Seven Steps to Successful Sales

by John Mehrmann

Being a successful salesperson does not happen by accident or blind luck. Success is the result of diligent effort applied to a structured system with commitment and passion. These seven steps will help you develop a system in a matter of minutes.

Being a successful salesperson does not happen by accident or blind luck. Success is the result of diligent effort applied to a structured system with commitment and passion. These seven steps are designed to help develop a system in a matter of minutes. Building on success to achieve your dreams is determined by how passionately committed you are to achieving the dreams of your customers. The first step is as easy as listening to them.

1. Introduce Yourself, Then Shut-Up and Listen

The sales experience is not about the sales associate, it is about the customer. It is a courtship ritual to determine if the customer values the goods or services enough to invest in them by making a purchase. There is only one way to find out what the customer values, wants or needs and that is to listen intensely. If you are thinking about the next thing that you are going to promote then you can not concentrate on what the customer is telling you. Rather, think about how you can repeat what the customer is saying in your own words and you will be forced to listen intently to what they tell you.

A successful sales professional can reflect the emotion as well as the content of a customer conversation.

2. Why the Offer is Important to the Individual Customer

As new sales representatives learn about the company, products or services that they represent it is a natural inclination to initiate conversations by spewing facts and features like a walking commercial. Don't assume that the customer cares how you do something, how long you have done it or what you have been told makes you unique. The customer has a life with priorities, deadlines and responsibilities of his or her own. Show the customer what aspects of your offer are important from the customer perspective and resist the urge to talk about any other things that are not relevant. Of course, you will only know this if you have listened to your customer.



A successful sales professional focuses only on the specific attributes of the offer that are relevant to the customer.

3. Get Confirmation, Then Explain the Details

Get buy-in from the customer that you are on the right track. Ask the customer for feedback to confirm that the focus is on the appropriate facts, features or figures. Once you have provided feedback on your value as it pertains to the initial customer requirement, it is common for some customers to change the focus. This is an opportunity to find out if the customer has additional concerns or considerations. Listen with intensity and restate customer focus and topics in short sentences, reiterating each item that is important to the customer. Then explain the details of your offer that support all of these interests.

A successful sales professional keeps the customer involved during the process of explaining relevant details of the specific offer.

4. Credibility, Show the Customer Why You can be Trusted

If the offer is on target with the customer requirements then it is appropriate to demonstrate reasons that the customer should trust you. This may be accomplished by using specifications for products, white papers and case studies for services, independent articles or references. The manner of demonstrating credibility varies significantly by industry and market. If there are no documents or history to use as reference, it is possible to demonstrate credibility by making promises and keeping them. A promise may be as simple as a commitment to follow-up with additional information by a specific time. Even if the customer was a referral and credibility was implied, never take it for granted.

A successful sales professional earns the trust of every single customer through commitments and actions.

5. What to Do and What It will Cost

In addition to providing the price, also provide the details of what needs to be done to complete the transaction and what will happen after the sale. If the customer needs to take some action before, during or after the purchase then be sure to explain this in detail. In some cases there may be a registration, license or contract associated with the sale, so be sure to remove any mystery or doubt by stating the facts. Make sure that the customer is aware of any additional requirements or renewals. As an example, it would be incredibly disappointing for a customer to excitedly unpack a new printer and then discover that is it necessary to go back to the store for cables to connect it to a computer. Keep the customer satisfied and confident by providing step-by-step explanations and expectations.

A successful sales professional knows the process and educates the customer.

6. Schedule Next Steps

In many cases there may be several steps in the sales cycle. If ongoing negotiation is necessary then schedule the next meetings and milestones. If registration or installation is necessary after the sale then initiate discussions to accommodate the customer schedule. For significant purchases and investments it may be necessary for the customer to review budget or finances, in which case it is appropriate to schedule periodic follow-up to accommodate these considerations.

A successful sales professional fills the pipeline by keeping a consistent schedule for continuous customer conversations.

7. Ask for the Sale

Don't assume that the customer is going to ask for the sale. Ask for the sale to determine if it is time to stop selling and time to start processing the purchase and assisting with the appropriate next steps to support the customer. Some sales associates are so passionate about the product that they keep promoting it long after the customer has made a decision to purchase and can actually lose a customer in the process. Stop pouring when the glass is full.

A successful sales professional will periodically pause to ask for the sale.

Seven Step to Successful Sales

  1. Introduce Yourself, Then Shut-Up and Listen
  2. Why the Offer is Important to the Individual Customer
  3. Get Confirmation, Then Explain the Details
  4. Credibility, Show the Customer Why You can be Trusted
  5. What to Do and What It will Cost
  6. Schedule Next Steps
  7. Ask for the Sale

Cut out the Seven Steps for Successful Sales and keep it handy to prepare and reflect before each customer conversation.

Make some notes for personal reference that pertain to your specific product or service for each of the seven steps. Put it in your own words. Know your process and listen intensely to your customers. Know where your customers are within the seven step process. Take care of your customers and continue your conversations after every sale to repeat the cycle and nurture your pipeline.

Words of Wisdom

"The essence of selling is understanding your customer's needs and convincing him that you're the best one to meet them."
- Fred Blalek, co-founder, National Semiconductor Corp

"In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative original thinker unless you can also sell what you create. Management cannot be expected to recognize a good idea unless it is presented to them by a good salesman."
- David M Ogilvy

"Companies are no longer setting the agenda for what customers want. They're finding out where the agenda is being set and enhancing it. The customers decide what's important. Your job is to listen and respond."
- Avram Miler, Technology Consultant

John Mehrmann is a freelance author, industry expert and President of Executive Blueprints Inc., an organization devoted to improving business practices and developing human capital.

 
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