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About This Episode
As distracting as that new technology might seem, the fundamentals of sales haven’t changed.
Not only are the fundamentals the same 5 they’ve always been, they’re arguably more important now to help cut through all the distractions that beset sales professionals.
Like so many of us in sales, Mike’s road to sales was varied — and started with cold-calling 100 people in 45 minutes to raise $15 for the local firefighters association.
We live in a noisy world full of sales advice and shiny new objects to chase. “A stripped-down level of sales is a five-step process,” Mike said.
In brief, here they are:
- Identify and engage prospects
- Conduct a thorough discovery meeting
- Pitch to them
- Service and retention
Let’s dive into each fundamental one by one.
1 — Identify
The first step is critical and the same across all the different sales disciplines. “Unless you’re in a brand new startup without any idea who your customer might even be, there’s some model of who would be most likely to buy you,” Mike said.
Dive into your ideal client profile (ICP) to make sure you clearly understand who’s most likely to do business with you? “A lot of salespeople haven’t taken the time to get a crystal clear vision of who that best customer is,” Mike pointed out.
Start out by doing really basic research, then get increasingly specific.
A mistake is to try to sell something to everyone. “Everyone’s not an ideal customer,” he said.
2 — Discovery
Have a core set of questions that you take with you into the initial meeting. “You need to uncover in this discovery meeting a mutually agreed upon need to keep being mutually agreed upon,” Mike said.
Don’t fill in the blanks, either. Make sure you lay it out specifically: “If you leave with an idea that a customer wants something, let’s make sure that they agree that they want the same thing and they’re willing to pay for it.”
Some bullet points of musts during discovery:
- Customer’s needs
- Decision making process
- Goals timeline
- Decision timeline
- Appointment to present solution
Overall, you need to ascertain that they need what you offer, and afterwards you have to talk some numbers (how many? how much? when?).
But don’t use a script. “In an ideal world, you develop your skill set so that you can be conversational around your questions, like we’re doing in a conversation,” Mike said.
3 — Pitch meeting
This is arguably one of the most important parts. A good sales presentation remembers that consumers are overloaded with information.
“What they’re looking for from us as sales professionals is an easier or more confident way to make a decision between all of the various things that they’re getting fed,” Mike said. “People move from interest to buying based on their confidence that you understand the nuance that they’re trying to solve.”
You, not your product or service, are the best solution for them.
First, help them see that you’ve got a viable solution to their problem. Then, sell the intangibles (you’ll be there when they need you, your company’s reputation, the most specific or personalized technologies, etc.).
“If you intimately understand their business, their goals, and their objectives, you’ve set yourself apart from 50 to 75% of the people that are competing with you to sell to them,” Mike said. “Ultimately, your client wants to know that you’re a resource and a partner and of value, not a vendor.”
4 — Closing a deal
As you’re ending a pitch, find out what will happen next for the client after you leave.
“Each of those answers that you get, try to probe a little deeper and gain a little more clarity. And then before I left, I’d repeat back to them,” Mike said.
An example: Scott, let me make sure I understand before I leave. You’ve got a committee that you’re going to meet with. You need me to send you the three things that you need to tell them. It generally takes a week and a half for them to make a decision. You feel like you’ve got the budget, you’re in our corner, and barring any unforeseen difficulties, you can’t envision this not closing two weeks from today. Is that a fair summation of where we are?
5 — Retention
Make sure that you’re treating your customers as people — as friends. Find out how you could help them do something they’ve always dreamed about.
“Help them get that trip, remember that their last kid’s graduating from high school this year, or send them a thoughtful gift,” Mike said. “Human things that your best friends would appreciate if you did.”
On the business side, keep them informed about cocktail gossip — basically, what’s new in your organization. Remember their goals? Think about how to help them win.
So, there’s nothing worse than only hearing from your customer success person when it’s renewal time. You should have such a good relationship that you don’t even have to make that call.
Mike’s 3 takeaways
The top 3 memorable things from this conversation have to do with people, people, and people.
- If you’re in sales, remember that you’re dealing with people. Treat your prospects and your clients like your friends (because they are).
- Obsess over the fundamentals. Get great at telling stories and using analogies and metaphors in your pitch meetings.
- If you’re in a position to help facilitate a broadening of opportunities to other genders and other ethnicities, take advantage of that. Bring new people into the circle. It’s enriching for everyone.
Reach out to Mike on LinkedIn to keep this conversation about fundamentals going.