The core reason you are in business is sales. You have no business if you have no sales.

The sales person will dictate whether a customer decides to buy or not, no matter how good your marketing is. The person doing the actual selling is often not a sales person but has drifted into the role. Good training for your sales people is vital.

A sales person should follow the Seven Steps of the Sale.

Seven Steps

  1. Planning & Preparation
  2. Introduction
  3. Questioning
  4. Presentation
  5. Overcoming Objections
  6. Close
  7. After-Sales Follow-Up

Step 1. Planning & Preparation

  • Know your own product well. Above all know the features and benefits that will be relevant to the prospect;
  • Ensure you have a thorough knowledge of what others are able and likely to offer. Furthermore, find out which ones are being considered if you can;
  • Prepare your opening statements and practice your sales pitch. Also, use the format in which you are to give the presentation (e.g. MS PowerPoint);
  • Make sure all your samples, handouts or brochures, are easily accessible. Enure you put them in the order that you are going to use them;
  • Think hard about what you want to get from the meeting and arrange your plan to achieve it.

Step 2. Introduction

  • Smile — be professional, and take heart from the fact that you are well prepared;
  • Introduce yourself and the company you work for. Set the scene and explain the purpose of your visit;
  • You should ask if it’s okay to start by asking a few questions. Furthermore you might also ask whether they would prefer a quick review of your own company first.

Step 3. Questioning

The main purpose of asking questions is to find out if there is a match between the products or services that you can supply and the needs of your prospect. First of all you can build relationships. Furthermore you can create trust and rapport through good questions. No-one wants to buy from you if you are only interested in your own product or company. We all want to buy from someone who gives the time and skill to meeting our own personal needs.

Use open questions to gather facts — for example, questions beginning with Who, What, Why, Where, When, How?

You must listen carefully and maintain good eye-contact. This is so you can show that you understand what they are saying. It is especially important to understand what they feel and mean, not just what they say. Finally, when you’ve asked a question, SHUT UP. Do not interrupt; you have two ears and one mouth. Use them in those proportions.

Step 4. Presentation

Your sales pitch should focus on what your products and services can do for the customer. You will have found out from the questions what those needs are and therefore can describe how what you have to offer can meet those needs to the benefit of the customer.

You also need to talk about price at this stage. Always tell the customer what the price is but don’t stop and wait for a response, this is because it is likely to be negative if you do. Instead sandwich the price between benefits.

All sales presentations must be well structured. Make them clear and concise. Deliver them professionally and have lots of integrity. The customer will regard the quality and integrity of the presentation as a direct indication as to the quality and integrity of the product/service.

Keep control of the presentation, but do so in a relaxed way. Don’t waffle if you don’t know the answer to a question. Say you don’t know and promise to get back with an answer later, and make sure you do.

Let your personality and natural enthusiasm shine through. People buy from people who love and have faith in their products and companies.

Step 5. Overcoming Objections

Objections are a reality of the sales process. Sometimes they arise as part of the buying strategy and sometimes because of the lack of information provided by the sales person.

Objections are also sometimes a buying signal. Qualify each objection one by one and if needed dig a little deeper because you need to find the real objection. You can only hope to overcome the objection once you have isolated it.

Avoid head-to-head arguments because you will destroy the relationship and lose the sale whether you win the argument or not.

Step 6. Close

Your aim should be to prepare and conduct the selling process so well that there are few if any objections, and therefore not really any need for a specific close.

The best close is something like — Are you happy that we’ve covered everything and would you like to go ahead? or it might simply be — Would you like to go ahead?

The prospect will very often close the deal himself if the sales person conducts the sale properly. You should be ready to ask for the order. There is absolutely no point in not doing so — after all that is what your aim was in the first place and you have nothing to lose.

Step 7. Follow-Up

After-sales follow-up depends on the type of product or service, and the internal control processes of both the supplier and the customer. Having done the hard work of getting the order, it is essential that you carry out this house-keeping well.

The customer needs the sales person to make follow-up contact as often as needed. This is to confirm that the customer is happy with the way the order is being progressed or is complete. This helps reduce confusion and misunderstood expectations, which are a big cause of customer dissatisfaction if left unresolved.

Customers rightly hold sales people responsible for what happens after the sale. It therefore follows you will usually be rewarded with repeat orders and referrals to other customers.