Sales is definitely a Marmite thing in business–you either love it or you hate it. If you love it you won’t shy away from sales conversations, but it still makes sense to only have them with qualified prospects to save time speaking with the wrong people. If you’re in the hate camp when it comes to sales, if you only have conversations with people when you’re at the ‘what option’ stage not the ‘deciding if’ stage, it will definitely help you enjoy the sales process more.
The ideal sales conversation
If you’re having a lot of sales conversations and a lot of them are resulting in a “No”, you might be having them too early.
The ideal sales conversation is with a prospect who already knows:
- What you do
- How you do it
- How much you charge (or at least a ‘range’ of prices as a guide)
- Where you do it
- When you do it
The ideal sales conversation happens when a prospect has already got the answers to a lot of their questions, especially the fundamental ones. This way, you’ll then only have a sales conversation about the details of how working with you would look, and they’re also taking it as an opportunity to ‘check you out’ (and, of course, you’re probably doing the same!).
Don’t forget a sales conversation is a 2-way process
If the service you offer involves your time, your attention, your presence, perhaps, or any kind of ‘working relationship’ with your client, it’s important you remember that the sales conversation is also about making sure the client is a fit for you too.
The 3 steps to a Yes in Sales
I think of sales as ‘3 steps to Yes’. And some of those steps can be handled in your marketing and definitely don’t need to be in person which means more time to do the work you’re paid for!
Step 1 in Sales: They say “Yes” to FIXING THE PROBLEM
Ideally, this happens in your marketing–the content on your website, the social media shares, the interviews, videos, podcasts and articles that you publish and point back to your offers. The first stage you want people to say “Yes” to is fixing the problem they have.
We want people to say “Yes” to getting all their sales and marketing admin organised and in one place, or “Yes” to getting their CRM linked to their Xero accounting software. You might want people to say “Yes” to growing their business, getting healthier, launching a new website, servicing their boiler, keeping their bookkeeping up to date, etc, etc.
Your marketing messages or website copy must always set out to get this “Yes” first–the “Yes” to the fix. There’s no point having the conversation about YOUR fix (how you specifically do this) if they haven’t said “Yes” to the fix in general. When they say “Yes” to the fix, you can start talking about You.
How this will show up in a sales process will be either a prospect requesting your ‘free advice’ on fixing this problem–a guide or checklist you publish on your website, a series of videos they can subscribe to watch, read a book you’ve written, etc.
It may be that you have some free information that answers their questions, then a ‘paid for’ (even if that’s still technically free but is sent with the ‘payment’ being their name and email address). If a prospect is interested and saying “Yes” to fixing the problem, they are very likely to want to request all the information and help they can. And, of course, once you have their email you can work on the next “Yes”…
Step 2 in Sales: They say “Yes” to YOU
Now, this isn’t where you get all technical and reel off all the details about your offer–this is a higher-level conversation, perhaps on a series of emails or, if you’ve already got a sales conversation organised, in person.
It looks like a very simple question that’s a variation on the theme “Would you like me to help you with that?” that being the problem that they’ve by now said “Yes” to fixing. Get them to say “Yes” to you ‘in general terms’ before you launch into exactly how you’re going to work with them.
Step 3 in Sales: They say “Yes” to your OFFER
Once you’ve got a prospect who has said “Yes” to fixing the problem they have, and they’ve said “Yes” to you being the person to fix it, you can have a conversation about HOW that would work, and what you recommend to them.
This is the “Yes” that results in a sale… so at this point, if you’ve been paying attention during the first 2 yeses, you’ll know which of your products or packages is going to be the best option for the person you’re speaking with. Now that they’ve said “Yes” to fixing the problem and “Yes” to fixing it with you, you just need a “Yes, that’s how I’d like to do it”. It might mean sharing a couple of options and explaining the benefits of each; it might mean explaining why you’re only presenting one option. But this is the “Yes” that results in a sale.
This is the “Yes” that you’ll want to save for ‘in person’ on a call or in a meeting where you have a sales conversation. And now you’re at the ‘deciding which option’ stage, you can easily put together a quote or proposal that will simply be a SUMMARY of what was AGREED in the sales meeting.
Skipping straight to your offer can stop sales
If you’re currently skipping straight to the Number 3 line of questioning–getting people to say “Yes” to your offer–and it’s not always working out, I’d see where you can get the other 2 yeses first, and see what happens. I’d expect you’ll end up with a lot more sales that you did before.
And, of course, if you’re not getting yeses to fixing the problem in the first place, you don’t waste any time trying to convince anyone you’re the person to help, or to buy what you have to offer. Big conservation of your time and energy right there, too 🙂
Don’t save Quotes for Decision Making
This is a really important aside–don’t end a sales conversation with “I’ll send you some options” or “Great, let me put a quote together for you” and leave! You want the YES (or No) during the sales conversation as otherwise you’re inviting a lot of back and forth, and time to dither.
This isn’t about ‘closing the sale’ in an aggressive way (Ugh! don’t get me started on that) and, of course, it’s still OK to let people leave on “Sounds great, I just need to check a couple of things but yes, if I’m going ahead that sounds like the perfect option”, but don’t leave them hanging!
There should be NO SURPRISES in the quote or proposal you send out after a sales conversation or meeting–it will be a summary (perhaps with a couple of details added that you did need to work out but you already explained that). A quote or proposal done well will evoke a reaction of “Great, that looks exactly like what we agreed”, not “Hmm, what’s all this then?” and causing a new ‘thinking’ stage.
Think of a quote as checking the bill in a restaurant
You already know what you ordered and ate, so the bill is simply there for you to check it and agree with it before paying. This is what a great quote or proposal is–a summary and ‘check’ before paying. It’s not where you keep selling or, worse still, start selling. It’s a summary, and confirmation–the sales part is already done.
Follow up helps with sales, too
If you know there’s some extra ‘content’ that will help the sale stick, do send it along with or after the quote or proposal–case studies, testimonials and a “Here’s something to get started with” can really help.