So, here’s a question, True or False, from YOUR experience and perspective in either Direct Sales or Managing the Selling Process:
“Successfully executing a selling process CONSISTENTLY is very challenging for me.”
If your answer is TRUE, you are not alone! There are so many sales professionals who struggle to find the right path and process to repeatedly follow to get a customer to say yes to the deal. I believe this happens because we attempt to adhere to a hard-to-remember process and steps, we don’t necessarily follow it in the prescribed order, and develop the discipline to execute it consistently with all the external pressures and policy requirements of those we sell for, can just be too much to manage.
Over my entire career, I have been very fortunate to have worked for some amazing companies and inspirational leaders while meeting incredible furniture retailers. No matter the title I carried or the role I had, the selling process was always an important part of my responsibilities every single time, including either being in a direct selling role or in a position where I was responsible for leading the selling efforts for the company or initiative in some capacity. Throughout the years, I had to focus a large part of my efforts on developing and mastering a process that worked well for me in a manner that was flexible enough to handle any specific situation or selling effort I was executing.
There are a lot of very smart people and effective sales training companies that will tout the process that they believe is the best to follow. They can point to great successes from those they have taught to implement it. While mine is similar to perhaps one you may follow or have heard of, I am pleased to share it here, along with the ONE crucial step to successfully execute every single time for the desired result to happen. And what is that desired result?
Getting the YES, of course!
Here is the process I have followed my entire career, specifically when I want to influence the positive decision of someone or something I am working towards achieving:
- Initiate: Discovering the Opportunity and Developing the Relationship
- Qualifying: Asking the Right Questions in the Right Manner to Determine the Need
- Solution: Providing the Best Options to Solve the Problem
- Complete: Successfully Addressing Any Concerns and Get the YES!
- Satisfy: Ensure Complete Satisfaction and Ask for Any Additional Referrals
Easy to understand, right? No fancy terminology, procedures, or paperwork is needed to support it. It is a common-sense approach to identifying, connecting, listening, presenting solutions, and asking for the YES without forgetting to ensure the ‘happy ending’ of the entire process.
Of those five steps, which one is the MOST important of them all? #2: QUALIFYING!
When talking about the furniture retail business, people rarely come in the door to wander around because they have extra time and nothing better to do. People enter a furniture store because they have a NEED or a PROBLEM TO SOLVE. The successful sales professional will work diligently to uncover exactly what those two things are to provide solutions and execute a successful result – for their customer and them!
Asking the right questions of customers during the Qualifying stage of the selling process is crucial for sales professionals to do successfully for several reasons:
- Understanding Customer Needs: By asking the right questions, sales professionals can better understand their customers’ desires, needs, and pain points. This allows them to tailor their approach and pitch to address these specific concerns, increasing the chances of successfully making the sale.
- Customizing Solutions: Each customer is unique, and asking the right questions helps sales professionals uncover their customers’ specific challenges or goals. This enables them to offer personalized and tailored solutions more likely to meet the customers’ expectations for the best options available.
- Building Rapport and Trust: By asking questions and actively listening to their customers’ responses, sales professionals can better engage with customers, showing that they genuinely care about their needs. This helps to build rapport and trust, which are crucial for establishing long-term relationships and repeat business. One important way to demonstrate this is to take detailed notes as the customer explains what they are looking for or their preferences. These notes serve two critical purposes; first, by writing them down, the sales professional will easily reference all of the information provided, and second, it shows that what the customer is saying is important enough to note. When it comes time to provide those customized solutions, the sales professional can refer back to the notes taken, which beautifully support what is presented in the next stage.
- Demonstrate the Desire to LISTEN Effectively: Let’s face it, we all like to talk! And, when we are engaged with someone as they speak, we are most likely to be focused NOT on what they are saying, but more likely on what our next response will be – so that we can get back to TALKING! In the selling process, it is so much more important to listen more than to speak. The customer provides valuable information and listens closely to the answers to all the questions, providing the perfect road map towards offering the right solutions to continue the selling discussion successfully.
- Prioritizing the Validity of the Opportunity: Effective questioning techniques during the Qualify process enable sales professionals to quickly assess if they can provide the correct solutions or products to the customer based on what they have available to sell. If the answer is no, this is a good result for the customer as it demonstrates a desire to save time if the solution is challenging. It also assists the sales professional in appropriately allocating their time and energy to the next opportunity as it becomes available with little time when the likelihood of reaching the YES is minimal.
- Overcoming Objections: By asking the right questions, sales professionals can uncover any objections or concerns their customers may have. This allows them to address these concerns directly and provide reassurance, a different solution/product, or additional information to alleviate worries or challenges and move the sales process forward. Purchasing furniture is expensive and can be very intimidating to most customers, so handling all of these objections during this part of the process is very important. It also demonstrates that the sales professional is committed to providing a great solution to their customer’s need or desire by ensuring a satisfying and genuine experience.
Most successful sales professionals create a standard ‘list’ of questions when qualifying. They like asking their customers for all the information needed to present solutions. These can be slightly modified as needed for each situation. Each question should be asked in an open-ended manner, using the starter words:
- And Tell Me About…
- Show Me….
- Give Me More Info On……
By asking the right questions and using the right starters, the customer cannot simply answer with a Yes or No. To correctly answer the question posed, they must provide a more comprehensive answer, keeping the dialog going. If you are still talking, there is always a chance to make the sale!
Asking the right questions during this Qualifying stage empowers sales professionals to understand their customers better, tailor solutions offered to their specific needs, build trust and rapport, prioritize their time and energy, and overcome objections, all of which contribute to a higher likelihood of getting the YES and making more sales – and THAT is why it is the most important part of the process!
For more information on Lorri’s 5-Step Selling Process and other areas of coaching, strategic planning, and speaking, please visit www.lorrikelley.com