Feb 23

The Sales Process for People Who Hate “Selling”

I actually really miss selling. Sometimes marketing feels so distant from the actual product and customer itself. It shouldn’t, but it often does, particularly in larger organizations.

I have been blessed in career to have sold to some really great customers. I don’t look at sales as something “slimy”. There is nothing more gratifying than actually meeting a need that a customer has had for a long time.

In an ideal world, a great product sells itself. This mentality will hurt you though. Why? Because your competitor may have a product that isn’t good, but has an aggressive sales staff that closes every deal it gets its hands on. For those of you who would like to learn a process to compete against people like these, I’ve broken down my sales process for you:

1.) Break the ice first. I’ve found breaking the ice varies from region to region. Southern women tend to take the longest, while those in the Bay Area and Northeast want to get straight to the point. If you launch too quickly into your pitch, your intentions to sell are too obvious and you may be wasting everyone’s time anyway.

2.) Ask questions. This is the most underrated aspect of selling. Ask about problems and pain points that may pertain to your product. Ask budget and time frame. Ask if they are looking at competitors and why. The more information you get, the more specialized you can be when actually solving a problem (which theoretically your product should do).

3.) Create a solution. Depending on what you sell, this could or could not be complicated. A tip? When you get to this step, you should be able to say, “Because you said you wanted something that __________, I’m recommending ________.” Or you could use “Product X solves (insert customer problem here) by doing ____________. Show how your product solves problems versus merely pushing a solution on someone.

4.) Clarify that your solution actually does indeed solve a problem. Does your customer still have concerns at this point? Are they satisfied with your solution? If not, return to step #2.

5.) Ask for the business. Remember that time frame is key for this. If your customer told you they aren’t looking to buy for a few weeks, you can “always be closing” by asking for a follow up appointment instead of a sale.

I hope this helps. I get really bummed when I see great products floundering because “they aren’t ready yet” or because “they don’t have the time to sell”.

If you have any questions, just ask. I’m happy to help.

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  • http://bennyshaviv.com Benny Shaviv

    Michelle,

    I also love sales and have been doing it for years (ever since hanging up my programming gloves). I never thought I would be in sales but ever since I fell into it (literally) my experience has been great; mostly because it was in the B2B world, and in that world integrity & honesty are key for any sales person to succeed. Selling the first license is only a start and a satisfied customer will buy 10 times more (statistics say it is 6 times easier to sell to an existing customer than to a new one). Your point # 4 is the key here.

    Benny
    .-= Benny Shaviv´s last blog ..When SaaS free trial offers fail =-.

  • Neal Barker

    Good insight, Michelle. It seems all of the various sales “programs” have different ways of saying the same thing. I like the way you break it down simply.

  • http://www.effectivemarketer.com Daniel Kuperman

    Great list of the basics, Michelle.

    I would also add:
    - Honesty: be very honest about what your product can and cannot do. Otherwise it will just come back to kick you in the face.

    - Perseverance: getting “no” is typical and in sales situations you will get a lot of “No’s”. Keep going, don’t dispair. Also, like you said, follow-up is critical. Just because the prospect is not ready today it doesn’t mean he/she will not be ready 1 month or 1 year from now. Keep trying (without being annoying).

    - Understand the sales process: essential when doing B2B sales because the person you’re dealing with may not be the decision maker. Is OK to ask “so, what is the typical process for purchasing a solution like this? Do you make the final decision or do you have to take it to someone else?”. Understanding who’ll be the ultimate decision maker and who influences that decision is key to being successful.
    .-= Daniel Kuperman´s last blog ..The Dirty Side of Marketing =-.

  • http://www.springbox.com/insight Emily

    I agree with Daniel. Being transparent and honest with your intentions is incredibly important. The internet has enabled consumers to educated themselves on anything, so it’s important to establish a human connection with them. At Springbox, we wrote a similar blog entry on Ecommerce: http://www.springbox.com/insight/post/Guiding-A-Brand-Into-The-Social-Commerce-Frontier.aspx
    .-= Emily´s last blog ..What Inspires You? Part Three =-.

  • http://www.robcaldwell.wordpress.com Rob Caldwell

    I liked how concise you were with all your points. I think most books about selling don’t make it that simple. Great job.
    I would add one more point: say “Thanks” in some way after you make a sale. I know that this goes a long way for most people and may even lead to future sales. Just my two cents.

  • http://www.motorphilia.com Aaron Manley Smith

    Well, what’s funny is we’re starting to grow and I’m having to get to that part where I have to coach and train others . . what’s amazing to me is how many people just talk and let themselves get pushed around by the client, rather than listen and take the role of being a problem solver.

    You did good here gal. I’m actually going to forward this over to some of my newbies.