The Structure of a Sales Conversation

There are innumerable books and web sites describing how to make an effective sales call. Another case of 'no one size fits all' as each sales call is unique given that its an interaction amongst people with varied and often evolving needs and goals. May we agree that how automobiles and homes are sold and purchased is likely not the model for an effective complex sales where one objective is the establishment of a recurring buying relationship including referrals by the satisfied client to other potential customers.


I spent 5+ years as a sales instructor with IBM's Global Sales School and offer a synopsis of its approach modified for an audience of Veterans who have experience with large, complex budgeting processes; long-term approval cycles; deeply technical product and project requirements; and the need for on-going related training, maintenance and product or system upgrades. Such is the most complex sales relationship. If one understand this sales process, then the other selling processes for simpler and shorter term products and services is easier to master.


The snapshot of it all is that successfully selling is similar to small arms or pistol qualification: the principles of the activity are simple in their fundamentals; Practice makes perfect.


The 4 Elements of a Sales Call

Presuming a qualified prospect, Selling is the art of establishing trust, understanding the client’s business imperatives, finding common ground and an inclination to action on behalf of the client.


Open

Demonstrate your preparation for the client conversation; never 1 size fits all sales calls.

Customers are used to their time being misspent; expect initial resistance. Be confident that they are eager for trustworthy, relevant partnerships.


Engage

Understand before you prescribe. Think of yourselves as Sales Doctors? A conversation is the desired format not a presentation. The quality of the conversation is a function of your preparation.


Resolve

Once you’ve clarified the client’s business imperatives, goals, objectives and related measurements, discuss the appropriateness of your product or service. Customers will ask “who else like me has done this?” Try to get ‘small Yeses’ or agreement throughout the conversation.


Close

Summarize - demonstrate Listening Skills

Validate the client’s Compelling Reason to Act (CRA); what is in the center of the bullseye? I understand that your key criteria is …….

Emphasize the Action or Next Steps that you will take based upon the conversation

Neither another meeting nor an email with 20 megs of marketing materials is the goal


Demonstrated PREPARATION and an emphasis on Action based upon the customer conversation are distinguishing habits of a successful sales call or client conversation.



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