The one big thing you must do BEFORE you start selling
Sales people often ask me what I do to prepare before I either visit a client, or call them. From colleagues in the past, to 1 to 1 clients now they have all seen me close a lot of sales and want to know how I am still doing so after well over 30 years. It’s not a huge secret, but surprisingly it is not something many sales people do well enough.
I prepare to sell.
Yep! It’s not rocket science, but not many sales people prepare effectively and I’m sorry to say, not many businesses help them to either.
How I prepare to sell successfully
There are many things that I do, so over the years I have developed a list. Not a complex one, just a simple list of tasks that I go through before I pick up the phone, or meet a client face to face.
It is a bit like an ordinary “To Do” list. However, it really hasn’t changed much over the years. I always like to keep a copy in my sales presenter or stuck on the wall near my desk in the office. My sales check list contains lots of reminders for me to consider, but the one that most people tend to not put too much effort into these days is around researching their prospects.
Don’t assume you know everything about your prospects
Now you probably know from your marketing research, what your ideal customer looks like. Where they hang out, what their most common problems are. However, never assume that every prospect on your pipeline has exactly the same needs.
Assuming you know what your customer needs is the biggest failing of any sales person and will always kill the sale.
To better explain I have a case study that explains my point perfectly.
I was engaged to carry out a piece of research for a recruitment company several years ago which turned up some very interesting results. The sales and marketing message that the recruitment company had been giving out was they they were the cheapest and could not be beaten on price. It’s a pretty common message for many businesses to advertise and can be very effective.
In order to reaffirm what their customers likes and dislikes were and tailor the message more effectively, I sent out an online survey for all existing customers to complete. One of the questions asked the respondent to list, in order of priority what made them decide to use one recruitment company over another. They had five choices to prioritise and it was probably the most telling question in the whole survey.
The result was that around 90% listed the quality of the candidates provided by a recruitment company to be the number one priority. Of the five choices, pricing came bottom on the list for nearly 80% of respondents. This meant that the recruitment company had been getting their message to prospects very wrong indeed. They quite clearly regarded quality candidates as being a lot more important than price.
The owner had been in recruitment over 15 years, always focused on price, and had always assumed that this was the most important thing to his clients. As a result, the agency changed the message to clients to one that focused more on quality and delivering value for money, than purely being the cheapest.
Guess what? The sales team actually sold more, because they had aligned their sales message with what their clients actually wanted to hear!
“Never assume you know what your customer wants. If you are not sure, just ask” – Susan Marot
Each customer needs individual research
Now this isn’t a blog post about price, it’s a post about preparing effectively, and researching your customers needs must be part of your check list too. However, don’t just rely on your marketing research to guide you. I promise you that if you spend just 5 minutes researching the next person you are going to call or meet, I can assure you that the extra effort will pay dividends.
When I started selling in the 80’s it was hard to find this kind of information out, but nowadays the internet can give you some vital information in minutes that will ensure your selling is a lot more effective than your competitors. However, if you can spend a little more time cross referencing to check your facts, then even better still.
My 7 Essential Preparation Strategies
Again I would love to know what you think of my check list.
- Learn about your potential customers
- Know your benefits
- Understand the competition
- Qualify the opportunity
- Remember your tools
- Practice your pitch
- Set SMART objectives
If you have one of your own then let me know what’s in yours. These are really simple strategies that I have been using it for over 30 years. If they still work for me then I know they will work for you too!