Event Recap: Sales Success for Early Stage Businesses
What is the main reason early stage businesses don’t succeed? It’s not because of lack of time, effort or money. You may have a great idea that solves a problem that many people have, but your business will fail if it doesn’t have one important thing: Sales.
Lewis VanLandingham, owner of Sandler Training by Sharper Edge Advantage, presented “Sales Success for Early Stage Businesses” at Innovate New Albany on November 13. The presentation was part of Innovate New Albany’s TIGER Talks luncheon series, which educates business owners on topics of Technology, Innovation, Growth, Entrepreneurship, and Responsibility. TIGER talks provide attendees with information, resources and advice to “earn their stripes” towards starting and running a successful business.
Lewis began the presentation by asking the group about their biggest challenges in sales, then outlined the typical steps that occur in the sales process and the buyer’s process.
During a cold call, a seller attempts to qualify the buyer’s interest, determine the pain points, present the products or services, and closes.
All the while, the buyer may be resistant to the pitch, withhold information about their interest, gather examples before they are ready to buy, and may leverage the seller against the competition.
Lewis refers to this process as the “buyer-seller dance.”
Recognizing the buyer-seller dance will put you one step closer to solving the problem. To make your sales interactions more meaningful, Lewis encouraged the group to use the 7 Step Sandler Selling System:
Step 1: Pattern Interrupt. This is how you differentiate yourself from other sales people in your approach and communication. For example, instead of leading a call with a rehearsed introduction, begin by asking for two minutes of the buyer’s time, after which the buyer can decide if the call will continue. Most buyers are willing to listen when presented with this open approach.
Step 2: Ground Rules. Set agreements upfront that help you and the buyer understand each other’s agendas, and the potential outcomes of the conversation. An agreement is a two-way street where both parties are on equal stature.
Step 3: Pain. What is the buyer’s compelling reason to take action? As the seller, you need to ask detailed questions to determine what the underlying problem is before you can offer a solution to it. You will sell more effectively and efficiently when you understand the buyer’s needs.
Step 4: Budget. You will need to know early on what resources the buyer has, and if they are willing to invest the time, energy and money to solve their problem. If they’re not, it may not be worth your time to put a proposal together.
Step 5: Understand Their Decision Making Process. Who is the ultimate decision maker? Who else will be impacted by what you have to sell, that may have input into the product or service selection? Reassure the buyer that you understand others may have to be consulted.
Step 6: Present. Show how your product or service solves their problem. Always speak to at least their top two pain points, and close your sale.
Step 7: Post-Sell. This is the follow-up step if the buyer puts the process on hold. Ask more questions, and make the solutions about them and their pain points. Firm up the commitment, and have the buyer sell you.
Selling is a process of qualifying your customers by disqualifying some of them. Even if a lead doesn’t turn into a customer right away, the lead could become a referral source over time, or a customer at some point in the future. Adapt your message to the customer’s needs. Most importantly, have a system, know it and own it.
If you’d like more information that expands further on this TIGER Talk, sign up for Lewis’s newsletter and receive a free copy of “Why Salespeople Fail… And What You Can Do About It.”
Lewis regularly speaks to groups around central Ohio on business topics and sales success. To learn more about how Lewis could help you grow your business or to find out about other upcoming opportunities to attend a workshop or seminar Lewis will be leading, email him at email@example.com or call 614-440-0383.
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