Let’s devote this week to process. If you apply a proven process to your daily sales activities, you’ll secure predictable, sustainable and repeatable sales results for you, your commission check, for the folks at home who depend on you and for your management.
Look at your sales and customer-buying processes. If these processes are not well understood, refined, documented and matched, you’re missing opportunities.
Process, as defined by dictionary.com, is: “a continuous action, operation, or series of changes taking place in a definite manner.” How could this possibly affect your daily sales activities? I know how most of us think – “I know my hot prospects, medium prospects and cold prospects and spend my time appropriately”. But it’s not necessarily where you spend your time, it’s how you spend your time.
Today, we’ll look at the customer’s buying process. You MUST understand how your customer buys, or you’re throwing darts at a dart board. Why? If your sales tactic or approach does not match the point at which a customer is buying, you’ll miss badly and will likely not be invited to the next step in their process. Remember, it’s not our process, it is their process. The customer process will vary by product and industry, but generally, a customer’s buying behavior might look like this:
1. Unaware of any need and blissful.
2. Starts to realize a problem or challenge.
3. Determines a need and begins to evaluate solutions.
4. Performs research on potential solutions.
5. Interviews potential providers.
6. Makes a selection.
7. Finalizes contracts.
Notice something about this process. Where is the word “budget”? It’s not there. Prospects will find a budget in steps 3 through 5, with or without your help. Just because there may not be any budget, does not mean we walk from the opportunity, yet so many of us do.
I love to tell the story of the car dealer ads that hit you and me earlier in 2009 that were immediately dismissed. While “Cash for Clunkers” was popular, thousands and thousands of dealerships went out of business. “There is no way I can afford a new car with the economy the way it is”, I’d mutter. Suddenly, my existing mode of transportation was spending 48 hours per week in the mechanic’s garage with seemingly no end in sight. My mechanic is now a benefactor on my will because of what I owe him! Besides the cost of repairs, it was impacting our productivity since cars are important to our jobs. Somehow, I “found” a budget to buy a new car.
There is also something subtle, yet profound about this process. The internet is not changing this process, but it is forcing a magnificent change to the way we, as sales professionals, should engage with the client buying process. Huge, absolutely huge!
I learned early in my sales career that “knowledge is power”, and whoever had the most knowledge on either side of the table would become the “winner”. The internet has shifted that power balance from the sales person to the prospect. To be able to research a competitor, product or price is one thing. We’ve been dealing with this since the mid-90’s. How about the advent of social media on the internet? The prospect is taking control, and you better be ready for it!
Tomorrow, we’ll talk more about how to align your sales process with the client’s buying process, given the impact of the internet. In the end, don’t you want sustainable, repeatable and predictable sales results for your commission check, family and management? Come back tomorrow!
2 years ago