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What Do High Growth Businesses Do Differently?

Over the past 5 years the importance of the “High Growth Business” and how this relatively small group of businesses disproportionally impa...

Thursday 27 August 2009

5 stages to a sales call - Are there more?

My thanks to Robert Middleton for bringing this to my attention, Robert as many of you know runs a very successful online business called Action Plan Marketing; find him at http://actionplan.com/. Specifically, having read my article on "The 5 stages of a sales call" Robert asks about 3 other stages in the sales process Desired Future, Challenges in Getting There, Present Your Services and then close.

Finding your prospects desired future is key to making successful sales, this is an essential part of the qualification process. Your questioning should try to uncover both your prospects personal & business aspirations. This is particularly relevant for senior staff and especially business owners, as their business aspirations will tend to be subservient to their personal aspirations. The better you are at uncovering personal needs and wants the more sales you'll close.

Highlighting the challenges in getting there is also part of the qualification process, since you're attempting to get your prospect to uncover all the problems he faces and most importantly get him to talk about the consequences of not overcoming them. You must however concentrate on areas where you product provides a solution therefore increasing the value of your offering. Only once you are sure you've uncovered all his obstacles do you venture to offer a solution. If you go in too early you devalue what you're selling.

Present your Services fits neatly between the qualification stage and the close in my model. It is nevertheless an important point to only present your services when you're clear what problems the prospect has. You solution should be couched squarely at you prospects specific needs starting with what you think is the most important. This way you get you prospects buy in early and so making the close easier.

I see the first two as an essential part of the qualification process, but recognise that they are an excellent aide memoir in getting sales people to focus on particular groups of questions as they progress through a sales call.

Wednesday 5 August 2009

Why Buyers Ask for Proposals to Pick Your Brains More Than to Buy

I have decided to add a guest writer for my latest blog post. It relates to that common misconception that by asking for a proposal a buyer is somehow predisposed to buy from you. Often nothing could be further from his mind.

Sadly, huge effort and intellect is wasted on proposals because the prospect has been poorly qualified. The most important point to recognise is that writing a proposal requires a great commitment from you (the seller), and no commitment from him (the buyer).

To make the most of a sales opportunity a proposal must be an integral part of your sales strategy. The more complex the sale the more important this becomes. Personally I never write a proposal without first having a date in the diary with the prospect to present it, and no I don't send it to him prior to the meeting.

So here it is. Its written by Dan Seidman at www.salesautopsy.com

Proposals are the foundation of business building for many salespeople. How many of us constantly invest precious sales time to draft a proposal, actually pouring years of experience and expertise into this written gamble at acquiring business? Too many of us spends lots of time proposing because we don't employ a qualifying system before designing these documents.

One reason most of us are so quick to accommodate potential clients is that we really do want to please people. Think of how ridiculous it would sound if you refused to provide materials to your prospect! So you and I are very likely to assume that a request for a proposal is a
yes indicator. It reinforces our hope that we've just moved one step closer to closing the sale. There is, however, the prospect's perspective. If we don't understand what might really be going on with that request, we could spend endless hours creating and delivering documents for people who have no intention of buying our products or services. And here's why:

Prospects love free consulting. They give you their biggest smile and drain your brain of all its problem-solving knowledge before you understand their true intentions. And they love it even more in print than in person. If you don't have a strategy for dealing with proposal requests, you're at the mercy of every potential client. Over the past twenty years, I've analyzed many of the top sales training organizations (see some recommendations in the appendix). It's interesting to note that virtually all the great training systems have the wisdom to recognize and teach how critical it is for a salesperson not to give everyone proposals simply because they are requested. To help you understand the dangers of proposal writing, here's a list you'll learn from.

The Top Ten Reasons A Prospect Demands A Proposal (The impact to you is in parentheses)

10. They need to keep their current vendors honest (
what a surprise—you never had a prayer of getting the business)
9. They want a fair range of prices for the type of service you offer (
thanks for the quote, the business is going to the prospect's brother-in-law, at just below your rate)
8. They want to keep themselves up-to-date on the latest business processes and technologies (
thanks for the education, goodbye)
7. They think your product or service simply sounds interesting (
but they have no intention of buying!)
6. They need new and better ideas—to make their own changes (
thanks for your free consulting; that really hurts, doesn 't it?)
5. They just wonder how much it would cost (
wow, you're really expensive!)
4. This request will get you off their back (
oops, you forgot to qualify the prospect, didn't you?)
3. They can look good when they pass your information to the real decision-maker (
did you spend all that time with the wrong person?)
2. They honestly need their problems solved (
too bad you don't know whom the other eight proposals are from, what they charge and maybe what they're saying about you)

And the number one reason prospects make you pour your blood, sweat, and tears into a proposal:

1. A prospect can lie to a salesperson and still get into heaven!

Final Thoughts:

Preparing proposals can offer false hope to all sales pros. Do you really believe that everyone asking for a customized, written solution is ready to buy?

Please, please, stop wasting your time jumping through hoops to design proposals for everyone that nods his head or grunts into your telephone.
Qualify first, and then begin to work with your best potential clients. Your organization should have some criteria for what defines a good prospect. Use them, or immediately create your own to save yourself from sales heartbreak. If you don't quickly sort the good prospects from the time wasters, bad prospects can sabotage your income. Your expectations of who will buy from you will be inaccurate. One good method might be to charge a fee for a proposal. Obviously, a prospect who's not serious won't pay for it. If this works for you, implement it.

However, your organization might not choose to use this strategy, so get a grip on what looks like a realistic buyer and craft your plan without giving away all your solutions.

The lesson here is that you need to set guidelines to determine which prospects are worth investing your time in proposal design. Otherwise, you'll waste lots of time showboating in print for prospects who have no intention of doing business with you. If you don't weed out the weeds, you'll have very little time to find, smell, and pick the flowers.