A professional salesperson genuinely listens to customers, asks questions and works to meet their needs. They understand the “bigger picture” and the business environment and where both business and customer fit into the equation.
What professional sales people also need to understand is that a lot of the time they’re not just dealing solely with the customer — there are always other important factors impacting the decision making process.
Some customers have a checklist before they enter into a sale. Others don’t know what they need or want and are, therefore, seeking information to aid the decision making process.
Either way, the outcome will be that they have a criterion that needs to be met before they close the deal. It is up to the sales person to know their prospect’s criteria and any other playing factors.
Sales people know that in order to provide the right answers they need to ask their customers the right questions. But they also need to question themselves about their customers.
It’s important to remember not to take what we have at face value and make assumptions. Make the effort and take the time to analyse your current situation and make sure all your bases are covered.
To save energy, our brains tend to ‘assume’. Instead, be proactive.
Put in the extra energy and you will see that your customer responds positively to your approach and willingness to address all their issues, problems, needs and wants.
By not understanding the decisions and factors customers are facing during the buying process, sales people can sabotage deals.
Here are the core areas to address in order to understand your customer’s buying decisions:
Understand the nature of the business you are dealing with
Ask yourself the questions:
- What are the factors involved in my clients business?
- Is it an industry involving a lot of red tape?
- Are there specific policies or rules your client needs to abide by?
When you have answers to these questions you will then know the type of process to expect and suggest ways to make the buying process as simple and seamless for your client as possible.
Don’t assume your point of contact is the only contact
Just because you have one point of contact for a prospective deal it does not mean that is up to him/her to make the final decision.
Sales people need to be aware of who else is involved in the decision making process, who they are and what are their needs and priorities .
Ticking all the boxes and accommodating for everyone’s needs is crucial to sealing the deal.
Offer your contact the opportunity to meet with the other decision makers to address their needs face to face.
Appropriately allocate prospecting time
Be aware that you may have to attend multiple meetings and have several conversations with different people.
Your first point of contact may not always be your last but solely your window to the relevant decision makers.
Feel confident to ask for time frames
Once you have determined all the different factors impacting your clients’ decision making process you will find that there will be several factors that your client will have to address before they can make a final decision.
This can be a lengthy process. Idle prospects in the pipeline can be at risk of going nowhere.
Ask your client if they have an estimate for when they may have a clearer idea of what direction they would like to head in and ensure them that you’re available to help them through any questions they may have during this process.
Don’t bombard prospects with excessive follow ups
No one likes to be hassled, particularly if they assured they will be in touch, organised their time to do so and still they’re constantly “checked in” to see if there has been a result.
Instead, touch base with your prospects when they have said that the outcome is possible.
During the initial follow up make sure you offer any suggestions that might make the process simpler and determine what factors your client is currently facing.
Make note of the details of the conversation and you will be in a better decision to determine the prospecting outcome.
Being aware of all the people and issues involved in a decision making process will not only give you a better chance at achieving results but will also show that you’re a competent and credible sales professional who genuinely understands their clients.
Understanding a client’s position is something that will be greatly appreciated and an attribute that is valued in a business partner.
Sue Barrett is a sales expert, business speaker, adviser, sales facilitator and entrepreneur and founded Barrett Consulting to provide expert sales consulting, sales training, sales coaching and assessments. Visit www.barrett.com.au
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