Did You Know?
Supporting the perspectives on the selling process presented in this newsletter’s main article, consider this short story involving baseball great Ted Williams.
As you may know, Ted was a star player for the Boston Red Sox from 1939 through 1960, except for the three years he spent in World War II… and one of his nicknames (he had several) was, “The Best Hitter that Ever Was!” In fact, in 1941 he posted a .406 batting average, making him the last MLB player to bat over .400 in a season.
So the story goes that one day a young newspaper reporter ran into Ted at a train station… as you can imagine, the youngster was quite impressed and found himself rambling on about what an “honor it was… meeting the best batter in baseball… and so on and so on…” And then he said to Ted Williams, “Gee Mr. Williams, you must be a great student of hitting.”
To which Ted replied, “No son, I’m a great student of pitching!”
Tying this into our discussion, as sales professionals we must understand both the selling process and the buying process; we must learn why people might be most likely to buy-in to our ideas and proposals, and then structure our presentations to match that thinking process.
Along those lines, in his book, “The Anatomy of Persuasion,” author Norbert Aubuchon shared his research on defining the buying or “buying-in” process. He identified the following five steps:
- NEEDS – a buyer has an unsatisfied need, either recognized or unrecognized
- RECOGNIZE – a buyer recognizes the need, and makes it a priority; the buyer is willing to act
- SEARCH – the buyer seeks information on how to satisfy the need
- EVALUATE – the buyer matches the information with requirements and rates the results
- DECIDE – positive ratings usually result in a buying decision; negative ratings result in continued search
Interestingly, these steps align nicely with the steps for selling a product or service, which are outlined in this newsletter’s main article.
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"Who speaks, sows. Who listens, reaps."
"Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors... try to be better than yourself."
"Never let the fear of striking out keep you from coming up to bat."
"Being right doesn’t mean you win."
—David Brock, Speaker
"By far, the best way to influence people is to listen to them."
—Charles H. Green,
CEO Trusted Advisor Associates
"You never fail until you stop trying."
Paul Charles & Associates
519 Mammoth Rd - Londonderry, NH 03053
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& communicate better"
|Doing things in the proper sequence is often critically-important.
For example, in mathematics we have the standard order of operations. If we’re to reach the right solution our calculations must be performed in the right sequence, which is "Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication and Division, and then Addition and Subtraction." A common technique for remembering this sequence is the phrase "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally."
Similarly, a good chef will tell you that the key to success when following a recipe is to not only add the right quantity of the right ingredients, but also to do so at the right time.
And as depicted in the image above, if we fail to aim before we fire, we are likely to miss our target!
So… there is an order of things.
And this “order of things” certainly applies to the selling process. Consider this three-pronged sequence: sell yourself, sell the company, and then sell products and services.
Sell yourself… the most effective sellers connect with buyers early in the selling process by establishing themselves as value-added experts and professional resources.
They do this in a fashion that also establishes high-levels of trust and mutual respect. The best overall strategy for accomplishing this is to focus more on being “interested” rather than struggling to be “interesting.” By learning a range of situational details about buyers and buyers’ organizations the sellers can draw important conclusions about the best next steps and can also properly align the soon-to-be shared value-proposition.
This approach tends to yield two significantly-important outcomes: buyers will answer questions more freely and more completely, and buyers will be more likely to believe what the sellers tell them.
Sell the company… before attempting to sell products and services the most effective sellers also present bigger-picture and value-added information about their organizations that aligns with information gathered while being "interested" as noted above.
Then sell products and services… Once we have connected with our customer or prospect, and once we have identified and shared common ground at the organizational level, we can then proceed to “sell” our products and services.
Of course there's an order of things to be followed here too:
The important thing is to always seek a commitment for a proactive next step that keeps the selling process moving forward.
- Qualification – the first step is to ensure our prospect or customer has the wherewithal to buy. This step might also include confirming access to budget, determining the decision-making process and the criteria on which decisions will be made, and identifying the anticipated time-frame for implementation.
- Assessment – the second step involves a comprehensive analysis of the buyers’ needs, both recognized and unrecognized. As noted in a previous newsletter, the best sellers are able to go beyond the surface needs to identify short-term goals as well as longer-term objectives, potential obstacles, related needs or problems, and the associated implications.
- Confirmation – before completing our assessment it is best to confirm the details. This simple step can help us avoid a misaligned presentation and also enable us to more easily establish value with buyers.
- Presentation – Now we can present the benefits and value associated with our products and services. This should be done in a fashion that aligns with our assessment; in other words, our proposed solutions should match the buyers’ needs and priorities.
We should also continue the “confirmation” step while presenting our solution by maintaining an interactive posture and asking a series of “trial closing” questions. Unlike closing questions, which seek decisions, trial closing questions seek opinions – in particular, has our presentation been properly understood and is our buyer receptive to what we’re presenting?
- Call to Action – finally comes the call to action… if all has gone according to plan this step is easy and natural. But please remember, the call to action does not always involve “closing the sale.” In many situations the call to action will instead involve gaining a commitment for the next step in the process, which might include follow-up meetings with various decision-makers or influencers, product demonstrations, contract reviews, and so on.
Following the order of things is important in any process. But unlike more observable processes, such as baking a pie or making widgets on a production line, the selling process demands more intense self-assessment because others are less likely to be in a position to observe and critique our approach.
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A Few Quick Seconds…
Here are a couple of related articles from past issues you might have missed, and which generated especially positive feedback:
Accelerating the Sales Process
If your organization has created a sales process, then you are aware of the various benefits associated with mapping-out an approach to transacting business. If not, then you might consider doing so for several reasons.
Read full article
Does Your Organization Walk Your Talk?
When engaged in selling, prospecting, interviewing job applicants, or business in general, do the people in your organization walk the talk?
Read full article...
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