The world runs on systems! Every sustainable action we undertake in our lives requires a methodology that is followed and replicated for continued success. With this acknowledged, I'm amazed at the number of salespeople who continue to live in a "wing it" world where they use personality and intuition to "try to" achieve their sales goals. Selling systems should be fluid and allow the salesperson to appropriately use personality to bond with the prospect and then, establish a road map to move through the sales process to its proper ending.
Basic sales common sense tells us that all humans differ from one another and it is therefore, unrealistic, truthfully impossible, to use a robotic system that treats them all the same way. To circumvent an approach doomed for failure, salespeople must learn to skillfully apply a blend of personality and sales methodology in their day to day prospecting and sales calls.
The basic elements of any selling system incorporate research, first contact, building a relationship, qualifying the prospect, needs assessment, presenting solutions, closing, negotiating and servicing. I happen to utilize a methodology, the Sandler System, that poses a unique slant on these steps, however, I find that any system, faithfully executed, will achieve the desired result. There are only two outcomes to an effective sales call and all salespeople should focus on achieving either one or the other. The first is YES! This prize is their Golden Ticket to quota achievement. A YES either means we will do business or we will move forward in the mutual qualifying process. Note the emphasis on mutual!
The other outcome to be expected from a well-executed sales call is the word most salespeople dread, NO! This simply means that either one or both parties is not qualified to or desirous of exploring the potential of doing business. Ironically enough, NO is a positive response; since it signifies that the salesperson need not waste any more time in "strong-arming" the prospect into a decision that won't change, ever! Lower performing salespeople chase NOs as they, under the heading "Persistence," as they believe using this self-defeating attribute will yield a closed sale. It often involves an unrealistic lowering of price as well as the acceptance of terms skewed totally in the prospect's favor. This over reliance on low price is the single biggest factor weakening any business' bottom line if not controlled. Although I am sure few do, a qualified NO is a gift the salesperson should celebrate as it saves them valuable time!
Regrettably, many low-performing salespeople also believe "think it over" is an acceptable result of a sales call as evidenced by its dominance on far too many sales reports. Many sales managers accept this time-waster, living in the hope that there will, someday, be a payoff. The sad reality is this: the salesperson who accepts a "think it over" is the only one "thinking it over". The prospect has already decided not to do business and chose not to share it with the unskilled salesperson.
If salespeople are truly using an effective system, the YES or NO are naturally definable results and the hopeful "think it over," nonexistent.
Another benefit of a predictable selling system is the development of a common language whereby the sales manager and sales team are using similar words and terms to describe a potential sale's progress. When asked for a sales' status, many lower-performing salespeople use phrases like: "We're pretty close" or they place their thumb and forefinger millimeters apart and say, "I'm this close to getting the order". If the sales manager accepts their pronouncements as gospel, they will probably be soon unemployed due to inaccurate forecasting.
If you and your salespeople are in "wing it" mode, it's time to commit to a sale process that assures predictable results. Consistent usage of an impactful selling methodology and common language inherently lend themselves to the YES or NO, both of which should be celebrated! Go conquer your worlds!
• Bill Bartlett owns Corporate Strategies, A Sandler Training Center. firstname.lastname@example.org.