Every sale should go through a structured process involving a series of 7 steps.
We know from experience that sales people who follow these steps – from locating a customer to securing a sales order – will experience an increase in sales, or their sales will provide a better financial return.
Step 1 – Lead generation
The first step is about finding someone to sell to, someone who is, or should be in the market for your product. The action you take to generate a sales lead is called cold-calling, prospecting, farming, or canvassing, among other names.
Lead generation can take the following forms:
• Cold-calling – physically attending, without invitation, a potential customer’s premises.
• Telemarketing – telephoning a potential customer.
• Mailers – letter drops, posted letters, flyers, hard copy and 3D mailers, etc.
• Calling upon current customers with a view to upgrading or selling them additional products.
• Social media or electronic marketing activity.
There are many other forms of marketing and promotion conducted by companies that are not created by a sales person’s direct efforts.
Step 2 – First appointment
A first appointment is the first chance you get to meet a potential customer and to establish what it is they need or want, if anything. This could be called a ‘needs analysis’ meeting.
While this discussion can take place over the telephone or via email, it’s best to have a face-to-face meeting. Meeting with your customer in person is the ideal way to communicate with them as you’ll understand their situation better by seeing it for yourself. You also get a chance to judge their reactions by watching their body language.
Step 3 – Demonstration
This is the step where we get to show our product to the customer.
We show them why they should select our product, as opposed to selecting a competitor’s offering, or retaining their current product. Where possible, we invite the customer to touch, feel, see or experience the product so they better understand what we’re offering. It should be more than a sales pitch – it’s not just “talk”, it’s “show and tell.”
Step 4 – The proposal
A proposal is the step where we summarize the issues our customer wants addressed, outline how our product will address those issues and improve their situation. We also explain what the investment cost will be, i.e. how much they have to pay.
Step 5 – Negotiation
This is when the customer has questions or you address any concerns they may have with proceeding with your proposed solution. Discussions could be about the product, the after sale service and support, or the payment or payment method you’re requiring the customer to commit to.
Step 6 – Order
The customer places an order and agrees to purchase from you, thereby becoming your customer.
Step 7 – Lost order
This is the most forgotten step of the sales process. When you don’t receive the order from a customer because they selected an alternate supplier it’s not a pleasant feeling.
You need to establish why this happened because it is a valuable element in your long term sales success. Always ask why you didn’t get the sale and learn from this.
By appreciating every sale as a series of steps, you not only maximize the chance of securing an order from a customer, but it will help you sell at higher price points, obtaining higher gross profit.