Whether a sales professional’s sales cycle is short or long, here are five specific steps that will help seal the deal.
Consider the customer’s point of view. Dale Carnegie’s 17th Human Relations principle, ‘Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view,’ is paramount to building a strong relationship with customers. While sales representatives may believe that their one-size-fits-all product or service is the absolute best available on the market, every prospect has unique needs to address during the sales process. Instead of repeating what the product or service does, focus on what it can do to solve the specific challenges a customer faces.
Listen. The only way to learn about the prospect or customer’s specific challenges is to be an active listener—which means fully focusing on what they say rather than just passively ‘hearing’ the message. By applying Dale Carnegie’s 7th principle, ‘Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves,’ sales representatives can use all of their senses to fully comprehend what must issues be solved. When a customer sighs in exasperation before or after disclosing a current challenge, it’s a clue to pay particular attention and address it when appropriate.
Open up. Stellar sales professionals have heard it all and leverage this information instead of simply storing it. After learning about a prospect’s specific problems, top sales pro’s ask clarifying questions to better understand the root cause of the issues. Often times, the sales rep. has encountered another organization with similar challenges. Sharing the specific resolution with the prospect not only builds the prospect’s confidence in the solution being offered, but reassures the customer that the sales rep. is listening to understand and not simply to respond—which ultimately fosters trust.
Set expectations. Often times, a deal can take weeks—even months, to close. After the initial sales presentation and aforementioned discussion, it is critical to define the next steps in the sales process. Closing the meeting by summarizing action items; e.g. the prospect will procure answers to questions A, B and C; and the sales professional will schedule a technical call between her team and the prospect’s, is critical to keep the sales process in motion. State next steps verbally and then send an email or other form of documentation to ensure that expectations have been set. This is an ideal time to bring knowledge experts into the mix by copying them on the communication and following up as needed.
Express appreciation. Dale Carnegie’s 2nd principle, ‘Give honest, sincere appreciation,’ is something leading sales pro’s do regularly. If the discussion post sales pitch transforms into a long rant by the prospect about current issues her organization faces, they show sincere appreciation for her candor, trust and time. If they encounter objections they’re not certain they can overcome, they still thank the prospect for her time and assure her that they will procure the information required to ascertain if the solution being offered is in fact a viable one for the prospect.
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