The purpose of this “How to Sell” guide is to help you improve your current selling approach and grow your sales faster than your competitors. Think about what will happen if you grow your sales faster than your competitors? While the number of sources offering sales tips and selling techniques is huge today, most of these sales tools or sales approaches are very limited in scope. Yes, many of them might be useful and effective sales tools and they will probably help you improve one area of your sales process, but there are not many sales approaches covering the entire selling process where you can benefit most from your time and effort. Only by improving your entire sales process you can achieve above average results.
There are a few important issues that you need to understand and they are simple but very often they are ignored by managers and sales people. First of all, selling is a process which means there are steps that you need to accomplish in order to generate sales or grow your sales. Let’s take a look at the following very simple selling process.
How to Sell: Simple Selling Process
This is a very general sales process but for the sake of this document it is very useful because it can be used and applied by any business and for any market. The first step is Lead Generation. This includes your marketing, promotion, advertising, word of mouth promotion, public relations, branding, cold calling, etc. – all of your activities with the goal of generating leads. During this first step you inform people and companies (your prospects) that you exist, who you are and you give them general idea and information about your business or what you sell. All you are saying at this step is something like: Hi, we are _____________ and we sell ___________. Of course you also communicate your major selling points like the features and benefits of your product and service. That’s it. This is the first step. Are your prospects going to buy based only on this information about your business and products or services? Probably not.
Related: Sales Management
The second step in your selling process is Qualifying. At this step you are talking to your prospects and you learn more about each other. You assess whether this prospect is your potential customer and if yes, what is the best product or service you can offer. At the same time the prospect is learning more about your business (the prospect buying process is explained later in more details). The overall goal of this step is to make your prospects ready to buy by offering the right product and creating value for their money. If this step is successful you will sell – the final step – Closing.
In most cases and for most businesses, this step is the beginning of your relationship with your customer. Note: For the scope of this document we use very simple selling process example. However the final step also includes the after sale stage of offering additional services, cross selling and up selling – generating more sales from your current customers. This simple selling process gives an overview of the general selling process used by any company. However what will happen and how successful you are going to be if you use exactly the same selling process as your competitors? In such a case you can differentiate and generate more sales than your competitors if you have a better product or better service but the major breakthrough and above average sales results come from innovative selling and using the most effective selling process for your business. This leads to the next discussion which is the key for how to improve your selling and how to sell more.
How to Sell: Simple Buying Process
Now let’s take a different perspective and think about the other side – your prospects and customers. While you go through the steps of your selling process at the same time your prospect or customer goes through the buying process. The buying process example shows a very simple overview of the buying process. Why is the buying process important? Without understanding your prospects and customers and understand how they buy it is very hard if not impossible to develop an effective selling process. Let’s analyze the buying process now.
The first step or activity in the buying process is Discovery. Your prospects and customers have needs, problems, wants, desires, preferences, etc. and they are looking for solutions, products, services, help, advice, etc. Generally your prospects learn more about different solutions and alternatives (potential products and services that satisfy their needs and wants). At this step they discover the available alternatives and in most cases they will pick the top 3-5 alternatives (the number of potential alternatives or solutions will vary depending on the business) that can satisfy their needs.
The second step is Evaluation. Prospects and customers evaluate the top 3-5 alternatives they consider as possible solutions (identified during the discovery step). During this step your prospects evaluate the product/service features and benefits and compare them with the cost/price they need to pay. Generally the evaluation step identifies the product or service that offers the best value for the money.
The final process is the Purchase step. Your customers or prospects discovered potential alternatives, evaluated the alternatives and made the purchase decision.
How to Sell: Putting It All Together
The key to selling better than your competitors is developing a winning selling process for your business. How do you develop such a process?
Here is a proven approach which is a very simple sales and marketing methodology to help you develop your winning selling approach:
Analyze your prospects’ buying process
Identify critical decision points for your prospects
Define how you currently manage the points identified in step 2
Define how your competitors manage the points identified in step 2
Identify how you can help your prospects at each stage in their buying process
Define your most effective selling process that manages the buying process
Important: Remember that the purpose of your selling process is to better manage the buying process for your prospects and customers. If you succeed to do this better than your competitors you will win and grow your sales faster than your competition. The single most effective tip on how to sell is “Manage the Buying Process Better.”