Business Success Starts With a Sale
No process improvement, quality control program, financial report, or employee satisfaction survey can start without the sale of a product or service. Business of any kind cannot exist without a sale. Young entrepreneurs and people starting business quickly learn this lesson and, unless they successfully master this skill, will not succeed.
Salesmanship in the 20th century was all about product knowledge, personality and persuasion. In the 21st century, the buy has a lesser need for that traditional method of selling. An article in a recent issue of the Harvard Business Review, Teaching Selling states, “In the realm of selling, it’s the buyer who is newly empowered. Customers no longer need a salesman to know about a company’s offerings, much less to place an order. As a result, sales has become more about helping customers define the problem they are trying to solve and assemble the complete solution.” Saying that a salesperson is a problem solver is quite a radical departure from their historical role, but a problem solver alone does not get the reward of the order unless other factors are involved.
A successful salesperson in the 21st century will need to combine their knowledge, understanding and skills to capture the business. They must have a thorough knowledge of their product or service, their competition, and their potential customer’s needs. Furthermore, they need to understand how their product or service will satisfy the needs of their potential client. In today’s rapidly developing technology world, they must know how to develop wants in the customer’s mind. Wants are learned needs. Helping a customer understand potential wants is part of educating. Most importantly, they must maintain their customer’s respect and become a trusted partner in the buying decision.
When training new sales people, we find them often surprised by learning there is a natural progression in the sales process. They had been plucked out of their previous role in the organization and anointed a salesperson with the expectation their interpersonal skill will lead them to success. They soon experience the rejection associated with the unsuccessful sales call and believe that relying on luck as the only answer.
There is much to be understood in the field of selling or should we say, “assisting a customer with the buying process”. There is the exercise of prospecting to find potential customers. How do you get appointments and overcome objections needs to be understood. The progressive steps in the sales process include:
- The Introduction
- Gaining Favorable Attention
- Discovering Wants and Needs
- Presenting Benefits and Consequences
- Gaining Commitment