It’s getting warmer. “Thaw-out” your selling process

As warmer days become more and more frequent, I can’t help but think about all of the opportunities that seasonal companies will have.  Even now, organizations that we help tell us that spring project requests are coming in right now from homeowners and commercial properties.  As a business owner or from a sales perspective, it becomes clear that one needs to get as many of the “right” opportunities as early as possible.  What is the “right” opportunity?  It could be that the size of opportunity fits best with what your organization is good at.  It could be that it is highly profitable.  It could be that you aren’t quoting against multiple companies.  It could be that you didn’t have to discount your services or you’ve realized that payment will not be an issue.  It can even mean that the prospect values your opinion and will not be getting in the way of the progress, so you can be highly efficient on the project, with the ability to move along to the next one quickly.  Wouldn’t it be great if all of our projects went this way?

Unfortunately, most organizations fail when it comes to only working with “winning” scenarios.  They say, “yes” to projects and situations that they shouldn’t.  They see a potential sale slipping away so they do things they shouldn’t, like discount.  They get “happy ears” when they see a potentially large sale, and follow up too frequently or with too much enthusiasm, scaring the prospect away.  Whether you are working on some actual potential business right now, or waiting for opportunities to come in over the next couple months, wouldn’t it make some sense to shore-up your selling process so you can win more, in less time, with the “right” prospects at higher prices?  Let’s “thaw” out that selling process!

If you’ve been in sales any length of time, chances are you’ve heard that it is a good idea to qualify and disqualify.  Not only is it a good idea, you should be a “rock-star” at the process.  It can be what separates you from having a great selling year or not.  To start, have ready some opening statements and questions that help you qualify.  As example, I’ll teach organizations to not only ask, “how did you find our organization?” but, to also find out what it was about it that caused them to call.  If it was because of word of mouth, as example, you could be asking them, “What was it that they said about us that caused you to pick up the phone and call today?”  Whatever they say next is gold.  It tells you immediately what is important to them and will help you qualify them much faster.

Next:  find out answers to important questions.  For instance, what is their budget?  What concerns do they have with this particular project or with hiring a contractor?  Are they aware (earlier the better) that your company is not going to be the lowest bid and are they ok with that?  

Finally:  ask them if they are comfortable if you ask them some additional questions, have any for you and ok with making a decision at the end of the meeting on whether or not they think you are a good fit for each other.  This will help set up the ending of the meeting properly so it will be more likely to “close”.  And, if done properly, both parties walk away with a firm understanding of next steps, instead of endless follow-ups.  Note:  good sales questions are always about them and their buying process.  “Logistical” questions are not sales questions, necessarily.  What they want you to build, how large the lot is, what types of plant material they want to put in and even where they are located, are examples of logistical questions.  They are necessary to do the project, but knowing the answers to these types of questions doesn’t necessarily get you closer to a sale.

A good sales process should have a beginning, a middle and an end.  It should be consistent and go in the same direction consistently.  It should include a set-up process, including how much time you will spend together, an understanding of agenda items and outcomes you mutually agree upon.  It should include a small amount of information in the middle, but not too much, to avoid unpaid consulting.  It should also include a conclusion where you mutually arrive at a point that either you are a good fit, or not.

So, get out your sales process, make sure it has all of the components to make it successful and make sure you sound like a “rock-star” when delivering it.  All indications show that 2017 will be another terrific year for most businesses, particularly in Michigan (fingers crossed!).  Hone your craft as spring quickly approaches; and you’ll find yourself with more wins, fewer losses and more projects that you’ll be glad you said “yes” to.