This is one of the toughest and crucial process in the sales cycle as explained by Brian Tracy in his book, Advanced Selling Strategies.
Many salespeople struggling to close sales when what they focus is not a selling problem, but rather is a prospecting problem. Prospecting is a sales process to mold your sales character in your quest to be a sales superstar in the future.
According to Brian Tracy, the better you think, the more sales you will make. Better thinking begins by asking and answering better questions. So, what are the questions should we ask?
What Do I sell?
What is the difference between the amateur and the superior salesperson?
The amateur tends to respond in terms of the qualities, characteristics, and fractures of the product or service. They focus on what the product or service “is.” They repeat the specifications and descriptions of the product or service contained in their brochures and other sales literature.Bryan Tracy
The professional, they will focus on the specific problem or goals of the prospect and show how the product or service enables him to get what he really wants with the lowest risk and the highest return.Bryan Tracy
As we discussed before, the professional will talk about the end result, what emerges from the pipeline, rather than getting bogged down in the details of how the product is created, produced, and delivered.
The problem with us as a salesperson, we always get involved in our product or service that we see it through our own eyes and then try to impose that vision on our customer.
Who Is My Customer?
The second question in strategic prospecting follows from the first. It is, Who exactly is my customer? Who is my ideal customer? Think back over the people who have purchased your product or service in the past and ask yourself,
” What do my customers have in common?
Now it’s time for us to compile an important data from our customer. We need to ask specific question. For example:
- Is our ideal customer male or female?
- What age is our customer?
- What is our customer’s education background?
- What is our customer’s level of experience with our product and service?
- Is our ideal customer is first time buyer or has he purchased our product in the past?
- What is our customer’s occupation?Income range?Family situation?Type of personality?
- Position or level of authority -decision making
In the other words, we need to do some demographic analysis in order to understand our customer purchasing behavior.
Why Does My Customer Buy?
This is the most important question in selling. Are we selling tangible or intangible product?. The intangible benefits are the real reasons the customer buys from us.
The intangible benefits are largely emotional
When you buy a Rolex watch or Phatek Phillip watch, you don’t talk about their features. We talk about the feeling of success, prestige and social status that come together with the brand name.
In his book, Brian Tracy have identified a simple analysis that called “3-3-3 analysis”. These analysis consists of three answers to each of three questions flowing from the prospecting question we’ve just discussed
Look. These are not easy questions. If we fail to answers very well, we are going to have a hard time selling our product or service no matter how good it is.
Discuss and review the answer with manager or team leader. Remember, accuracy in this exercise is vitally important to the whole process of prospecting.
Where Is My Prospect?
As a salesman, your primary responsibility is to sell as much of your product or service as you possibly can. To do this, we must identify the exact location of our prospects so that you can better focus your sales efforts. Don’t put your hard work haphazardly. We don’t have all the time in the world.
Bryan Tracy explained in his book that, in determining where your prospect are, we can look at our territory both vertically and horizontally. Vertically would mean tall office buildings within which you may have a series of prospects. Viewing our market horizontally refers to its being spread out over wide area, covering a few blocks, a few states or even a few countries depending upon what you sell.
Territory management is essential skill that every salesperson should have. Otherwise, they will spend their limited resources to the less lucrative activities. In this fast moving world, executive time of every salesperson is very expensive to be spent for nothing.
When Does My Customer Buy?
This is the next crucial question in effective prospecting.
When does your customer buy?
Does he buy a year in advance based on budget projections?
Does he buy on seasonal basis?
Does he buy throughout the year as as his need dictate?
To answer these questions, we must have a very good customer track record of all our customer. In service industry like hygiene and pest control services, customer will hire us on contractual basis. Monthly, fortnightly or weekly services for at least one year contract. If our team fail to monitor contract renewal process, we will definitely lose the contract to our competitors. In this scenario, three months before the contract expiry, our team must play their role to ensure the contract will be renewed for another one or two years period.
Customer Relationship Management could be the best answer for this question. Unfortunately, not all SME’s company could afford to have this system. Hence, agility of sales team especially customer service is vital important.
Why Doesn’t Customer Buy?
Customer are funny. They have reasons of buying and reasons for not buying. It’s essential that you master all the reasons that a customer should buy and include it in your presentation. My experience in service industry shows that most of the complaints come from dissatisfaction of service delivered. What should we do?. We must ensure sales and operations are moving parallel towards customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.
There are several mistakes that will hinder our prospects or existing customer to buy from us:
- Failure to follow our buying process. Not understanding who the decision makers are. Failing to understand my business.
- Failure to listen to my needs. Not effectively relating what you’re selling to what I need to buy. Failing to explain solutions adequately.
- Failure to follow up. Not focusing on after-sale service. We want salespeople who will follow through without having to be prodded.
- Acting pushy/aggressive. Fast-talking or fast-selling; pushing too hard for a sale. Customers are turned off by salespeople who care more about their commissions than trying to help a customer solve a problem.
- Failure to explain solutions adequately. Inability to answer all questions. Making exaggerated claims.
- Tendency to call too often. Harassing customers.
- Lack of preparation. Customers don’t like salespeople who waste time by calling without clear purposes.
Who Is My Competitor?
Who is my competitor?
Who am I selling against?
Who does my customer consider as an alternative to my products or services?
When I lose a sale to competitor, why doesn’t it happen?
Why does a prospect select from my competitor, a competing product or service, over mine?
What does he or she perceive to be different and better?
If we can give a specific answer to all these questions, we are in control over our competitors.
Here is a strategy for us. If you lose a sale to competitor, wait for three or four weeks and then go back to the customer and very politely ask him why it was he chose your competitor over yourself.Be low key, polite, and curious.
Customer is King. They may not always right. The customer make his decision based on his perception of what is best for him. Your job is to show your prospect that there may be more than one version of what is best for him.
You must show your prospect that there are other areas of importance to consider. Your job is to shift the emphasis of the decision on to the areas where your product or service to that of your competitors.
What we need to do is to position ourselves as the best choice, given all the various factors involved in the overall buying decision .
Brian Tracy;Advanced Selling Strategy