Here I go talking about sales again – I can’t help it. This may sound obvious, but knowing what the ‘best sales strategies’ are is crucial to long-term success. Selling technical products or processes demands a clear understanding of how people make purchase decisions. Many ‘sales strategies’ focus, primarily, on the selling side of the process. Recruiting the right sales executives has a huge impact on results. Those execs know how to help decision-makers and decision-influencers to advance the sale.
How People Make Purchase Decisions
The way you buy a can of beans is not the same as the way you buy a new automobile. One decision is quick, low cost, low risk, and easily correctable – and forgettable. The other is much less so. Making an expensive decision or a decision that will have long-term consequences (good or bad) takes time, thought and a level of personal commitment or emotional involvement.
Successful sales executives know this, and they help their prospects to follow steps that will lead to a sound decision. That builds confidence and that, in turn, encourages the client to repeat the process. The result is continued sales.
The Steps They Take
There are 4 main steps in a technical, expensive, consequential purchase – for it to be a good one.
1) Realize the Need. If it’s not needed, it doesn’t matter how great the sales presentation is, how attractive the price is or how effective the support team is, if it’s not needed it won’t get bought. Circumstances and operating conditions change over time. Small changes can be accommodated, imperfections coped with, inefficiencies accepted. But there comes a time when the need to change becomes clear.
A successful sales strategy begins with understanding, and that is where the ‘S’ and the ‘P’ (Situation, Problem) in SPIN Selling applies. This helps the prospect to recognize that needs exist. If the need is not great enough, nothing further is likely to happen.
This is where the ‘I’ (Implication of not solving the problem or addressing the need) in SPIN Selling comes in. By uncovering needs, and helping the prospect to understand the need, and the likely results of not addressing the needs, encourages the prospect to move on to Step 2.
2) Evaluate Options. There are always options:-
- Do nothing
- Investigate further to see what else may be lurking under the surface
- Bring together a team of experts to consider possible solutions to the needs
- Compare different solutions to solving the problems and meeting the needs
These are all options. This is where the successful sales professional works with the prospect to compare solutions on offer, and to move on to Step 3
3) Handle Concerns. Deciding that Solution A is better than Solution B, and which of those is better than doing nothing, minimizes the risk of coping with the long-term consequences of making a poor decision. The negotiation begins! This leads, inevitably, to Step 4
4) Decide and Implement. Need-payoff (the ‘N’ in SPIN) results in the contract being signed, and the implementation planned.
The sales strategy continues with ensuring that the client’s expectations are met, so trust builds, the relationship grows and the next sale becomes more of a slam-dunk.
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