Selling is a Process

There are many different sales techniques and sales training methodologies.  There are more “How to Sell” books than there stars in the sky.

How then is a rookie in the sales game suppose to know what to do?  Which selling technique is the most effective?  Over my sales career which has spanned twenty-five plus years and a variety of companies, I can tell you selling as a process.  What do I mean by process?  Just as my colleague Jim Thomson describes a business processes, I will describe the sales process.

A process is defined as a series of activities which when completed result in the creation of value.  The process of selling is simple. The value created is a sale.  Understanding the basic steps will help demystify things for you.  The sales process has three steps.  Those steps are illustrated by the following diagram.

Step one in the sales process is “pain“.  Pain, needs, requirements, all refer to the same thing.  I think pain describes step one the best.  You have to discover the pains your customer is experiencing.  Pain is a feeling.  An emotion.  Your prospect may arrive at their decision to buy  intellectually but will only make a purchase when in an emotional state of mind.

It is your job to put your prospect in the state of mind necessary to make a purchase.  Finding your customer’s pain is how you discover the reasons they will buy from you.

The more pain you discover, the more urgency your prospect will have to make a purchase.  Imagine you are at the doctor’s and your doctor is studying yourXRAY.  Then your doctor asks you if you have ever had a pain in your shoulder.  “I didn’t until you asked me that“.

Then your doctor looks back at your XRAY intensely.  He asks “Does it hurt when you turn your head“?  At that point your heart is pounding and you can’t help but think he will tell you you’re going to die.  At that point I bet you would give anything  to hear you’re OK?

You ask the doctor “What do you see“?  He says “I’m not sure“.  How fast is your heart pounding?  Anxiously you say to the doctor “Can you help me“?  He says “hmmm…I don’t know“.  How do you feel now?

Your next question should be “How do I know when I have the prospect in enough pain to buy?” With experience come the answer.  You will just know when you have discover enough pain.  Expect to lose a few sales because you didn’t discover enough pain points.  Once you discover enough pain you move to the “money” step.

The money step is the easiest step in the sales process to perform.  Either the prospect has money and can spend it or not.  The first questions your prospect needs to answer is “Can you spend the money to fix your pain“?  You will learn when your prospect is in enough pain money becomes less important to them.  Not to say you won’t have to negotiate to close the sale, just their main focus will not be cost.

The final step in the sales process is the “decision“.  Your question needs be “Can you make the decision, to spend the money to fix the pain“?  Again, if your prospect is in enough pain they will not hesitate with making the decision.  Otherwise the customer may say, “I need to think things over“.   A TIO (think it over) is sales speak for a put off.  A buyer either not in enough pain or without the authority to make the decision will try to put you off.

If it to you sounds like you have to manipulate your prospect to get them to buy, no you don’t.  Remember, you can not convince anyone of anything that they don’t believe.  Your job as sales person is to help the prospect discover why they need what you’re selling.

My next post we will take a  closer look at these steps.  I will also expose where pitfalls exist in the process.  I explain how the sales process steps fit together and when the time is right to transition from one to the next.  Remember pain, money, decision.  The three essential steps in the selling process.