What do you feel is the most important step, in a sale?

October 21, 2009 by Shirleen Von Hoffmann Leave a reply »

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31 Responses

  1. Rafael rodriguez says:

    Rafael Rodriguez Jr
    Sales Manager in South Florida| 20 Years of Sales, Operation, HR and Financial Strategist

    I Break down the sales process into 6 steps.

    Intro Me
    Intro Company
    State the Purpose of my Visit
    Create A Need
    Satisfy the Need
    Close.

    The first 2 are the most critical. This is where you get a chance to qualify the customer. If they do not click with you. You are not going anywhere.

    Now if you are selling water in a dessert nothing matters, they probably will buy it at the same token, you probably wont need a salesperson. Order taker will do just fine.

  2. Sanjay Waghela says:

    Sanjay Waghela
    Regional Manager

    1.Checking with customers that the expectations are met.
    2.Discover and blow up on the Pain areas where our service is of utmost importance.
    3.CLOSE

  3. Andrew Stone says:

    Andrew Stone
    at Fusion Systems Japan

    Is it a trick question? Every step is the most important one. If any step is missed or not done as if its the most important then the risk of failure increases as so does the control you have over the close. Finding out at what step sales people mostly fail at, is therefore key in helping them improve. At the end of the day the paycheck is key and unless your the ONLY ONE selling ‘water in the desert’ all steps have to be treated as the most important one or the chances of getting paid plummet. I like getting paid.

  4. Umesh Kutte says:

    Umesh Kutte
    at Chenab Information Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

    I feel Most IMP Setup is …. to Gain Confidence of Customer during 1st few Meetings…. Customer feel that your Soln is worth to buy and His Requirements are cover in your Proposal …… if this can be done in right way … you can bid best price and make good Profit Margin ….!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Andrew Stone says:

    Andrew Stone
    at Fusion Systems Japan

    Agreed, Listening is of course very important, but it is a skill. I would say its clear to distinquish the differences between attitude and skills and the actual steps to the sales process. Obviously strong skills are vital, The point is you have to deploy them at every step of the sales process to succeed. Anyway, with your opinion in mind I would amend my earlier statement by saying that; Every step of the sale must be treated as the most important AND strong sales skills(Like listening) are needed to achieve this.

  6. Zandy Houghton says:

    Zandy Houghton
    Recruitment Consultant at Reed

    I was going to say building rapport, but like Andrew has pointed out; this is a skill and not a step to the sale. However, if this is the main objective of the call then the sale will happen, regardless of mechanically going through all the steps.
    If I were to pick one particular stage; it would definately be the exploratory stage of the process; asking questions and qualifying whilst building a realtionship. I find that if this part is done, utilising good listening and rapport building skills, then you get fewer objections, they tend to close themselves and you do not need to put as much effort into ‘creating’ a need, and presenting your offering.
    Cheers
    Zandy

  7. Florent Chapus says:

    Florent Chapus
    VP Sales & Marketing, BtoB services

    I like “get recommendation from your client”, because it is an ultimate goal you should have from the start. If you/your sales people aim at getting that, you/they will naturally behave the best way all along the way and you’re most likely to ignite another sale to another customer with potential higher margins because of the wrm referral, and that’s smart to sell twice in a move!

    By the way, Shirleen, I love the topic you brought forward. I think it is a good way to help sales teams “re-think” their process and pinpoint what they should improve, step by step and structure a team work seminar. Great question and very knowledgeable answers. Thanks

  8. Pradeep Dubey says:

    Pradeep Dubey
    Senior Manager – Sales and Alliance

    The 1st meeting with the prospect is the most important one in sales process. Other steps follows only after successful 1st meeting

  9. Clive Beesley says:

    Clive Beesley
    Business Development Manager at Gemini Tec Ltd

    Silence! the bit just after I ask for the business – next person to speak loses- love it to bits.

  10. Matt Zimmerman says:

    Matt Zimmerman
    Principal — Prime Sales Solutions Inc.

    It’s at the point you are speaking with someone who meets the BANT objectives and addresses the following:
    Budget- can get the money
    Authority-to make the buying decision
    Need/Pains
    Time frame to purchase

    Once you can uncover theses qualifiers you have a real opportunity

  11. Frank Willemose says:

    Frank Willemoes
    Director – partner at Willemoes Invest Holdings s.a.r.l.
    Its like asking, what is more important, the engine or the wheels of a car?. All steps in the sales process are equally important. That’s why they are there.

    When consulting with clients over the years, I have often been told “My guys can’t close. Teach them that and we’ll be successful.” Actually in most instances the problem was that they did not carefully and qualified go through each step in the sales process.

  12. Andrew Stone says:

    Andrew Stone
    at Fusion Systems Japan
    Exactly. Well put Frank. I was beginning to think I was completely wrong with my earlier comment. It is interesting to see everyones opinion on this though, I asked my team what they thought and their thoughts were, the close, the qualifying,etc. It may be when someone thinks about THEIR most important step or skill it is because it is the thing they do well/poorly. It is easy to see what part of the process people are not good at, and as a result it is easy to work with them on it.

  13. Dick Olenych says:

    Dick Olenych
    WAS – Writer, Author, Speaker

    Hi Shirleen,

    Building trust, of course.

    Cheers
    Dick

  14. Becky Guillory says:

    Becky Guillory
    President, Bungalow4sale; Principal at Kris and Company Sales Training & Consulting Toplinked.com

    Interesting point that Andrew brings up – how few sales organizations have a “definable process”. Below are some Example of what a “step in a sales process would be: These are not nearly all, nor may they be the “words” you use, but if you cannot identify at least 6mor more steps in your sales process, you probably don’t have one.

    1. I dentifying target market
    2. Qualifcation of Suspect
    3. Problem identification
    4. Solution / resolution
    5. Agreement
    6. Confirmation

  15. Nicole Voigtman says:

    Nicole Voigtman
    Sales and Process Improvement Executive

    Shirleen, I think all the steps are important, but the most important to me is qualifying the lead. Is this the right lead for you? If the person has the need that you can fill and can purchase it, it may be qualified. If the lead isn’t qualified you can spend much time with no sales. Then you just wasted all your time and the prospects time.

    Nicole Voigtman

  16. Tim Zenchak says:

    Tim Zenchak
    at Landslide Technologies

    Great question. The obvious answer is having the customer sign the agreement, but that does not happen unless you discover the need(s). Listening and asking questions is very important – and it also helps to build rapport. Rapport leads to trust and then a relationship for future business. That being said, it all starts with listening.

  17. Mark Williams says:

    Mark Williams
    indpendent Sales rep selling energy efficient lighting

    This depends on the type of sales we do.

    For the most part people buy from people they like. Although discovery is very important if a relationship is not developed all other points are mute. If we are selling in a repeat business environment a solid relationship will give us the repeat business we desire.

    On the other hand if we are selling in a non repeat business environment some sort of relationship needs to be developed however I think discovery is the key. Does the customer qualify, what are their wants, needs, desires etc.

    I do not believe one answer fits all in this case.

  18. Michael Mesiha says:

    Michael Messiha
    Channel Sales Manager at Oracle, MEA

    Many people are good at opening business but not that many are good at closing it. I think the CLOSE is critical and its where the negotiation starts and the challenge begins.

  19. Shirleen Von Hoffmann says:

    I love all of the great comments and conversation. That is what being passionate about Sales is all about.

    Here are my two cents…

    I believe that RTR (Rapport, Trust and Respect) is the most important part of a sale. Knowing all steps are needed, these are the things I think are most important.

    It has been proven that achieving RTR can be 70% of the reason people “BUY”. Once you have it, you can lead the sale, ask any questions and closing should be a breeze!

  20. Harlan Goerger says:

    Harlan Goerger
    President, H. Goerger & Associates

    I like the idea of getting the check, its why we do what we do. The problem is, how do we get there. Shotgunning because everyone is a prospect is a total waste of both parties time and resources. Walter says it well, nothing can start until the suspect is qualified in some form. Once qualified then everything else kicks in.

    Steve does have a great point, even when a qualified prospect changes the rules after the signing it is hopefully a small percentage that do this, but it does happen. Is asking for the order and getting the check important, absolutely, yet how do you get there when your time is used up chasing unqualified suspects?

    Great conversation!

  21. Steve Weltman says:

    Steve Weltman
    CEO at Absolute Networks

    @Harlan: When the client flakes (as MANY small enterprise owners will, at the wiff of anything less expensive) you need to re-assert your self as a critical business partner who experiences risk and reward equally with the client and your recommendations…That is a re-qualification. If a BDM still flakes, you know you must let them know (if possible) that you have strongly reconsidered all of the options and do not believe that you’ve done anything to precipitate this, however you no longer find it equitable in doing business with them over this issue, and you are not in business to loose money. That is positioning. You want respect? Tell them that they are acting badly, however, do it with class and don’t take it personally. Do NOT react. Respond with kindness. You’re already prepared to leave, why not tell the decision maker they are acting unbusiness-like?

    All you’ve just done is re-qualify a client and found out whether they are playing ball or not. No matter how ‘good’ you are, some owners or decisionmakers just don’t get it. It’s time to find another paying opportunity…and don’t feel bad for doing so.

    @Walter: If you want to be in the boardroom, you of course explicitly need to offermore value than your competitors (know your client’s needs and appetite for risks and changes). The better you study their management styles, their company’s partners and become a value source for their needs OUTSIDE of this sale, you’ll get mindshare more than others.

    It’s part of the sales cycle (qualification) so you knew some just wouldn’t qualify for what you offer…It just took that guy a whole lot longer to get it. Pay yourself (even if it’s only something small like a sweet Starbucks). You earned this payment. You did not fail to make the sale, your business partner wasn’t up front nor astute in the value proposition you offered his company.

    Just my opinion…Hopefully I have encouraged someone to feel good about their honest hard work that they performed in good faith.

    All the Best!
    Steve Weltman
    CEO, Absolute Networks

  22. Jim Hoogewind says:

    Jim Hoogewind
    Business Development for IT & Web Development Firm

    If we, as salespeople, make the process about money or getting paid, we’ve missed the point. I believe our hope should be to understand our potential clients’ pain & to put their needs & interests ahead of our own. By doing so, everybody wins, because I will quickly find out whether or not that person is qualified to do business with me & by that time I will have won their friendship; if they’re not qualified, than maybe I have someone to whom I can refer them, because I took the time to truly hear their story. And they’ll remember that when they talk about me to their sphere of influence.

  23. Brad Roderick says:

    Brad Roderick
    Executive Vice President at InkCycle, Inc.

    Good comments Jim. I mostly agree with your perspective as I understand it. Absolutely, it all starts with the needs of the potential customer/client and absolutely we have to assess whether they are qualified to do business with us. I do not mean that in an arrogant way – simply that if I cannot bring value to this relationship then there is no real opportunity and if no real opportunity to be of service, then we aren’t qualified to do business together. My small sticking point is the comment on “friendship”. I have a lot of friends. Some of them I would trust with the keys to my car, some with the keys to my house, some with the keys to my business – and its the “trust” factor that I believe salespeople should focus on. People do not do business with people they like (sorry to disillusion the gurus but I’ve been a practicing salesperson for over 20 years), they do business with people they trust! The trust will usually turn into friendship but there are enough people that I do business with that I trust but wouldn’t call them friends that I can make this claim. Yes, I know, I am opening up a can of worms and probably a barrage of emails in disagreement so let me clarify – if you get people to trust you, they will become customers at a much greater rate than if they merely like you.

  24. Jerry Voltero says:

    Jerry Voltero
    Inside Sales at EnterpriseDB
    Depending upon what it is you are selling, that tipping point or step you are referring to can be many things. In my world it’s that moment when you have gone from being just another sales person to someone who has a valuable product or service which is going to solve the prospect’s problem. So in a word Trust. Once they have realized that you have done a great job of showing the value of what you are selling and how that product or service can in fact solve the problem, you have turned the corner and now it’s just a matter of continuing to push the deal on to a successful end, the sale.

  25. David McKenzie says:

    David McKenzie
    Owner, Referral Institute Spokane

    Qualifying the customer. The easiest way I have found to ensure a trouble free sale, holding margin and having a satisfied customer is to take a few extra moments and thoroughly qualify them.

  26. Elizabeth Lampert says:

    Elizabeth Lampert
    President of Company, Public Relations Strategist

    The most important step of the sales process is to ask relevant questions to your prospect. Use the Socratic method when asking questions and a conversational tone. The questions you ask will determine the ´information´ you gather. Ask your questions wisely and then LISTEN.

  27. Walter Wise says:

    Walter Wise
    CEO, BPI Strategy Group and Business Performance Improvement Specialist

    Closing it obviously, but one has to get there first. Picking the right adviser is probably job one, closely followed by determining the proper value to set your expectations.

    Owners typically value their businesses much higher than buyers and generally much higher than the actual worth. So setting the right price is extremely important..

  28. Ken Dailey says:

    Ken Dailey
    Director of Member Services
    I sold insurance for a short time, loved it by the way..it was a one call close. There are many differenct types of selling situations and one approach will not work and a strong selling or “always be closing” can turn off and shut down two way communications. When you get the silence from the other side you have be able to read the person and know when to go back to the warmup phase. I agree that if you communicate effectively and the person across from you has accepted a meeting to discuss your prodduct of service you can and should be honest and ask for the sale. If the answer is no…and you have established a two-way communication…that only means not yet…I dont have enough information and still need to know what it means to me. Selling correctly is simply education. If you can teach others and are assertive and confident…Listening is terriffc…but when dealing with a WalMart buyer who deals with thousands of salespeople a day……you have a short time period to establish a relationship and it is expected that you will present information in a detailed and concise manner. How do you listen but control the conversation?

  29. I believe that it is relationship building. If you cannot develop trust with your prospective buyer, they are not going to open up and tell you what their wants/needs are. Without that bit of information, you can try to go through the “process” all you want. You will be spinning your wheels- If they tell you what they want/ need. You can tailor your presentation to fit that need.
    The old sales path is inneffective in this market. People are smarter than that. That is my opinion anyway. I have had a pretty great year. 🙂
    Hope you have as well!
    Much success!

  30. Valente Martinez says:

    The #1 step is to solve their Problum!

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