5 Step Sales Process — That Works

First off, I want to get it out there that I am not a writer, nor wish to be, I just want to help at least one person succeed in sales. And hopefully with this ebook, I can.

When I first got into sales, I thought it was just like any other job. I’ll go in, learn how to do this, that, so on and I will squeak by, collect a paycheck and something better will come along and I’ll do that. If you would have told me 12 years ago that I would still be doing sales, I would’ve laughed and probably quit my job, just to prove you wrong. Because that is who I was back then. I was on a mission to prove everyone and everything wrong. But what do you expect from a cocky 20 year old.

Sales has become my life — everything I do is sales related. It’s everything you do! Dinner, movies, who you’re going to marry, what vehicle you drive, clothes you’re going to wear, EVERYTHING. Whether you believe it or not, every single decision made is a sales process — either between you and someone else or just yourself. Weighing pros and cons is the same thing as features and benefits.

Since my first sales job, I have been successful. Throughout this book I will show you my sales process, how I interact with people, and what I have learned from other successful sales people, managers, and consultants. Overall, sales success is highly dependent on attitude. This question comes into play every day in my life, “Am I living the dream?”

Are you?

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I don’t remember my first day of my sales career, but I do remember this:

I was currently living in a homeless shelter in Appleton, WI — I had to walk to my telesales job because I had no vehicle. It was a pretty good walk, not a New York commuter walk, but a good one for Wisconsin in October. At that time, I was not a confident guy — not at all. I had problems keeping a conversation going with my male friends, so talking to a woman or any type of management was out of the question. I would stumble and mumble, it was a horrible experience for everyone involved. But I was in sales so I had to be confident. Being on the phone was a little easier than in person. But I knew that I had to do something or I would be out of a job very soon. So to learn how to be confident, I would take the time to watch people. All people. Some people would be sort of like me — uncomfortable in all social situations, and others would be the confident people I wanted to be. I would pay more attention to the confident ones. How they dressed, interacted with people they knew and didn’t, their facial expressions, everything. I learned what I needed to know, just by watching and listening. I tried out my newfound knowledge and sometimes it worked and most times I failed miserably. I had to learn a valuable lesson — fake it till you make it. That’s it. And it worked. But you can’t just sit on that lesson and not actively work at it. Think about it like this — if you want to be a better free throw shooter in basketball, you shoot 500 shots per day, every day, until you make 90% of the shots you take. Over time you will hit that mark and then shoot for 95% and so on. It’s about practice. The more you practice, the better you get. That’s what I did for confidence. Within a month or so, it worked! I could carry on a conversation with anyone — man, woman, child, CEO, Mayor. It worked for everything. By my sixth week on the job, I was promoted. I was a rock star. It was a shock to most, since I had absolutely zero sales experience when I started.

Moral of the story is the right attitude wins every time!

With the right amount of confidence, you know exactly what to say and how to say it. Now that I had confidence — I was keen on building that skill to mastery. And that’s what confidence is, a skill. Just like coding, or acting, or speaking, or making 99% of free throws. So, to master a skill is to learn from others who are masters. My tact, was to go a little beyond just mastering confidence. Now that I had that skill, I wanted to also learn other traits to help grow my career path. And with that skill I literally could do anything. With the persistence that I gained from learning to be confident, I knew that anything that I pursued, would be a win in the end. And why wouldn’t anyone else want this option in life also?

What other skills are used in sales? How about tactfulness, patience, moral aptitude, persistence, humor, empathy, collaboration, just to name a few. To name all the traits you need to be a master of sales, would be to say that you need to be the most interesting person in the world. And that’s the truth. Like I said, sales is everything. But there are different types of sales out there. We’ll get to more of that later.

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So let’s map out the sales process that I use.

Due Diligence

Ask Questions

What’s the plan?

Get a win

Follow Through

This is it — the 5 steps I have used for over 10 years. And in those years, I have always been the rock star salesman on the team. This process works, if you work it correctly. And I don’t mean correctly in the sense that, you do every single thing that I say. This isn’t a script, nor should you ever have one of those horrible things. A script-based sales job, is either a scam or not really a sales job. You would be considered a mouthpiece for whoever wrote that script, but wasn’t confident enough to fulfill the goals set forth.

Working the sales process correctly means, being comfortable with all the steps in your own way, to the point where you do not skip any step and you work through the process in its entirety. There should be no reason to skip any step, because overall they are all needed to win and keep business. This process is also known as a consultative approach. Being a consultant, automatically bumps you up above the “salesman” persona that has given most people in the sales industry a bad name. As a consultant, you are no longer labeled as a “salesman”, you are a partner. As a partner you have something to lose if a bad deal is placed, or all the loose ends aren’t tied up. It makes people more comfortable working with someone like that. If you go to the car dealership needing a 4-door sedan for you family, and the salesperson is adamant on selling you a truck, how long are you going to stay at that dealership? Wouldn’t you feel more comfortable going to that same place and the salesperson asks you questions about what you want, works with you like they are a part of your family, and over delivers on your wishes? Of course you would. That’s what people want.

Due Diligence

Have you ever heard the saying, “Fish where the fish are.”? That is something I work off of. Talking to the right people, at the right time, is what it all comes down to. Due Diligence is a part of that. Its research, it’s finding the right customer in need of what you have to offer. We’ll take advertising for an example. You need to reach out to businesses, and discuss budgets, goals, expressions, brands, market share, customer base, competitors, forecasts, social media, etc. Are you just going to walk in and say, “Hi, I am Mike with XYZ Co. I’m here to grow your business.”? Do you expect them to drop everything and praise the heavens that you showed up at that very moment? No, that is not going to happen. You have about a 1 in 1,000,000 shot of that happening. So, how do people do it? They plan and prepare for that customer. They do research, they use this awesome new thing called the internet. Did you know that you can roughly find out how much revenue a business brings in per year, or how many employees they have, or the year they were established, even employees names? Websites like manta.com and mercantcircle.com plus many others that can help you with this information. All this can be very useful in the due diligence stage. To know whether or not the business can even afford your service — what’s their revenue? Most businesses spend about 3% of total revenue on marketing. So if your advertising service costs $50,000 per year and the target business only brings in $250,000 per year, that would equal out to 20% of their total revenue. Not saying you couldn’t get them signed up, but is it a smart move? Does it even come close to the 3% of revenue? No, not even close. So you would need to find a company that brings in over $1 million per year. That’s a company that will easily look at your service. But it doesn’t stop with just their revenue. You have to also get to know the company as best as you can. You literally have to be so accustomed to the business, you might as well work there. Look into their social media — what do they have: Facebook, Twitter, Houzz, Foursquare, Tumblr, Instagram, etc. You can find out their customer base from this. Study their website, company history, board of directors, managers, their own sales team. What sets them apart from 100 other businesses that are just like them in their target market? If you can, find out exactly who the contact person is at the company — Marketing Manager/Director, this can usually be found on LinkedIn. You can also find out what they have already done for marketing/advertising. Searching the internet is your new best tool that you never knew you had. You can find anything you would ever need on the internet. All of this information is pure gold going into a business. The best part about it, is that you can ask the all the hard questions you want — confidently. Mainly because you should know the answers.

Websites like Yelp, FourSquare, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, Home Advisor — these are all review sites. Go out and see what people are saying about the company. Sure you could look at reviews on their Facebook page, but they can delete the negative ones. You’re looking for their pain points. What are they struggling with, that they haven’t been able to stop the hemorrhaging? Are they running out of customers? Do they have terrible customer service? Is their sales department a revolving door? Are they overpriced in the market without having adequate reasoning or offering to maintain? All of these questions need to be answered before stepping one foot in the door. Since you are a consultant for their business, they are looking for someone to give them insights. Whether they admit it to you or not, they are. They may not acknowledge your advice in front of you, but if it is truly a solution to one of their problems, they will use it. Now don’t take it too far, you are a sales consultant, you are not out there looking for another job (at least not yet). A couple pieces of advice are just enough. The overall goal is to get them on the same page as you, in considering you as a partner of their company, and that you care about the welfare of their livelihood.

If the company has a blog, check it out. You can even interact with it: leave comments, start discussions, review. Any company that has a blog usually has at least one person from marketing/research keeping an eye on it. They may see your name and you could be recognized from that.

Now don’t expect after you have done all of this research that you are going to get a meeting on the first call or walk in. On average a company will deny your meeting request 8 times — this is not a marketing statistic, this is a sales statistic. 8 requests. Eight. Let that sink in. It may or may not take that long, but that is the average. Sometimes it will take you less and sometimes more. What worked for me was my persistence. If I couldn’t get the client on the phone to make an appointment, I would walk in and wait for them to be free. If you walk in and the receptionist says they are in a meeting, say you’ll wait. Usually they will respond with, “It’s going to be awhile.” Just say ok and have a seat. You should have your briefcase/binder with you anyway. Just another time to check and respond to email, or start/continue your due diligence on another target. I have literally waited over 7 hours at one business to speak with a client. And that account turned into one of my highest revenue accounts. I still go fishing with that same person. After I got the meeting with him, he told me that my persistence and patience was above all else the main reasons he chose to do business with my company over the other three that were knocking on his door. I wanted him to realize that I knew he was a busy guy with work to do during the day. Just because I was at his place of business for my job, didn’t mean that I had to interrupt his job just to do mine. Respecting time is crucial to business growth.

So you’ve called ten times to get an appointment, you’ve sat in their waiting room for hours and still no appointment. What do you do now? The answer is wait. But not silently. You go back to their blog, review sites, social media sites, etc. Start your own blog. Create links from your blog to their blog. Link social media accounts to their accounts. Get your name in front of your customer. One time, I even went as far as using targeted Facebook ads that were specific to the Marketing Directors “likes” and used the tag line of “Marketing Questions? Call Michael Schuetter!” If you clicked on the ad it would bring you straight to my work-related Facebook page — that had links to their blog & their Facebook page. Overall, I think I spent about $2.00 total on ads, until that client called me and set an appointment. The first question they had for me — How did you specifically target me? Most people don’t know how specific you can be with Facebook ads. But it worked — I stayed confident that I could persistently acquire a meeting with that client, and I was patient about it. My attitude is what got me that appointment.

This approach works for any type of sales out there. Attitude, patience, and persistence are key to winning any business situation. You may or may not need all three to succeed, but they are the base to the foundation. With this mentality, I grew an advertising territory over 350% year over year in digital revenue sales, in a time when the overall United States economy was down and consumer spending was down.

Even though I am talking about advertising sales, this whole book applies to all sales in general. As you will come to understand, no one — not even yourself, wants to feel like they got sold anything. We want to buy something that we feel is worth the value. I bet you can think of a time that you were disappointed in yourself for being sold something or you know someone who has.

Ask Questions.

So you got the appointment. Now what?

Here is what I suggest:

You go in and start off you basic line of questions with intros and fillers, so that you can gain a small bit of rapport with the Decision Maker. These questions should all be ones you already know the answers to, you can even throw in some market intelligence questions, such as this one for a Pet Store: “With the rise in DINK (Dual Income No Kids) households in the Madison area, with 66% of them owning one or more pets, how do you foresee your business gaining market share of that target customer base?” — that is a question you don’t know the answer to, but it shows that you did your research of their target market and the area you believe they are trying to gain market share of. Overall you are maintaining the image of a consultant, who is a true partner for their company. YOU CARE ABOUT THEIR BUSINESS.

You need to show them you care — with high gain questions. High gain translates into questions that result in answers that give you a better position with them. Not only do they help you get closer to the client, but they bring them to the realization that you are actually there to help them gain business versus just trying to fatten your wallet.

Using your research from the due diligence stage for your line of questioning is the main key here. Questions pertaining to their competitors and what they are doing. How are they going to overcome their competitors? What is their main objective currently? Who is their target customer? One of my favorite questions to ask was, “Tell me about your perfect customer.” This is a great question for a number of reasons. You already know who their main customer base is from your research, but with this, you actually get to hear it straight from the client who they want to see come into their business, or who they want to serve. With that, you also find one of their pain points, because their perfect customer isn’t ultimately unique in the sense that they have the same characteristics. If we take the Pet Store owner for example and say that their perfect customer is a 34 year old married woman with 1–2 pets at home, no kids, makes $75,000 or more per year, lives within a 10 mile radius of the store, and owns their home. No two customers will be identical. You may have one that is a banker who stays in on the weekends and another that is a hair stylist that travels 12 weeks out of the year. That is part of their pain point to the fact that they are only currently reaching one side of that target customer base but not the other and they don’t know how or why they are not interacting. That’s where you come in. You have the tools and backing on your side to accomplish bringing that “other side” into their business or at least interacting with them.

As a salesperson in any industry you need to be an expert. And I’m sure you have heard of the 10,000 hour rule with experts — as in saying when you have 10,000 hours completed within a career field you are qualified as an expert. And this is true if you think about it correctly. You have to immerse yourself in a subject and surround yourself with it at all times. You need to become it. I gained my 10,000 hours in about 3 months for digital advertising. Whenever I wasn’t sleeping, I read blogs, studied Google analytics in regards to PPC and SEO statistics, scoured tons of articles and LinkedIn Group newsletters, attending webinars and seminars from top digital marketing experts from all over the globe. After 3 months and roughly 16 hours a day (including weekends) I reached over 10,000 hours of knowledge. After that point, I was inadvertently teaching my co-workers, clients, friends, and neighbors about all sorts of digital advertising options that were out there. When you take a hold of the whirlwind that is your career field and hold on, it becomes everything you do. So ultimately, I was practicing everything I learned about the digital advertising world daily, while still learning at a fast pace.

Getting back to why being an expert in your field is important. You need to reassure your potential client that you are the right person/company for the job. And being an expert with them on subjects that they are not too knowledgeable on helps tremendously. This actually goes on to my next portion of Ask Questions. There is a psychological trick, that if you can make someone laugh and teach them something right after meeting you, they cannot learn to dislike you. And it works in an unquantifiable way in sales. I always start off every Ask Questions portion with, “How are you doing?” Most people will say “Good” or “Ok” something along those lines, and then 8 out of 10 times they will ask me how I am doing, to which I reply, “I am living the dream!” And I say it with confidence and a smile, while looking them right in eyes. 95% of the time, they laugh. And the reason they laugh is because, most people aren’t living the dream or they have their own dream they wish to live but know that it is years off in the making. But I made them laugh. And that is part one of the psychological trick. Step two is just doing your job. You’re there to teach them things anyway. 85% of sales is teaching and learning, which should be easy to do since you are an expert in your field. You teach them something about social media or retargeting or anything really and they are now destined to look favorably upon you. You should do this with everyone you meet, just as a way to practice to perfection. If you were to do it with the CEO of the company, wouldn’t it be beneficial to have a good rapport with that person or possibly a potential significant other? Win them to your good graces?

I used it a lot with my step-daughter in the beginning because she didn’t like me for the fact that her mom was not married to her dad anymore, and now I was there most of the time instead of her dad. And it was hard to build that relationship, and I have used a lot of my communication skills I learned from sales to build that relationship up to where it is now. I use it daily with my wife and all of my other family and friends. I don’t take cheap shot to manipulate people like the “greasy salesperson” of the 70’s would do, I talk to them like they are human beings and treat them as such. Every person I come in contact with presently, I talk with like they are my friend, I am a myself in front of them and they can sense that. It calms them down and makes asking the hard questions that I need to ask easier on both parties.

Being assertive is also a needed trait for the Ask Questions sales stage, because you need to be able to communicate efficiently to the point of getting the right answer. If you were to ask a question passively, the client could answer with a passive aggressive answer, which in turn would get you nowhere. And if you were to be too aggressive, you could offend the client and they could walk. Being assertive goes along with being confident, but not cocky. There is a huge difference in the two. James Bond is confident and Dr. House is cocky (if you get my reference). Being arrogant will only get you pushed out the door. No one in business wants to deal with the cocky person at the table. There is only one way to ask the question, “What is your current budget for this campaign?” and that is by being assertive. Because if you are not 100% assertive asking the question, it may sound like you are already asking for their business without even building a plan to help them with their pain points.

After you have done your Ask Questions stage, you should be at the point in your business relationship with the client to have them consider you a partner or consultant with their business. Remember, you are not there to only ask questions, but to build that rapport up from where you left off when you got the initial appointment via phone or walk-in. I always told my clients to think of me as a consultant with a conscience that was there to help them with any need they had. And that went with anything. In advertising that would be everything from making them a Facebook business page, Google Plus page, getting them set up on Google Maps, inserting the Google Analytics web tracking snippet into their website, showing them how to use Google Analytics on their own, hanging up flyers for them around town, helping them set up their booths at trade shows, any and everything I could do to help them grow their business. Because I was willing to be their business partner. If they grew their business — my business would grow. Over time I was receiving referrals from other businesses in the area who wanted me to come look at their marketing strategies and help them grow also. They heard about me from my already growing book of business. Never leave a client wondering if they are going to get sold on your next visit, always try to make them see the possibilities from your point of view. You should be excited about your products and/or services and if they can see what you see, they will ultimately want to work with you for years to come.

Make sure you set a date and time for you next appointment and they confirm. This will be your closing day.

What’s the Plan?

You’ve taken all of the information you obtained from the Ask Questions stage, scoured every detail, matched products and services with the client’s goals and filed it accordingly. You now know what your client is trying to accomplish and who they want to reach. Now, how do you build them something that will not only impress them, but stay within their budget? Are you going to grab your bag of tricks and set something up that is the most profitable for you and your company with the highest amount of commission possible? Or actually stay in the mindset of being a true business partner with them? If you choose anything but the latter you’re setting yourself up for failure. It may work for other salespeople out in the world, but they are not going to keep and retain the same customers for years. Sooner or later you will run out of prime clients and have to resort to dealing with the unsavory kind of customer — you know the ones that truly believe they are the experts in all fields of business and will only call you, in a last ditch effort to try and boost some sales, when they feel they need to run a small portion of your portfolio. They are great for overall revenue but not so much of a business partner you need to be successful in the sales field.

So to build something that the customer will see great potential in while maintaining a good rapport with all the parties involved.

This ultimately comes down to what you have to offer alongside what is the best fit for the client. Your boss will probably say to do this or do that and make sure it aligns with your company’s revenue goals, but I do not like to approach it that way. I see this stage as a “Put your money where your mouth is” situation. You have been talking to the client already and have built up a promise or service standard, and that is why they have decided to take another meeting with you. This first sale determines your whole sales relationship with that customer. So, my belief here, is to approach them with something subtle yet profitable on both ends — yours and the clients. After all of your research in your due diligence stage, and the answers you got from the Ask Questions stage, you should already know exactly what the client has done, wants to do, and how you should do it for them. You are the expert! Now show them in your presentation. And you should have a presentation. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but it has to be something you can keep the clients attention. I use stories to keep my customers in tune with what I am saying. All kinds of stories. Sometimes they will be about past situations I have run into and others would be potential scenarios of what I would do if the situation came up. You can use other people’s stories also. I would keep it to a story that relates to the client. So for instance, if you are selling a pharmaceutical drug. And this drug is meant for women who have babies that have a different blood type as the mother. This is somewhat commonplace and there are multiple competitors. The main difference between your product and the other competitors is that your product can be administered intravenously or intramuscular, versus the competition can only do intramuscular. If you are a man, you would assume that you would have a hard time coming up with a story to sell this product, but you shouldn’t and here’s why. I use my wife as my story. Saying that “As a pregnant woman having a baby, isn’t one less stick in the arm beneficial for patient satisfaction?”

So you should have at least 5 stories to go with your plan. Also try and think of every single rebuttal you think could come out of your client’s mouth and then have two responses for each. You don’t want to beat a dead horse and only have one response. Because not everyone will accept it. They will say it doesn’t matter to them. And then you’re stuck and you pretty much have to agree with them on their objection. And that is never a good thing.

A great thing to do is to take your presentation to two separate people. 1. Someone who has no idea what your product/service does and present it to them. 2. Someone who does know what you are talking about. What this will do is give you two sides of the coin. You will literally get all the objections you need to be able to present your solution effectively. You never know who will actually be there for you to present to. It could be the original client you met with, or a new hire they had since you were in there last. I’ve run into so many different situations when I had to present my solutions. Probably the most memorable would have to be when I met with a small business owner’s father. This man was at least 90 years old, great guy. Old navy man, this guy had so many stories. I probably sat and listened to over 30 different stories for over 2 hours about the Korean War before we actually got down to business. And that guy listened when I talked to him. He took notes and followed along and asked questions when he was getting lost in the social media portion of the presentation. When I was done talking, he shook my hand and said he looked forward to doing business with me. The next day, the actual owner called me raving about how her father was so impressed by my business acumen that she couldn’t turn me down. She signed up that day. Her dad has no part in her floral business, but it was the impression I left on her dad that ultimately sold her. I still go out for coffee with her dad at least once a month and man, I’ll tell you what. That guy never runs out of stories. He should’ve been a salesman!

See what I did there with that story? Why do you think so many people read books? People love stories! Use them to your advantage.

Presentation is all set and you’ve rehearsed every way from Sunday. You’re ready to go.

Get a win!

This is just the closing portion. For me, it seems to be the easiest. I always go with the assumptive close. This seems to be the best way to close in any situation. If you have done all of the steps correctly and have proven that you are a true business partner, they should technically already be on board at this point.

So you have your presentation ready with your stories and rebuttals ready to go. You have practiced and know the whole thing to the point of starting anywhere and finishing with no problems. Get in there and present. Be confident, be happy, be not overly enthusiastic, be yourself. Above all, just be yourself. You wouldn’t have made it this far if you were anything but. People aren’t dumb, they can see through your bullshit. And people understand if you trip up or make mistakes, not large ones — like forecasts and target calculations — things like pronunciation or small grammar mistakes. You are there to sell yourself as a business partner for them. Hell, they make small mistakes and they know it. Roll with it. If you’re in the middle of something and they blurt out a question, and it throws you off guard, take a breath and then answer it. Don’t get caught up in having to have everything on the tip of your tongue. Patience is huge in this step. Also, just because you are expected to be an expert does not mean you know everything.

Another thing I try to do is to know a little about everything. This has to do with putting your product or service into perspective for the client. If you are in their waiting room and you notice a lot of golfing magazines and/trophies, you should bring up golfing to the client. Do they golf? Their children? If you know a little, just enough to sound informed, it can bring you a long way with people. There are plenty of other books out there that will tell you the best way to make a connection with something is to ask them to talk about themselves. So why not do it with something that interests them? I, myself, know about things from golfing to boats, crocheting to cheerleading, baby toys to LARPing. I learned about all of it, so that I could relate to my clients, because you never know what or who you’re going to run into.

You’re about ready to finish up your presentation and you may or may not be dreading the close. Some people dread it. They find it very difficult and get extremely nervous. Some people not so much. Here is the trick I learned to help me overcome any fear in the sales process. Can you remember when you asked your parents or family members for something? The first time you asked for something off the wall, you were probably a little scared they may say no. But over time you finally realize that they have already told you yes that it becomes easier, right? This works the same way. Start by asking people you know difficult questions or questions you don’t think they would say yes to. Especially questions you know they are going to say no to. The reasoning behind this, is to get you used to hearing no. If you can get used to hearing no, you will be able to brush it off easily. In sales, you are going to hear no, and it’s easier when it comes from people who are going to give you a reason behind the no. Your clients aren’t really going to give you the real “no”, they are more than likely going to give you fluff, ‘We don’t want to spend that much’ — this really isn’t a true no. What that is saying is that, ‘We like what you’re saying, but we don’t see the value that you claim it holds’. So a no like that will ultimately make you re-summarize your presentation and find a way to get them to see it through your eyes (or their customers eyes). That’s also where the whole “knowing a little about everything” comes into play. So for example, if you are selling a PPC marketing package to a customer who sells men and women’s shoes and they give you that same line. You could turn that around by saying something like this, “Mr. Jones, you told me before that your customer base mainly finds your service on Google. Google has proven that 62% of click-through’s are from PPC ad placement on the top of the results page. Now, wouldn’t you agree that if you could fill one of those three spots on the top of the page, that you could increase your traffic to your ecommerce site? (wait for response) Mr. Jones, I will give you an example of how this would accomplish your goals of reaching your target customer. My wife searches online for shoes and clothes all the time. And being the frugal shopper she is, she will use search terms such as: discount shoes or shoes under $30. When she hits search — the ads with keywords matching her search terms are going to pop up. More often than not, she clicks on them. And then she spends MY money there. And nothing against my wife, but she is just too lazy to scroll down the page to look at actual organic search results, just like 62% of Google users. That is your customer Mr. Jones and they are clicking on PPC ads right now.” That would be a great way to set up the assumptive close of having the contract already filled out except for their signature. Slide it across the table as you say something to the effect of, “We can get this up and running by next week, all I need is your affirmation.” I have used this technique over and over again, and time and time again they sign the contract. I would have to say that using the assumptive close I would have a closing percentage of close to 65–75%.

But it’s not all on the close, it’s everything building up to that point also. The trust and rapport that you have built with that client, them knowing you do what you say and mean well for their business.

Would say yes to you? You should never feel guilty about signing your client up for a product or service you offer. If you do, you should find something else to sell. That guilt will eat at you and you will become a disease at your company.

Follow Through

This is the customer service stage. To me this is the most important stage of all. Mainly because, if you can make it to this stage and continue to treat your client with the same respect and acumen, you will increase your book of business each and every year. And that can be done with only one client.

Follow Through is not:

Just checking in

Bringing any and everything that can boost your commission for the month

Selling something upper management deems a necessity

A phone call or an email (for Outside sales)

A true follow through will be continuing the sales process. After you have secured the first sale, you will need to touch base to see how the product of service has helped them so far. You will make sure all the parts are running smoothly — you may need to reach out to other departments. This is the full account management stage. You will be the face of all that is great and all that is wrong. But if you hold yourself to a standard of accountability, you should have no problem handling any situation and receiving credit when credit is due.

I see a lot of reps get that first sale and forget all about that client until something else comes along, something new. And what happens is the client has lost a lot of that business partner relationship. They haven’t seen or heard from you in months. They’ve had questions and issues, but with running a business you get tied up with other responsibilities. So when you walk in the door again, you get bombarded with complaints and questions that you were not ready to answer. Then you see that once great relationship start to fall apart, as you cannot repair the issues from months ago. And then you have to start all over again, but in a much worse off spot. They now wonder if they can trust you again. You are no longer their true business partner.

But you don’t have to worry about that, because we love customer service. You have to figure that these people are paying your bills. How long do you think you would keep your job if you couldn’t retain or acquire customers? A month, maybe? You wouldn’t be in sales for long, to say the least.

So, the secret to Follow Through is this:

Treat your client the exact same way as you did when you wanted to initial appointment.

You need to stay on top of the trends around that clients business. When are peak seasons? Has their customer base shifted? Are they planning on selling the business? Everything you can think of that would affect them. They are still your customer — even if their solution has nothing to do with your skills. So, if you sell them a television service contract and they have to use it, you may have to contact that department to find out what is going on. It shows a lot more acumen by you stepping up and doing something above expectations for your client. That will prove to them that you care about their business after the initial sale is completed. Continue being the true business partner. You will succeed.

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