Selling may appear to be a simple process. However, it is actually complex. Basic selling principles make the sales process effective and rewarding for both the buyer and the seller. Successful salespeople develop and learn these techniques until they become second nature. The sales process is divided into six areas: initial meeting/warm-up, interviewing/qualifying, presenting/demonstrating, obtaining a firm commitment, securing the order and follow-up. Each of these steps is important, and if any of them are missing in the sales process, it can be impossible to make the sale.
But little training time is spent on qualifying, which determines why the prospect should buy. The most qualified person to answer this question is your prospect, but it’s seldom easy to get that answer. People are not likely to give away their hot buttons; you must qualify the sales potential of each prospect.
Ask probing questions
Create a list of probing questions, which help determine the level of interest in your product or service. Ask prospects about their work and the potential benefits of your relationship with them. Diagnose basic needs, and explore options to meet those needs. Check out the budget, scheduling and time issues. Probe the amount of urgency. Ask where prospects get their information. Ask who makes spending and budget decisions. (Make sure you are talking to the right person; if not, find the true decision-maker.) Probe for perceived wants, needs, and desires. Inquire about the past, present and future of prospects. Find out what prospects do, and find a way to help them do it better.
Keep in mind that if a prospect answers "no" to any of your questions, it could begin a downward spiral that may end the interview. So ask questions that requires a response instead of a yes or no answer. Stay in question mode, even if a prospect attempts to get you talking. Do not waste valuable time on people who will not buy.
Find ways to add value
People are interested in the value you and your products or services bring to their work and lives. They buy based on the benefits they receive from what you are selling. The buyer, not the seller, defines these benefits. Prospects will determine how well your products or services meet their personal needs, usually on an emotional level. Therefore, what you are really selling is how customers feel after they buy your product or service.
Listen more than you talk
If you speak more than you listen, then find a career other than sales. In qualifying, 95 percent or more of your time should be spent listening. Control your emotions, and focus on what prospects say. Keep them talking, and listen behind the words. Empathetic listening is key. Take notes and repeat back what you think you heard.
People love to talk about themselves and their plans. They also love an attentive audience. This builds trust - a key to both successful selling and rewarding relationships. So let people talk about them selves, and fight back the urge to jump in and talk about yourself. This will build strong relationships, lead to mutual benefit and add value to your offering. The reciprocation is that you give of yourself in order to get back the sale. For example, when you give trust, you receive trust in return. People will give you the sale if you give them time.
Get inside the prospect’s head
Get into the mind and thoughts of your prospect. Focus on his or her needs. Be the person whom prospects want to hear from and to help solve their problems. If you do not understand where the prospect is coming from, then ask. Stay focused on what is going on in the mind of your prospect. Selling is both an art and science. It is creative and analytical. Probe and explore like a scientist, and listen and create solutions like the artist. This will lead to successful relationships with prospects and customers - relationships that result in sales.
Steve Johns is a professional speaker and trainer for the remodeling industry.