Well, virtually. Every project past, present or future – with very few exceptions.
It begins with a sale. Someone wanted something that your business happens to do. And before it became a real project a deal was closed to provide specific products and services for an agreed upon set of terms. Not many sales leading to a project happen without some work between client and salesperson.
This blog is about making sales in the SmartHome and SmartOffice integration services business. It’s essential to success, profitability, growth and happy clients. Over the next few months we plan to cover each of several important aspects of making a sale. And more important we welcome your take on how you think each sales step is best done because you probably been doing sales successfully for a long time and know why. Your contribution will make a difference. If you are not a veteran at sales then maybe there will be some things in this blog that will give you the ideas you need to make your sales easier, more successful and more rewarding.
What will we be discussing? Topics about sales that we plan to cover are sales process, qualifying, discovery/questioning, trial closes, proposals, negotiating and the close. A few of these might be a lot more interesting to you than others but as long as you get value from any part of this blog everyone is a winner!
The Sales Process
Many people in sales are said to be naturals. They just seem to be able to do everything right and close the deals. Others are definitely not naturals and have to work a lot harder to be successful.
The truth is even for those that seem to be naturals, there is a process behind the scenes they follow on each new opportunity. Maybe their natural talent makes it work better or easier but there almost certainly is a process. And, for the rest of us a process is a welcome structure that helps know where we are going and stay on the case until the deal is closed.
Some folks are disdainful of process. It does sound pretty dull.
Lewis Caroll who wrote Alice in Wonderland said “If you don’t know where you are going then any road will get you there.” That pretty much describes life in sales without a process. You are on a road with no idea where it’s going to take you. Not a good formula for success. And even if you do experience some success you have no idea how you did it.
You might have gotten a process from a manager or mentor, or from a sales course. More likely you have started with any one of these and over time modified it as you learned and succeeded (or failed). You have made it your own process because it works for you and makes you successful.
Process is nothing more than an outline of how you plan to work to get from where you are to a successful completion – in this case a closed project with a client. Or, it’s a formula. Having been in sales for a lot of years I think of it as a roadmap that shows where you started, where you intend to end up and all the planned stops in between. When the client has taken you off your intended trajectory this map will help you get out of the wilderness and back on the right road. If in the middle of a sale with a client you find out you are not where you intended to be, the map helps you locate where you are now, where you want to be and the way to get back on that road that leads to success.
A real goal for any of us in sales is to make our sales methodology (process):
‘Successful’ goes without any need for comment. ‘Repeatable’ means that you can apply it in each situation instead of having to endlessly reinvent and suffer the mistakes that inevitably will occur. ‘Scalable’ means that as your business becomes more successful you can actually help it grow faster by managing many more simultaneous sales. Or, maybe leverage business by hiring more salespeople to carry an increasing number of opportunities and give those new salespeople a process that will work for them too.
Some of you who have been selling for a while already know you have a process. And can even write down a description of it in some detail.
Some of you are successful and think you don’t have a process but you probably actually do. You just never stopped to consider it.
And the rest of you are probably rather new in sales and looking to find a process that works for you. This blog might provide something for everyone no matter which category you are in.
If you are in the first group maybe you can improve your process. If you find you are in the second group this blog may help you recognize that you do have a process and understand what it is a bit better so you can control it. And if you are in the third group I hope we will provide some pieces that will help you to build your own personal successful process for future success.
If you are thinking maybe there is some value to process then the next installment in this blog will begin with an early step in the process-qualification.