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I was asked “What is a CRM” and this is what I answered…..

CRM is not anymore a buzzword. It is not just another acronym that an IT Professional builds skills on to grow in his / her career. CRM, as you are aware, stands for Customer Relationship Management. When someone says CRM, they refer to an application software used by Sales, Marketing and Customer Service departments of a Business entity. Typically, CRM has these three modules – Sales, Marketing & Customer Service. Analytics is either offered as another module or as part of all these modules.

Coming to the Sales module, the App helps Sales people of a business close more deals. The Sales CRM application helps in Account Management, Activity Management, Lead Management, Contact Management, Opportunity Management, Pipeline Management.

Typically sales people get leads from Marketing department and start validating those leads. Sales people also generate their own leads as well. Starting from a cold call, qualifying a contact as a lead or validating the leads passed to them and then finding an opportunity with that lead and converting that lead to an opportunity and taking that opportunity through various Sales Stages – for example from Needs Assessment to Closing and beyond, the Sales CRM helps sales people perform their job more efficiently.

CRM is unlike traditional applications used in an enterprise. By traditional applications, I am referring to the transaction oriented applications – say for ex, Financial Applications [that is used to track the finance from order to pay or purchase to pay etc] or Enterprise Resource Planning [ERP] application that helps in the back office business processes. These applications capture limited customer information – order and payment details of customers and cannot satisfy the requirements of the sales people.

Sales people are the face of any business. They occupy and run the front office. They are the point of contact when a customer walks into a business. They handle all the customer inquiries that are received through various channel. This is inbound traffic. Customers get in touch on their own and express interest in a product or a service. While sales people handle this inbound traffic, they also run outbound sales to identify customers who may be a good fit for their products or services and can benefit from them. The sales people do a number of activities to acquire new clients.

“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” – Steve Jobs, Apple

Coming to Sales CRM, it captures customer data in detail and it is mapped to the Sales Process of an Organization. The sales process of an Organization is the process followed from the first contact with a prospective customer till the order closure. It starts with the sales person contacting a lead, understanding the needs and evaluating the needs, checking product fit or service fit, budgeting, Mapping Customers Organization Structure, Identifying Decision Makers / Budget holders / Influencers, Demonstrating, Proposal submission, PoC [Proof of Concept], Closing, Following-up.

The Sales CRM captures all the data through this entire process. It is a complete salesforce automation. Contact management is the basic feature that helps sales people to keep all customer contact details in one place. They can map social media accounts of their contacts as well. They can even create a field to capture the news feed about the customer’s organization from the web.

Sales CRM captures all the leads. Allows one to convert those leads into opportunities as they get qualified. The opportunities then follow a predefined sales process through various sales stages. And sales people can then visually see which opportunity is in what stage. A series of opportunities in various sales stages is a pipeline. And sales people can have multiple pipelines – one each for a specific product or a business entity or a division or a geography.

Sales pipeline management is critical to success of any organization. The low hanging fruits will be taken care of. But it is those warm leads that needs to be nurtured for long term success of an organization.

We sell Pipeliner CRM. It is a Pure play Sales CRM. You can visit this link to download a trial: http://www.pipelinersales.com/crm/free-trial/?referral=926.

Pipeliner CRM is a visual CRM. That is, at any given point, the sales people will be able to see which opportunity is in what stage and the app has a Sales Navigator that intuitively tells where the sales people should focus their energies and what should be done with all the other opportunities and other leads as well.

CRM is useful for any business with either one sales person or 200 sales people. Whether it is a B2B or a B2C. Regardless of whether it sells a capital intensive product or everyday use product. Whether they sell directly or through the distribution channel. Whether they sell online or offline. Whether their sales cycle is long or short. As long as they sell and want to grow by selling more, they need a CRM. CRM is an essential tool in today’s competitive world. Without that, businesses will be doomed.

It is not anymore a buzzword.

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Things to remember during a follow-up call

Marketing department in an organization uses 4P [Product, Price, Promotion, Place] to plan and execute its marketing strategies. And its aim is to create a market for their company’s products and services, if it is a new product or a service. If it is not a new product / service, then their aim is to create a market share for their company. Their job does not end with acquiring leads and passing them on to Sales. They need to validate the leads and qualify them as well. But that’s not all. They need to evaluate their campaign effectiveness, understand which channel delivers the maximum bang for the buck spent, analyze how the market responds to various campaigns and accordingly fine tune their campaign strategy in future.

Sales gets the leads from Marketing plus they also generate their own leads. Sales get references from their existing clientele. Due to word of mouth, sales people get calls from prospects that are hot.

Sales puts all the leads together and starts managing them. They need a good lead management tool [that is part of a CRM] to make their job easier.

While the leads are qualified as either hot or cold, there is a need to classify them as warm as well. In my experience, I have found that I had a competitive advantage over my competitors when I handled such warm leads very well over a long period of time.

Let us now take a look at things to remember during a follow-up call:

  1. Don’t say you are just following up.
  2. Don’t say you are checking in or just wanted to touch base.
  3. Say things that will arouse his/her interest in your products/services.
  4. Highlight the benefits of your products or service.
  5. Repeat the value your product or service delivers or the USP. Let it remain etched in his/her memory.
  6. With every touch, learn something new about the prospect and record it in your CRM.
  7. If you say something that resonates with the prospect, the deal will close faster than you think.
  8. Don’t educate the prospect on your product / service during a follow-up call. Unless, he asks you to.
  9. But definitely add value – give him information on your recent client acquisition or share news from your industry or the prospects industry.
  10. Ask the prospect, if this proposal is still in their high priority list.
  11. If it is still in the high priority list, ask when is it going to be taken up and what is it waiting for and how can you help.
  12. Get commitment from the prospect on the next date and expected progress from his side by that date else you commit to get back with some important information on a certain date.

Happy Selling !!

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How to eliminate the resistance to buy ?

As mentioned earlier in one of my previous posts, the buyer is anywhere between 60 and 70 % of his buyers journey when they decide to contact you or your company. But there is still some resistance to buy. Let us find out how to eliminate the resistance to buy.

But let us first understand your sales situation and then the current market situation.

You have a product or a service to sell. And your marketing team does a fantastic job using the 4Ps of Marketing [it is still relevant] or the Marketing Mix, as it is famously called. They also used all the latest fad in Digital Marketing. They even hooked up a film star as a brand ambassador to create brand awareness. All this is fine.

Your company then starts attracting leads. And these leads are then passed on to you, to work on it and close those deals.

The problem is that your competitors also do the same thing. Branding. Marketing Mix. Star campaigns. All the works. Absolutely. But they commit mistakes and I am going to tell you what are those mistakes and how not to commit those mistakes. And how to remove the resistance to buy and Close the deal.

  1. Your competitors follow some dumb process. Without any respect for the customer.
  2. They sound very corporate and treat prospects like buying machines that exist only to buy their products or services.
  3. They are arrogant.
  4. They are absolutely unemotional.
  5. They are good at complicating things.
  6. They are not truthful.
  7. They have no regard for the prospect and don’t pay any attention to what the customers say.
  8. They are good at promoting themselves without knowing that the customer has just rejected them.

Today’s buyers are very knowledgeable. They have plenty of options. And they evaluate each one of them very seriously. Before they talk to you, they identify their problems and also get to learn why your product or service is a good match to solve those problems.

But you still have lot of work to do before the client can sign on the dotted line. Here are some pointers for you, with a focus on how to eliminate the resistance to buy:

  1. Differentiate your offering from the competitors.
  2. Simplify things and do not complicate.
  3. Highlight real long term benefits to the prospect. Not the honeymoon. Or the discounts.
  4. Be truthful. Accept your shortcomings. Your credibility will then improve.
  5. Say only what you can do. And do what you said.
  6. Find out the prospects’ real reasons for considering your product or service and highlight the same to them. People like to win and they won’t shoot down their own reasons.
  7. Make a short statement that is memorable to remember and make sure that it summarizes what you do and why should people buy it.
  8. Remove the risks for the prospect. This is the deal clincher.
  9. Resistance to buy is a sign of fear. Remove the fear and the deal is yours.
  10. Promise to handhold the customer in case of any issues. Stand by that promise.

Happy Selling.

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Are you on the same page, with your prospects ?

Listening is an art. And Sales people should listen attentively to their prospects and customers, without which it is going to be difficult to make the sale or solve a problem. The prospect always tells us what he / she wants, what problems are they facing and where they need Professional help in solving problems. Unless, we listen to them carefully, it may not be possible to initiate a discussion forget getting the deal.

Future belongs to those who listen with an intent to understand truly !!

Listening helps you get information. And empathizing with your prospects will help you understand the situation / problem in its true sense. Forget your sales pitch. Just listen.

“Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.” – Bernard Baruch

There has been too much of a bad reputation that the Sales people have built over the years and it is time to change that perception. Firstly, the prospects think that Sales people are interested in only pushing their products or services down their throat whether they have a need for that or not, whether their product or service solves their problem or not. This is a bad reputation that the Sales people have built for themselves. I am not blaming the entire community. But many are the reasons for this reputation. So, you need to get this changed right at the first interaction with the customer. But, how will you do it ?

  1. Show respect to the prospect
  2. Don’t rush things
  3. Carry yourself well
  4. Think and Act like a true Professional
  5. Show seriousness
  6. Ask open ended questions and shut up – I mean shut your mouth but keep your mind, eyes and ears wide open
  7. Take notes
  8. Ask qualifying questions
  9. Align with them
  10. Summarize and ask if you have understood them correctly

This will go a long way in building a relationship with them. Customers don’t buy products / services just to meet their needs or solve their problems. It is much more than that. It is purely an emotional bonding with your products or services or with your company. And that emotional boding happens due to the way you treated them or due to the way you handled yourself during the call. You are your company to them. Good or Bad is in your hands. Deal with it responsibly.

Using Sales Techniques is one thing but Building relationship is entirely a different ball game altogether.

Being on the same page with the Prospect ensures that you have understood their problems correctly and have agreed to do certain activities towards helping them solve those problems. So, your deal has a good chance, a good probability. And your competitor who is not in Sync with your prospect is on a tail spin at the moment.

Continue to Listen to your Prospects and Customers and keep fine tuning your offering, products, services, sales processes, customer service so that you may achieve true customer satisfaction

Listening involves using all sensory organs and not just your ears. Get the full import. And implement these ideas in your next sales call and let me know what happened next.

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Tell your Prospects to “Jump into the pool”

Not the exact phrase, I mean. Or even an equivalent phrase that means the same but replaced with your products / services, say for ex: “Get on board, Sign up soon”. No. Instead, what I am asking you to do is this: When you align with your prospects and travel with them in their buyer’s journey, you should say and do things that eventually make them want to jump into the pool and they in fact end up jumping into the pool. It is nothing but developing the prospect / lead and using closing techniques to close. No point in repeating that the pool is in fact cool and not that deep and the water is crystal clear and the pool is clean etc. If he doesn’t know swimming, you can offer to teach him swimming if he gets into the pool. Is it a Deal ?

The sale is normally a done deal before even the sales person walks into the prospect’s office. Now, buyers are anywhere between 60% and 70% of their buying journey when they call you. They would like to hear from you that their decision [assume that he is already your customer] is in fact perfect and will go places. Prospects like to hear things that re-assures their own ideas.

If you don’t match the buyer in his journey in terms of speed, accuracy and the exact stage in his buying decision process and instead if you follow your own sales process and force the prospect to sit through that process, you have lost the deal. Remember the prospect still needs your help to cross that line, though he has made up his mind. But that doesn’t mean you should restart the whole process from the beginning.

Buyers analyze deeply and evaluate options that are in front of them before getting to a conclusion. But they need someone to endorse that decision and tell them why such a product or service is the best he / she should buy, and how it is going to change their lives forever. He still expects you to say nice things about it. Of-course, with evidence. At that moment, your confidence matters. Details can come later. You may not have the contact no of your referral customer handy but that is fine. If you say confidently that such a customer is using your product / service and this is how they benefited, that is sufficient at that moment. The details can be presented to the prospect later in the form of a case study.

All things same, between two vendors, it would be the Sales person’s ability to close. Some of the phrases / questions you can / should use during this stage are:

  1. So, how soon are we starting off on this project ?
  2. Will it be a wire transfer or a credit card purchase ?
  3. What are some of the things you advise me to watch out for during the implementation / execution stage ?
  4. Who in your team is more dependable and who are the core team members that I will be working with ?
  5. What is important for you ?
  6. How can I make it a big success for you ?
  7. What will ensure our continued success ?
  8. Will you be looking at signing up AMC for 1 year or 2 years ?
  9. What are some of the things that I need to be aware of, while delivering the product / service ?
  10. What are the locations that may be difficult, in terms of adoption rates for our product / service ?
  11. Would you prefer that in matt finish or glossy finish ?
  12. I am sure this contract is in line with your expectations. Isn’t it just perfect ?
  13. Is there any question that I have yet to answer ?
  14. Is there something that still bothers you from signing up / placing the order ?
  15. The price is going up from next week. I am sure you would like to take advantage of the current price. Won’t you ?
  16. So, if I guarantee delivery within two weeks, do we have a deal here ?

Your prospects expect your help to close. There is something still in their minds that needs your assurance or re-assurance. They are reluctant to speak about those things openly but you can uncover those by asking smart questions and satisfying the prospects with your answer to those nagging little things. Give your prospects comfort, confidence, trust, safety, zero risk, long standing reputation, proof of your expertise, your willingness to walk that extra mile etc.

Happy selling. Enjoy every bit of it. The whole world runs because someone sold something to someone else somewhere. I know that’s you !!

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How to align with your prospects in their Buying decision process – Part II

It is not about you anymore. It is about them. The dialogue starts with them, their needs or problems, their Industry, the challenges in their industry, their competition, their achievements, awards, recognition, their goals etc. How you align with your prospects during their buying journey and how enjoyable you make it for them will determine your success. You exist for your customers and because of your customers.

Sales is getting complicated. Companies now have multi channel to sell their products or services. To name a few, you have field sales, inside sales, customer service, loyalty programs, corporate website, partners, resellers, social media channels etc. It is essential to speak with one voice and ensure that the prospect gets the same look and feel [in other words, same experience] whichever channel he chooses to get in touch with your company.

Listen

Listen to your prospects. When they talk they are giving you information about their thought process, their values, their expectations, their style of working, their experience, expertise, their problem statements, their idea of a solution etc. Unless, you are attentive and keenly listening to your prospects, you will miss many of these things.  And you may miss the information on how he expects you to sell.

When you listen, you listen and pay attention and not just pause and wait for an opportunity to make a pitch.

Why should you listen ?

  1. That is the only way to start aligning with your prospect, if you want the deal, that is
  2. To understand their needs or problems
  3. To get to know their expectations
  4. To understand their buying decision process
  5. To find out the stage the prospect is in, in their buying decision process
  6. To understand what is the perception he holds on your company or products or services
  7. To get to know their perspectives
  8. To know their priorities and urgency

Introspect

Instead of asking yourself – Why should this person buy this? Why should they buy from me? Why should they buy at a particular time? etc – ask yourself the following questions, if you are aligned with the prospect :

  1. Why this company / organization exists ? How is their current problem statement / need aligned to their “why” ? Simon Sinek in his book “Start with Why” says “It doesn’t matter what you do, it matters Why you do it.” If you take a re-look at the problem statement with this understanding, a new perspective may emerge out of it. You will then buy the idea of your prospect. Now you will start thinking like your prospect. Perfect alignment. Great start.
  2. How can I add value or help them so that I can join them in solving the problem together ? How can I make the prospect “want” to take me into confidence and consider me their trusted consultant ?
  3. How urgent is it for your prospect to get the problem solved to continue to inspire their customers and add value to them ?

Help

Your prospects are looking for your help in the following :

  1. How to do things in a much more easier, simpler way and save time and money
  2. How to get more business with less and less effort and also spending lesser and lesser
  3. How to get more done with less
  4. How to make it easy for your prospects to buy, implement and use your products or services

Provide Value

What is value? It is an individual perception and it denotes the greater importance or worthiness that something deserves.

  1. Show them increase in efficiency in shorter time frames
  2. Provide something that helps them do things in a more powerful manner
  3. Give them that which no one else is offering for the same cost or for a little more
  4. Provide them tools that will help them become a leader in their industry
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Buying Experience Index – BX Index – A Game Changer

I strongly feel that the Sales Performance of Sales people should be measured in terms of the Buying Experience of the Prospects measured through an Index. Let us call it Buying Experience Index [BX Index]. You are hearing this Term for the first time ever. I take pride in coining this term. I coined this term to enhance the buying experience of customers.

Sales people should not be measured in terms of the achievement of their sales quota. What happens when sales people are measured only in terms of their quota achievement ? They tend to focus only on bringing in more business and not focus on customer experience in their buying journey. They tend to strictly follow their own sales process without any concern or care for the buyers’ buying decision process or the importance of aligning with the prospects.

The Sales People mostly focus on low-hanging fruits and do not invest their time and effort towards business development such that it continues on a self-sustenance basis. In an ideal world, Sales/Orders should automatically start flowing in without any effort whatsoever. For that to happen, the Buying Experience of the prospects need to be taken care. Well that is a lot of effort in itself. But it is worth investing your money, time and energy in enhancing the Buying Experience of the buyers.

What should the Buying Experience Index capture ? How will it be measured ? How do you define such an index ? Let us try to define it first.

Prior to that, let us see What is Buying Experience ? The experience of a prospect or a buyer during his journey of the Buying Decision Process that starts with the Need Recognition and finally concludes with a purchase [or not].

Buying Experience Index [BX Index] : An Index where all companies will be benchmarked based on the Buying Experiences their customers and others are going through during their journey of Buying Decision Process.

What should the Buying Experience Index capture? A partial list.

  1. Did the vendor’s organization come up in the first page of organic search on major search engines ?
  2. How easy was it to visit their website and their pages / accounts on major social networking sites ?
  3. Was the information that you were looking for, made available on their website and was it easy to locate ?
  4. Was it easy to reach their sales reps ?
  5. Were you able to access case studies in your Industry ?
  6. Was a demo made available to you ?
  7. Did you get access to the fact sheet of the product or service that you were interested in ?
  8. Did you get the detailed pricing information with no hidden costs ?
  9. Did the Sales person listen to you and understand your needs ?
  10. Did he help you with whatever you wanted ?
  11. Was he able to provide you the value that you were looking for ?
  12. Was he courteous, responsible, professional, knowledgeable etc ?
  13. Were you able to get a feel of the product or service ?
  14. Did you get a trial edition of the product ?
  15. Were you able to use it to your satisfaction ?
  16. Were you able to access user guides and other documentation easily ?
  17. How easy was it to reach their customer service people when you had a problem ?
  18. Were you able to get customer references ?
  19. Did the sales person address your special concerns / needs ?
  20. Are you satisfied with your Buying Experience and how likely are you to refer your friends to this vendor ?

How will the Buying Experience Index [BX Index] be measured ?

It will be measured using latest technologies and a survey of customers in various industry segments.

How will Buying Experience Index [BX Index] help you ?

  1. It will help you exceed your buyers’ expectations
  2. You will be setting a new trend in your Industry
  3. Prospects will flock to you since they are buying an experience and not a product or service
  4. You will have shorter sales cycles
  5. Less customer churns
  6. More customer referrals
  7. More deals
  8. More brand equity
  9. You will be perceived as a leader in your industry
  10. You will get to understand your competitors better, get to know the various options that your prospects have and most importantly you will get to know why your customers bought from you and why some prospects didn’t buy from you and how to address them quickly

More on BX Index soon. Watch this space.

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How to align with your prospects in their Buying decision process – first in the series

It is all about Aligning with your Prospects in their Buying decision process. It takes intelligence, maturity and experience not to be pushy or salesy during the sales process. Instead, understanding your Prospects’ Buying decision process in detail and aligning with them in their process will help you land the deal. The power has shifted to the buyers now. And most of the time, your prospects may know more than what you know. It is good to have that assumption. That assumption will only make you handle the prospects with utmost respect and not underestimate their intelligence. Prospects will like that attitude.

Buying Decision Process consists of various stages and these stages were first introduced by Engel, Blackwell and Kollat in 1968 and popularly called as EBK model. The stages are:

  1. Problem/Need recognition
  2. Information search
  3. Evaluation of alternatives
  4. Purchase decision
  5. Post-purchase behavior

These stages are not in any order and you cannot expect your Prospects to follow it strictly in the above order. They may have their own order and may or may not go through each of these buying stages. However, Problem/Need recognition is the first step without which no purchase can take place.

Prospects may want to start the dialogue with the Price. You may not like this and you may actually want to show the prospects the value they are buying instead of looking at it from a purely transactional perspective. But prospects who are very knowledgeable and are serious about your product or service and have spent considerable amount of time researching about your product or service would want to discuss Price in the first call. How you handle that will decide the final outcome.

You may promise, your prospects, to answer that question on pricing during the course of that call itself but tell them that you would like to get their permission to explain your product/service first. They will most likely agree to this. This is an opportunity for you to show the value the prospect is buying.

“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it. Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean your purpose, cause or belief – WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care? People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”
― Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

If you can inspire your prospect with the WHY of your Company / Product / Service, your deal is done. People definitely like to be part of something worthwhile and want to pitch in and participate.

While aligning with your prospects on their buying decision process, the following are some of the things to avoid during the first call:

  1. Asking questions related to the people responsible for the purchase
  2. Asking for the timeline
  3. Asking who is the budget holder
  4. Asking about their organizational goals or what they are trying to achieve or why they are buying this product or service
  5. Avoid being pushy [does it mean that can I be pushy during the second call ? No. Never.]
  6. Making a pitch
  7. Avoid being aggressive, persuasive, judgemental, persistent, know-it-all etc.
  8. Don’t talk about your customer references from the same industry [not during the first call]

Instead you should do the following, during the first call:

  1. Listen
  2. Provide value to the buyer [we discussed this above]
  3. Be helpful
  4. Completely align with the prospect – discuss Price, if they want you to
  5. Explain your Product / Service
  6. Allow them to buy, Give them time, Be patient
  7. Offer help only when asked
  8. Look at it from their perspective
  9. Undertake research about your prospects prior to the call
  10. Show genuine interest in their products/services

Let us take this discussion forward and see how to align with prospects and create a win-win relationship with them.

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What Questions to ask your Prospects ?

Here are some questions for you to ask your prospects early on in the Sales process [but not during the first call]. The answers can help you qualify the prospect. This is not in any order. You should pick and choose to suit your sales situation. You are the best judge of your situation. Sales people are the entrepreneurs in an organization and are capable of making quick decisions.

No one has any time to waste. And that includes You. Your time is important as much as the prospects’ time. If there is no product match or service match there is simply no point in wasting everybody’s time. You can say there is no match and move on. Clients will respect you for that. There are hundreds of other customers wanting exactly the product or service that you are offering and are searching for you. Go, find them.

Now, the questions:

  1. What inspired you to initiate a dialogue with me / us ?
  2. What is the problem statement ?
  3. How are you solving this problem [XYZ] today ?
  4. How much money is set aside for this project ?
  5. When is the latest you want to have this project initiated ?
  6. Are you working on any deadlines to complete the project ?
  7. How important is this project to your top management ?
  8. How is this project helping you in achieving your Organizational goals ?
  9. What are some of the ground shaking things that are happening in your Industry ?
  10. What does your client look for in you ?
  11. Are you currently driving this project full time ?
  12. Who else besides you has a stake in this project ?
  13. And how do we get them also involved ?
  14. What is the biggest obstacle, you currently foresee, for this project to kick-off ?
  15. What skills are you looking at, in a partner working on <XYZ> ?
  16. What metrics are important to you ?
  17. What targets have you set for yourself, in terms of <ABC> for the year YYYY ?
  18. What are some of the most important non-negotiable criteria to choose a vendor for this project ?
  19. What are your thoughts on our Organization and/or our product <xxx> or service <yyy> ?
  20. Can you help me champion this project within your Organization ?

Prospects will start looking at you with utmost respect and they would love to work with you and will definitely call you whenever they think they can engage you and your organization, in the future. You will always have a special place in their minds than your competition. You will be regarded as someone who is very knowledgeable in your field.

Undertake your research on your Prospects’ Organization and the Contact Person before the first meeting and go with an open mind. Always think how you can help your prospect in any given situation.

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Which of these Sales methodologies do you use ?

What are Sales Methodologies ?

Sales Methodologies are nothing but Strategies used in a Sales Process. We will come to the Sales Methodologies in a bit. Let us first look at the Sales Process.

Sales Process is a series of steps right from the lead stage to the closing stage. It contains steps from lead stage to various sales stages till closure including but not limited to Prospecting, Validating, Needs assessment, Budgeting, Mapping Customers Org Structure, Identifying Decision Makers / Budget holders / Influencers, Demonstrating, Proposing, PoC [Proof of Concept], Closing, Following-up.

But across the Sales Process, you need to use a Methodology – or in other words – methods / rules to run your Sales Process smoothly till closure. What should be your outlook through out your Sales process ? How you will sell your Products / Services ? That is captured by the Sales Methodology.

There may be many Sales Methodologies. The popular ones are:

  1. SPIN Selling : Situation, Problem, Implication, Need-Payoff, popularly known as SPIN. This was coined and popularized by Neil Rackham.
    • Situation: Questions to ask to understand the customer’s current situation.
    • Problem: To ask the prospect: What is your problem statement ? What are you trying to solve ?
    • Implication: What will happen if you don’t solve the problem ? What implications will it have on your organization ? On your financial results ?
    • Need-Pay off: What if the problem is solved ? What is the pay-off you get by solving this problem ?
  2. SNAP Selling : Keep it Simple, be iNvaluable, always Align, raise Priorities or SNAP. This was conceptualized and promoted by Jill Konrath in her book SNAP selling.
    • keep it Simple: Prospects are busy and are hard-pressed for time. Hence savvy sellers keep it Simple and make it easy for the Prospects to move forward.
    • be iNvaluable: Prospects now want to work only with Sellers who are knowledgeable. So you can now stand out from the crowd and make a difference. To differentiate yourself and win over frazzled prospects, collaborate with them as if they were already customers.
    • always Align: If you are aligned with the prospects’ goals, objectives and mental make up, then selling is easier. In fact, you don’t sell; you actually help the prospect reach her goals and objectives in the most effective manner.
    • raise Priorities: Your prospects need some outside validation on what you say you can do. Provide them that in the form of conversations with your existing clients, video testimonials etc.
  3. Conceptual Selling : You don’t proceed with a pitch of your product or service. Instead you ask questions to uncover the prospects concept of your product or service. This methodology stresses on Listening. And you focus on Getting Information, Giving Information and Getting Commitment. You ask smart questions to do these three things. And it should be a win-win transaction else you should walk away from the deal.
  4. Consultative Selling : Customers’ needs or pain points forms the focal point of the sale. Your product or service does not. You ask open ended questions and listen. In the process, you learn what is the pain point or needs of the customer and you propose a solution to address that pain point. Sometimes it is also called as Solution Selling.