The Sale Starts When The Prospect Says No
Most sales people are coached in overcoming objections, trial closes, and standard closes (i.e. asking for an order), all of which are valid sales techniques which can be applied to all forms of selling, particularly for products which are high volume / in demand, comparatively low cost, and presentation oriented with a focus on features more so than solutions.
However, when it comes to selling high level services, consulting, or high value items where sales cycles can be quite long, may involve many meetings, and often very detailed submissions, you have got to be able to step up a cog.
There’s a process involved – and you must follow it to the end.
For example, with a significant outsourcing contract (software or services), there are generally multiple stages to the sale including initial capabilities / overview discussions or meetings, analysis of the requirement, agreement on your analysis, finding external parties if a joint bid is required, facility tours, bid submission, follow-up review meetings, and often trials before a contract is awarded.
At some point in all those stages, you may be advised that you have not made the short list or your solution is unacceptable. It’s at this point where the sale starts … and professional sales people prove their worth!
Professional sales people understand:
1.) Relationship Development: When a prospect says ‘no” it’s generally because an objection somewhere has not been addressed and it won’t come out in the open unless you have developed a relationship which allows you to ask “why” … and your prospect feels comfortable, maybe even compelled, to tell you.
2.) Their Company’s Strengths and Weaknesses: In sales, you always sell to your strengths. However, to effectively sell your strengths, you must also intimately understand your weaknesses … and know exactly how to address objections relating to them. If you’ve analyzed all your weaknesses in advance, then you are able to quickly formulate a suitable response to your client and once again get yourself back in the race for that sale.
3.) How To Sell Solutions: If your sales technique is built on selling features, then you probably should not waste your time as more than likely you won’t be able to overcome the objection/s. However, if you are solution oriented, then there’s always a chance of converting that “no” into a “yes” as generally the final objection relates to a small element of the solution, something you more than likely can respond to quickly.
4.) The Value of Documentation: This includes thank you notes, meeting summaries, the proposal / bid documentation itself, and other documents which need to be prepared and submitted along the way.
5.) The Art of Negotiation: Often there’s a need to do something special to win a bid such as special pricing, extended support, additional resources, etc. The good sales people learn exactly what the client needs and go back to their management to work out a deal which gets them back in the race. That’s a negotiation process in itself … and then a follow-up negotiation process needs to take place with the client.
6.) The Importance Of Being Responsive: I mentioned the need for timely responses twice above and that’s because it is crucial. If you delay on getting back to your prospect, especially after you say to them “give me a day or two and I’ll be back with you with an answer on that”, then there’s a good chance that your competitors have already jumped even further ahead of you.
There’s no rocket science in the above. They are fundamental sales skills and most professional sales people have already mastered them.
Once you master them yourself, you will win more bids than you lose simply because you are better equipped to respond when your prospect says NO!