Consultative Selling Part II

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Business Communications
 
There are many types of business communications such as introductions, appointment confirmations, meeting follow-ups to document agreed next steps, and order confirmations. Salespeople often rush to send their communications without spending a few minutes to ensure that their communication will have the maximum impact possible.
 
A well-constructed business communication, such as an email or introduction letter, can be effectively described as a sleeping salesperson. Each communication should be strategically used to confirm what has been agreed and close the prospect on the next part of the sales process.
 
Equally important, each communication should be structured to have an introduction and a call to action. It is recommended that standard email drafts be set up to ensure consistency of electronic business communications.
 
Consultative Selling Process
 
All businesses need customers who are confident that they made the right decision to buy. In many cases, prospects feel that they bought under pressure, and invariably end up canceling their order.
 
To mitigate this risk, salespeople need to work in partnership with their prospects to lead them to the right decision for their organization, regardless of whether or not that means a sale. The focus becomes the customer’s needs, and your ability to provide a solution for their needs.
 
Following is a sales process guaranteed to win business:

  1. Introduction to Establish Rapport
  2. Provide Brief Value Proposition
  3. State the Agenda for the Call
  4. Probing Questions to Identify Implicit Needs
  5. Further Questions to Develop Explicit Needs
  6. Present Solution to Explicit Needs
  7. Handle any Objections
  8. Ensure Prospect is Sold in Principle
  9. Negotiate Terms to Mutual Agreement
  10. Get Commitment for the Sale

Neil Rackham’s bestseller SPIN Selling provides an excellent framework for developing consultative sales process in any organization. Based on research of over 35,000 sales calls, this methodology is based on the most research ever conducted on the sales process.
 
At its core, SPIN selling is all about converting implicit needs into explicit needs. Implicit needs are statements of problems, dissatisfactions, and difficulties. Explicit needs are specific customer wants and desires.
 
It is the satisfaction of explicit needs that leads to a successful sales call. The goal of SPIN selling is to convert surface-level implicit needs into deeply rooted explicit needs.
 
To convert implicit needs into explicit needs, Rackham suggests using the SPIN framework, which is an acronym for:

  • Situation – questions designed to gather facts.
  • Problem – questions to identify challenges
  • Implication – exploring the impact of problems.
  • Need-Payoff – discussing the value of a solution.

Use a SPIN Selling Tool to further develop appropriate questions for your organization.
 
Additionally, create a standardized Sales Proposal and Sales Presentation template that you can quickly modify for new opportunities.
 
Once your funnel starts to fill up, use an Opportunity Pipeline Tool to report expected revenues, and document where accounts are in the sales cycle.
 
In order to effectively use the SPIN Selling methodology, salespeople must further develop their active listening skills. Most salespeople are great talkers, but the exceptional star sellers tend to be even better listeners.

Following is a comparison between strong and weak listeners:
 
Strong Listener                            Weak Listener
Open Body Posture                      Closed Body Posture
Leans Forward                              Leans Back
Interrupts to Understand               Interrupts to Speak
Maintains Eye Contact                  Looks Around
Nods & Acknowledges                  No Interaction
Sits Still and Relaxed                    Fidgets and Acts Restless
Restates and Paraphrases           Talks Over
Takes Detailed Notes                    Doesn’t Take Notes
Asks Great Questions                   Doesn’t Ask Questions
 
Although SPIN Selling prevents many objections that come up in the buying process, there will always be some concerns or questions that need to be answered before a prospect will be ready to move forward.
 
Following is a simple 4-step approach for effectively handling objections and getting back to the sales process:

  1. Soften – empathize and agree with the customer. Some examples include: “I understand.” or “I agree with you.” or “that’s a valid concern.”
  2. Confirm – paraphrase their concern to demonstrate understanding. For example: “so what you are telling me is that you need.”
  3. Respond – use an objection response to present a valid argument that can alleviate the customer’s concern.
  4. Close – following your response, a trial close can be used to bring the discussion back on track to the sales presentation. For example: “do you see how we can alleviate your concern? Great! Are you ready to move forward?”

Use an Objection Response Tool to determine how your top salespeople overcome common objections.
 
Following are some objection handling techniques:

  1. Feel, Felt, Found – agree with the customer that many customers have “felt” that way in the past, what we have “found” is that by [insert response], our clients have “found” that.
  2. Yes, But. – this is an empathy statement by agreeing with the objection followed by – “but have you ever thought about.”
  3. Restate & Qualify – paraphrase the objection to establish whether the objection is REAL or not.
  4. Convert to Question – if you need some time to think about your response, one technique is to ask a question of the prospect to buy some time.
  5. Isolate Objection – ensure that all other objections have been covered, and then work to isolate the most difficult objection and close on that one.
  6. Boomerang – make the objection the exact reason they SHOULD buy.

Part III The Art of negotiating and Closing techniques tomorrow

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