There are thousands of sales 101 training books, posts, videos, sites, apps, and much more out there these days. If a salesperson truly wants to learn the art of selling, the answers are at their fingertips.
I watch many of these resources consistently to keep up with the trends. They always give me another look at things from a different perspective. With selling, there is always something to learn, but the basics have always been simply Sales 101: Prospect, Qualify, Present, Close, & Service (Substantiate). Yes, others may use different terminology, but all of us are saying the same thing.
Very simply put, years ago we did not have the level of electronic sources of information and data we have now. If we wanted to find prospects, we literally had to dig in newspapers, libraries, periodicals, networking, trade shows, and many more.
But today, we have sources of prospects at our fingertips: ZoomInfo, Hoovers, D&B, Cognism, LinkedIn, and numerous others. Even with just Google, a salesperson can find potential prospects for their product/service by doing the necessary legwork and understanding their USP or Unique Selling Proposition.
Prospecting is understanding company size, employees, valuation, market, industry, etc. Enterprise-level salespeople know what they offer and how to match it to prospects who need what they have, by consistently prospecting, effectively. After a while, they just know if there is a fit, or not.
But the prospecting work comes first.
I’d much rather know whether a prospect wants to buy our product and/or service right away than spend the next 6 months to a year chasing them. Qualifying is asking.
There are dozens of factors that go into a prospect being qualified: timing, budget, competitors, staffing, pricing, contracts, and much more. Most salespeople don’t qualify well because they don’t want to hear “no”.
Learn how to effectively ask buyers if they may be interested in what you offer. This does not include sending blind e-mails to prospects asking them, trust me. A qualified lead is someone showing interest and has made you aware of that interest because you asked them.
It’s like a physician asking a patient where the pain is. I have taught sellers to qualify by asking in the most straightforward, polite way they can and not prescribe medication until it’s time to present them with your solution.
Presenting starts the day you start prospecting. The tone in your voice in voice mails, the way you write and the content of your emails, the way you communicate with prospects throughout the sales process, your email signatures, your voice mail, I could go on.
Professionalism should run rampant in a seller’s day. When given a chance to present to a qualified prospect, be prepared to take your professionalism to the next level by creating great presentation tools (decks, PDFs, videos, and more) based on the patient’s needs like a physician would.
Most of us go to the doctor and then do what they say. Match up qualified prospect needs with your solution with the best tools and passionate knowledge of how that solution will work. Great presentations start and end this way.
An old boss of mine used to say: “If you’re afraid to ask for the check, get out of sales”. If you prospect well, if you qualify better, and you present the best, you should have no issue with asking for the close.
Miss any of the first three, and you probably won’t be comfortable asking for the business. If all the qualifications for a prospect meet/exceed your requirements and you present your solution based on those credentials, you should have no problem closing the deal.
I know many who have been uncomfortable asking for the money to change hands. Once, I hired a gentleman who was just that, uncomfortable. I hired TTI Sales Exams to test him, and they told me the next day to let him go. I asked, “Why”? They said: “He can’t close”. They were right, and he got out of sales right after I let him go. In closing, be confident you have prospected, qualified, and presented well, and you will close.
Knowing that many of our business leads come from referrals, it is vital to continue to “substantiate” a sale by making sure that your product/service worked just the way you presented it for your clients’ needs.
Even if your company has it set up for you to be a dotted line after a sale (so you can get on to the next one), make sure to keep in touch with your clients and make notes in your CRM to make sure they are happy with what they bought from you.
Every business is different, and I for one would never want to ask a client for a referral if they were not happy. Ask them if they are!
Sales 101 success isn't about flashy tricks or the latest trends. True mastery lies in the unwavering commitment to the core principles of prospecting, qualifying, presenting, closing, and servicing. While tools and technology evolve, the heart of selling remains grounded in understanding your prospect and demonstrating the value you bring. Embrace this foundation, and your results will speak for themselves.
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