This may sound simple, but when it all boils down to the basics, business is simple – it’s about selling a product or service for more than it costs you.
Selling anything can be broken down to a three-step process:
1. Finding a hungry crowd
2. Persuading them to buy
3. Persuading them to buy again
So where does all this persuasion come from? It comes from your marketing message and from those charged with making the sale.
This is where it goes wrong!
The big mistake made by Companies, from the smallest one-man band to the largest Corporate, is that they don’t persuade, they tell. Ads and websites tell how good their owners are. Salespeople tell me all of the technical features of their products. Neither give me reasons why I should buy or, if they do, they use 70’s style manipulative, shady closes that should have been left in the books and cassettes where they belonged.
I’ve lost count of the number of times in recent weeks someone has used a tie-down close on me. Give me a break! I stopped using tie-downs in 1975; they didn’t work then and they don’t now.
And what about having salespeople cold-call for heavens’ sake. Who still requires their salespeople to cold-call?
Your salespeople are the most vulnerable people in your business. Why have them waste your money sitting on a phone cold-calling? Generate them leads and get them talking to people who have an interest in what you offer.
Without a doubt, the weakest link in business today is the lack of training provided to salespeople.
You would never employ an unqualified accountant, engineer, or lawyer. You would not hire an IT manager without checking their qualifications. You wouldn’t hire a PA who couldn’t use Word. Yet 87% of companies that hire salespeople have no formalised induction of training process for them. Nope; just give them a couple of brochures, the keys to a new car and let them loose.
What are they actually saying to your prospects and customers? How do you really know of the likelihood of the sale actually being made – how accurate is their reporting?
If you’re like most people, you rely on the time-honoured mantra “Selling is a numbers game” and use an arbitrary percentage allocation of likelihood as the process develops. If this is how you do it, I have news for you: It doesn’t work.
Here’s the problem – and the solution…
Your prospect is at the stage where initial investigation has been completed, a product demo has taken place, a detailed proposal has been presented and is going to the Board tomorrow. It’s a big sale; maybe 70% of your monthly budget and you’ve been told it’s a goer. Your projections are based at a 95% chance of it proceeding which, when their Board says “No”, suddenly leaves a dirty big hole in your projections.
What process do you have to identify why the sale wasn’t made? Was it anyone’s fault? Does someone get fired?
The marketing process works like this:
An advert has one job; generate a response. The salesperson’s job is to identify their interest and convert that interest into revenue if indeed it is possible.
Marketing isn’t only about awareness. That’s a fallacy. Here’s why: What brand of petrol did you last fill your car with, and why?
Was it because Ferrari use it; because your engine runs smoother and quieter with it, that it was environmentally friendly – or was it because the location was convenient, the forecourt quiet and the price was below $1.50? And they had double fly-buys on Mars Bars at the time!
When you last bought sports shoes, did you buy them because Michael Jordan or David Beckham wears them, or did you buy them because they fit and felt comfortable?
Selling is about the transfer of emotions. About identifying with people and solving problems. About building relationships of trust.
Salesmanship today is a sophisticated process using skills that takes time to learn and develop. It’s not something one tries; it’s not a job you give to your mate because he’s unemployed, or to a support supervisor because your customers like her.
Salespeople need to be trained and coached on a daily or weekly basis. They need to be monitored exactly as you would an investment because that’s exactly what they are; an investment in your two most vital assets. You see, they are responsible for the maintenance and growth of your revenue stream and your customer database.
And you want to leave that task to someone who is untrained and working on their own with no system and no process?
I can hear you answering with a glib comment like “And so what if I train them and they leave?” Worse still, what if you didn’t and they stayed!
Train your salespeople and treat them with respect. And remember; you’re charging them with the maintenance and growth of your biggest asset – your customer database.
(c) James Yuille