Where Sales Trainers and Selling Experts share advice, tips, and techniques on how to become a sales champion!

Seven Steps to Successful Selling – By Bill Lee


1. Prospecting breeds activity. Regardless of the number of existing customers you happen to have, prospecting is basic to selling. It’s not always the potential for new business that makes prospecting such an important activity, but the competitive information you are able to collect in the process.

As you prospect, keep your eyes open for new and innovative ideas that are working for the prospect. You never know what useful idea you’ll stumble across when visiting a prospect you’re unfamiliar with. It may be a new technique he or she is using, an innovative method of marketing or a new product application. If it’s working for one of your prospects, odds are it will work for your customers, too.

2. Selling is a process. As basic as asking for the order is to selling, asking for an order is not an end in itself. Neither is asking for an opportunity to quote. Sometimes asking for an order works, but it’s usually something you must earn the right to do. So think of selling as a process.

While attending a sales seminar presented by Greensboro, NC-based Bill Brooks, I learned a new selling system that uses the acronym I.M.P.A.C.T.

Investigate: Do your homework before making a prospect call.

Meet: After collecting information about the prospect, it’s time to Meet him.

Probe: Don’t begin selling right away, first Probe for insights into the customers needs, his most pressing problems, etc.

Apply: Find solutions to your prospects most pressing business problems and share them with him or her. Apply your personal knowledge to the pressing issues your prospects are facing.

Convince: Now and only now, at this particular stage in the selling process is it time to begin selling, so don’t jump the gun.

Tie it up: Close the sale, ask for the order. When you’ve successfully completed each step in the IMPACT process, the close is almost automatic.

3. Selling is communication. All my life I have seen salespeople portrayed as fast-talking, back-slapping, Mr. Personality types. Even though the image of salespeople has changed a lot over the years, most salespeople still to do a better job of talking than listening.

To communicate more effectively, a salesperson must first ask the prospect enough appropriate questions and listen well enough to how the prospect answers to clearly understand his or her wants and needs. Only then are you in a position to prescribe solutions.

This reminds me of a cute statement I heard once in a sales seminar I attended: Prescribing a solution to a customer problem before proper diagnosis is malpractice.

There is a lot more to selling than quoting.

4. Closing is the heart of the sale. Closing is automatic when the preliminary steps are successfully implemented. Don’t get closing in 2006 confused with some of the trick closes many of us were taught in the ’50’s and ’60’s.

Don’t get me wrong, all professional salespeople should be aware of the Ben Franklin close, the puppy-dog close, the assumptive close, etc., and how and when to use them, but canned closes are no substitute for earning the right to a prospect’s business.

5. You have no competition. Your competitors may all sell similar products to those you sell, they may all have similar delivery services, computerized billing, etc., but the one thing they don’t have is you. If you work as hard on you as you work on your job, you are all you need to differentiate you and your company from the competition.

Make a list of ten benefits customers receive when they do business with you that they don’t get when they do business with the competition. If you can’t list ten, you’re likely to be a slave to price objections until you develop a set of unique capabilities.

6. You get by giving. What goes around comes around. Serve your customers and prospects until they buy or die. A prospect simply cannot say no indefinitely to a highly professional consultative salesperson.

7. Only successful people succeed in sales. Success is in the eye of the beholder. An annual income of $100,000 may represent a distant dream to one salesperson and a pay cut to another. Some of the highest paid people in the world are salespeople; yet there are salespeople in every town who are starving to death.

To succeed in sales you must be a winner. You may get knocked down, but you must be resilient enough to get back up and learn from your mistakes. Great salespeople have learned that selling is a lot more than quoting every prospect you meet.
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Bill Lee is author of Gross Margin: 26 Factors Affecting Your Bottom Line ($29.95) and 30 Ways Managers Shoot Themselves in the Foot ($21.95) plus $6 S&H for the first book and $1 for each book thereafter. Visit BillLeeOnLine.com

Josh’s Thoughts:

I’d like to call attention to a few points in the above article. For starters…

“Probe: Don’t begin selling right away, first Probe for insights into the customers needs, his most pressing problems, etc.”

It’s amazing how many salespeople tend to move right into spouting off all the reasons why they feel their prospect must buy from them, without first taking the time to understand exactly what it is that the other person needs or wants from the product or service. Even if the remote possibility exists that they do know what’s best for the client (notice I said remote possibility) the client doesn’t get the feeling that they are truly being heard. We all want to be a part of the process. Remember, effective selling is something you do with someone, not to someone.

I think this also fits in with the point Bill makes in:

“5. You have no competition. Your competitors may all sell similar products to those you sell, they may all have similar delivery services, computerized billing, etc., but the one thing they don’t have is you.”

If you make a point of truly identifying the needs of your prospects you’re going to naturally build rapport, and in turn become viewed as a trusted advisor as opposed to someone who is simply out to “sell them something”.

Any thoughts you’d like to add?

— To your selling success, Josh Hinds