I don't possess a "natural" selling ability. Actually, I'm quite sales averse, having had many bad encounters with many bad salespeople. I'm jaded. I'm always distrustfully on the lookout for "the pitch."
Unfortunately, this is the resistance that many businesses encounter when they try to sell to somebody. They must contend with the cumulative negative sales experiences of their potential customers.
That's because most salespeople don't sell smart. Smart selling is different than what most people consider selling to be—the unfortunate transactional, get-the-dollars model that pervades many businesses. If you view sales this way, as merely the occurrence of a transaction, there are only a finite number of transactions out there. You're cutting your business's potential at the knees with this perspective!
That's why, at E-Myth, we abhor the word "sales." According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, a sale is "the transfer of ownership of property from one person to another in return for money." Eek! That doesn't sound very inspired, does it?
We like to refer to "sales" as Lead Conversion: the essential business process to acquire long-term, quality clients through the implementation of lead conversion systems so that prospects perceive the commodity and the company as emotionally satisfying. This, you can see, involves much more than "a sale" or just getting your customers' money!
With the right lead conversion system, my lack of natural selling ability is suddenly no longer a barrier to my success at converting qualified leads into quality clients. Why? Because, like everything else in your business, where there exists the possibility of creating an expert system, there lies the potential to empower ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results!
The universal five-step lead conversion process
With an expert lead conversion system, you (and all of your salespeople) will be able to sell smarter and acquire long-term, quality clients. Here is the basic five-step formula to help you get started:
- Engage with your prospective customer. This is the point when your customers start to build their expectations about what they want or don't want. This is your opportunity to create interest; to show the prospective customer that you are committed to giving them what they want out of your relationship. Be sure to keep your focus on the customer. If you make one thing clear in the initial engagement, have it be that the needs and comfort of the prospective customer are your principal concerns.
- Repeat the emotional message of your promise. Your customers want to engage with you because something about your product or service promises to meet their emotional needs. This promise was originally made during the lead generation process. Reengage with that promise, and affirm that your customer has come to the right place to have it fulfilled.
- Determine the customer's needs. What do your customers want, and why do they think that your product or service can give it to them? The more you know about what your customers want and need, the better you will be able to meet those needs. Devise a standard set of questions that will enable your salespeople to determine what your customers' needs are, as well as how your company will expertly meet those needs.
- Provide a solution. Your mantra should be: "Don't sell…satisfy." Help your customers to discover whether your offering solves their needs, and thus leads to a regret-free purchase decision. Take this opportunity to educate your customers about how your product or service will address and satisfy their exact needs. Be excited and passionate about the information you are relaying, and offer it with no strings attached.
- Offer the product or service: Your customer should now have all of his or her questions answered, and be able to make a decision. So, make your offer through your customers' point of view. Consider whether the product meets theirs needs and delivers what it promises. If the answer is yes, then you've got a sale. If not, keep the door open. They will most likely be back when they're ready.
This universal five-step lead conversion process offers a great guideline for determining what elements are required for your lead conversion system. These concepts will help you to build a mutually supportive relationship with your customers; a relationship that is bigger than a mere transaction.
Shoot, I probably wouldn't be so sales averse if I had more frequently encountered a selling process like this. A process that addresses my concerns and needs, rather than the sales person's concern with getting a commission check!
Share your story
Do you have a lead conversion process? Does your sales team have a standard list of questions to determine what your customers' real needs are? Post a comment and tell us about it.