Have you ever reached the end of a sales call and asked yourself, “Where do I go from here?”
It has been my experience as a sales professional, collegiate sales instructor/coach, and corporate sales trainer that most salespeople do not recognize the four distinct destinations of a sales conversation. You want to reach one of the destinations; the others are dead ends.
So, what are they?
The Order: Think of paradise; everyone has heard of it and we all want to get there. In sales, this is what we are all aiming to achieve; a prospect’s commitment to do business with us.
The No Sale: Do your ears perk up when I say, “Department of Motor Vehicles?” I didn’t think so. I don’t see anyone breaking their back to get to the D.M.V., but we all know that we will have to go sooner or later. In sales, no one closes every deal; all of us must learn how to manage and mitigate rejection.
The Continuation: Have you ever been at your local watering hole, gotten someone’s number (or given them yours) and was unsure if or when you should contact them? This ‘awkward situation’ resembles sales continuations. Sometimes we leave meetings or end phone calls unsure of what the next step should be. This is a destination that is very popular and also very dangerous; we want to avoid this destination at all costs.
The Advance: In pursuit of the tropical paradise (the order), we have to make stops along the way. Sometimes, these ‘stops’ are the best part of the trip! Some salespeople give up at these stopping points, thinking that they have been rejected. Other salespeople leave a prospect’s office without a clear sense of direction (continuation). Getting the advance is critical to your sales success; you must understand how to move a sale forward.
So how do we advance the sale?
The Sales Journey
Ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step.” Your knee-jerk response to this insight may sound like, “Wow! My sales process is a journey… cool!” Well, I am here to tell you that you are only halfway to understanding the journey. Let’s take a more empathetic approach to this journey and realize that not only are you on a journey to find a customer, but your prospect is on a journey to find a vendor. That’s right; you are seeking them while they are seeking you.
Your prospect’s journey to find a vendor is commonly called the buyer’s journey. Now, I will refrain from getting into the specifics of the buyer’s journey, but I recommend that you read up on the topic. HubSpot.com recently published What is the Buyer’s Journey?, which outlines the different stages buyers navigate as they choose vendors. Additionally, Harvard Business Review published The New B2B Sales Imperative, which provides even more clarity on this topic. The three unique stages of the buyer’s journey are:
The Awareness Stage: a buyer identifies a need or opportunity that they want to satisfy or pursue.
The Consideration Stage: a buyer has a clearly defined goal and has committed to achieving it.
The Decision Stage: a buyer has decided on categories of solutions.
At this point, your wheels should be spinning. Slow down! Before you jump on the phone or into your car, you need to understand how to use this insight to you and your prospect’s benefit:
It is crucial that, as a salesperson, you understand that both you and your prospects are on journeys to finding each other. Once you engage a prospect in a sales conversation, it is not safe to assume that you really understand where the prospect is in that journey. Find out by asking questions that identify where they are and what they need to move forward. Have them commit to their needs and the criteria they request. Become a vessel for the prospect as they traverse through their journey.
Remember that this journey (both yours and your prospect’s) is a journey of a thousand miles; be humble, be patient, be persistent and advance the sale forward until you reach the shores of paradise.
This post was originally featured by KSB Ventures, LLC
Reece Theriot, MBA
“We were put on this Earth to love; by loving, we serve others; by serving others, we create value; by creating value, we form successful ventures; by forming successful ventures we contribute to the advancement of Creation which pleases the Creator.”