction’?
    • If you truly believe you have a desire to help other people; if you truly believe in your product or service; if you truly want the prospects to benefit; if you truly want to benefit from your hard work and effort; then you must remember –
      1. A.A.F.T.O. – Always Ask For The Order
    • Tip: Sales people miss 100% of the orders not asked for
  2. How do I develop the courage to ‘ask for the order’?
    • If you know you are doing the right thing for the prospect, you’ll have no reservations about asking for the order.
    • A fact to boost your courage: Research shows that 60% of all sales are made after the fifth closing attempt.
      1. For those of you who are reluctant to ask for the order more than once or twice for fear of coming across as “high pressure” sales people, you will do well to know that your prospect will look at your offer in a different light the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and even the 5th time.
      2. Asking for the order 5 times or more can be extremely difficult if you –
        • Don’t have deep belief in the value of your product or service.
        • Haven’t done the proper job in the 1st 3 steps (Need Analysis, Need Awareness, Need Solution).
      3. With each closing attempt offer added information. This enables you to allow the prospect to make a “new” decision based on additional information.
      4. Many times we don’t ask the question cos we don’t want to hear the “no”. Be aware of this situation and take corrective action.
    • Just do it – Just ask for the order (Would you like to order one/buy one?)
  3. How do I frame the ‘Asking For The Order’ question?
    • The 3 questions close: The 3 questions successful sales professionals utilize in asking for the order (adapt in your own words)
      1. Can you see where this would____ ? (insert your primary benefit – save you money, increase time, etc)
      2. Are you interested in___?
      3. If you were ever going to start____, when do you think would be the best time to start?
    • The probability close: Follow up question to the above if relevant or ask independently (This close is best used when you are very close to getting the order but feel there is some resistance you need get into the open) –
      1. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 meaning you are ready to place your order, where would you stand right now?
        • Wait patiently with a response, and when it comes, follow with this question: “If you are at ____ (the number given) right now, what would it take to move you to a 10?”
        • If you are consistently getting < 7, the 1st parts of your selling process are the problem.
    • The summary close: Summarize all the reasons the prospect has given you for buying and ask for the order
    • Tip on Closing: Nail down the sale by asking the prospect why he decided to make the purchase. This strengthens the relationship, allows you to finish the relationship on a really high note and the sale will be even more securely “nailed down”
      1. Script: It will be a big help to me and a personal favour if you would tell me one more time the key benefit of the product you are looking forward to using or what benefit of the product made you buy it or what are you looking forward to the most from this product?
      2. Ask for a referral
  4. How do I handle objections to closing?
    • Change “No” to “Know” Once your prospects say no, they are not going to change their mind and buy from you. When they say “no” you must understand that the “no” must mean the prospect doesn’t “know” enough to make the right decision. Never argue with them. Just understand that you haven’t finished your job and accept the responsibility for going back and providing the information needed. With additional information they will “know” enough to make a new (and favourable) decision
    • Ask questions to understand and identify the objection.
    • Once you understand and identify the objection, empathize with the prospect.
    • Then test if the objection is a real objection (some prospects will not know the true objection – The prospect who is embarrassed to admit that he doesn’t have the money or doesn’t understand the offer may not admit the true objection. He feels poor or uneducated and his pride or ego demands that he say he is not interested).
    • 2 kinds of test will help you identify between superficial objections and true objections. These tests also help the prospect who really doesn’t know what the objection is but knows she can’t get comfortable with the decision to buy (Some prospects will not tell you the true objection and some prospects will not know the true objection)
      1. The “Suppose” Test: Just suppose that condition didn’t exist. Would you then buy my product or service?
      2. Isolate and Validate test: This 2 step process proves whether or not you have discovered the true objection
        1. Step 1: Ask “Is there any other reason why you would not want to take advantage of my offer/product today?”
        2. Step 2: Once you get the “No, this is the only thing” response, you will summarize to validate “So you’re telling me that if ____ and ___ were not issues, you would buy today?” At this point you are prepared to close the sale.
    • Tip: Put yourself in the prospect’s shoes and do a pros/cons analysis
    • Bonus Scripts for Objections
      • “Let me think it over”
        1. In running my business I have often found myself on the opposite side of the table from a salesman and have made the very same statement. Over a period of time I came to realize that whenever I asked for time to “think it over” I was really saying one of the 2 things –
          1. In the 1st place I might really want to think it over because I had some questions that had not been answered or had some unaddressed concerns. If this is what you are saying then I would love to be given a chance to answer those questions or address those concerns just so I know I’ve put my best foot forward
          2. And the 2nd scenario maybe that “I’m not interested in anyway but I just don’t want to hurt the salesperson’s feelings though I had no intentions of considering the proposal any further. I can totally respect your decision and would only ask that if this is the case, please tell me now and save us both time” I’ll also know not to bother you by keeping on following up.

Lastly, don’t forget to have some fun. Selling can and should be fun. If you’re not having funyou’ll feel like a nymphomaniac playing the part of a nun.

An anecdote:

Sales_Bible_Anecdote

Have fun… don’t be a nun

When the prospect reacted to the door-to-door Bible salesman’s request to buy with “I’m broke”, the salesman had a pretty fair response.

 

 

Extending the Bible, he responded, “Would you put you right hand here and repeat that?”

 

Combine these sales tips with 6 weapons of influence and you’ll soon be holding the coveted ‘Salesperson of the year” trophy.

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