No matter what field you’re in, there’s an established flow on how to best land a sale. You can tweak it to fit your particular industry of course, but there are seven essential steps to success, known as the Sales Cycle.
Like the circle of life, you should look at your sales cycle as a never-ending loop; new leads converting to contacts that turn into closed deals who refer more new leads. But over time, even really good salespeople tend to focus more time and energy on the tasks they excel at while paying less attention to other, equally important aspects of selling.
To be a master salesperson, you must master the entire process! Let’s take a look at the seven steps of the Sales Cycle and see if you can spot one you may be neglecting in your business.
There are plenty of everyday tasks you do for your business that are important. But does every single thing you do actually generate income? Of course not. Learning to distinguish between what actually makes you money – your Income Producing Activities – and what doesn’t is key to maximizing your earning potential.
Income Producing Activities (IPAs) can fall into one of three levels.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Earl Nightingale, a radio broadcaster from the 1930s: “You become what you think about.” When you consider the importance of that concept, success often comes down to reprogramming your brain through positive self-talk.
And yes, you can joke about looking in the mirror and saying things like, “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me.” But those things are powerful. In the movie What About Bob, Bill Murray’s character repeats the mantra, “I feel good. I feel great. I feel wonderful.” And those are his “baby steps” – the positive affirmations he uses to convince himself that he can do anything.
So you’ve landed a meeting with a new prospect. You’ve fostered an environment of mutual trust and respect and created a buying atmosphere. How do you move forward with the needs analysis in a way that gives your prospect confidence that working with you is the right decision? Well, by identifying the pain, of course.
Most salespeople know that they need to identify the pain, or “find the pain.” But that’s just scratching the surface of an effective needs analysis.
I developed the P.A.I.N. technique to show salespeople how to go beyond just finding the pain. It’s an easy to remember approach for deeply understanding your prospect’s needs while setting up the next steps of the sale.
I have a friend who’s attentive, asks great questions, and always makes me feel important. She’s an amazing listener. I think about her often when I find myself intentionally trying to be a better listener. A little voice says, “What would Leah do?” in the back of my mind.
That may sound strange since (as a coach) I listen to people for a living. But like most salespeople, I love talking! For most of us, listening takes a lot of practice.
That’s why I’ve created a whole set of rules and guidelines for myself so that I’m always working to become a better listener.
I was recently the guest speaker at a 7:00 am business breakfast at a women’s conference about 90 minutes from my house. That made for an early morning – even for me. It was a cold, rainy day and Shane wasn’t up to give his normal cheerful send-off. Not the start of a great day.
When I got there, I went to the restroom to pump myself up. While washing my hands, I thought, “what a perfect day to stay in bed in my pajamas and watch a movie.” Just then, a woman came out of another stall. Our eyes met in the mirror and I smiled.
“It’s gonna be a great day!” I said.
She sheepishly smiled back at me and said, “Yes. I guess it could be.” I didn’t know it at the time, but that little exchange made a big difference in her day.
If you’re in sales, public speaking skills matter. Now, if you do your selling one-on-one, you may think this doesn’t apply to you. But we’re always presenting, even if we’re selling to just one person. Besides, at some point you’ll need to lead a meeting, accept an award, or give a presentation.
When I was 20, I had to give a speech to an audience of 3,000. I thought I was prepared (I wasn’t) and that my speech was fully memorized (it wasn’t). Suddenly, 5 minutes in, I went absolutely blank. I still remember it vividly: a pounding heart, two sweaty palms, and a sea of blank faces. After the event, I vowed to never step on stage again.