The most important thing to remember in any sales setting is to stay in control of the situation by utilizing all of the steps of the sales cycle AND remain flexible so you can adapt to any situation. The thing you must always keep in mind is that strategic selling is a process.
However, as a professional salesperson you should avoid making too much of the process, which can lend to you resisting to follow the process. Unfortunately, some sales managers make too little of their sales process by not enforcing its use at all. And some sales organizations and sales thinkers have abandoned the sales process, incorrectly believing that buyers are in charge of the buying process and salespeople are unnecessary, irrelevant, subservient, or create no value through a process.
All of these notions are incorrect. Salespeople help their clients recognize needs – sometimes when the client is not even aware that they exist! There are four ways in which every salespeople chooses to approach a sales situation. The first three ways are inefficient, leaving rocks unturned and leading to missed opportunities. Avoid making these mistakes! Staying in control at all times by following the sales process will greatly help guide any situation to a mutually beneficial outcome for you and your client.
#1 – On The Fly
When salespeople decide not to follow a process, they believe that they are being flexible, creative, and adaptable. In reality, their premise is flawed. In order to be flexible, creative, or adaptable, there needs to be some norm from which you are intentionally deviating. Some argue that having no process is in fact a process. But it isn’t. A process is something that is designed to lead to repeatable success. A sales process is the plan to move from target to close. When salespeople refuse a process, they skip the necessary steps to discover client needs and offer smart solutions. They jeopardize building a trusted business relationship. Selling “on the fly” may occasionally help close a sale, but a majority of the time more opportunities are missed than capitalized upon.
#2 – Too Compliant
Some salespeople, and a few sales organizations, religiously adhere to a sales process. They are inflexible, which leads to a lack of resourcefulness and creativity. When the sales process defines outcomes at a certain stage, they religiously pursue those outcomes, even if gently guiding the client down a different road would move them closer to closing the sale and better serving their client. These salespeople are, in fact, too compliant. The sales process is a roadmap – not the terrain itself. Sometimes the road pictured on the map doesn’t look like reality, and a true professional salesperson will recognize this and blaze a new trail. The “too complaint” salesperson stays on the marked path even when it leads to a missed opportunity.
#3 – No Control
These salespeople don’t follow a process and celebrate their ability to be extremely flexible. They give their prospective client whatever they want, even if it does not serve the best interest of their company or the client. “If the prospective client said they want this to be the next step, then that is the next step,” they say. “The client is always right.” However, many buyers don’t have any idea what they need to achieve their goals, what they want from a strategic media partner, or how the salesperson can create value for them. By being too flexible and having no process, the salesperson does their client a disservice and they miss opportunities to close the sale. These salespeople have “no control” of the situation, and would be better served sticking to a process that takes the client’s needs into account.
#4 – In Control
True professional salespeople follow a strict sales process. They understand the series of repeatable steps that must be taken to position themselves to close the sale and serve their clients by helping them achieve their business goals. These salespeople are proficient in knowing when to deviate slightly from the sales process when it’s necessary. When the roadmap isn’t an accurate representation, they make adjustments. But they don’t ignore the sales process! Instead, they find ways to provide the buyer with what they need to make an informed and mutually beneficial decision. They are flexible, resourceful, creative, and adaptable. These salespeople are “in control” of the process without being so rigid that they ignore the buyer’s needs.
Have a terrific week,
If there are specific topics you’d like to see discussed in a future issue of The Sales Cycle, please contact me at 612-278-0223 or firstname.lastname@example.org