This was a topic that sparked lively debate at a recent Business Exposure Group meeting.
The starting point made was that most companies spend time training their sales force on product knowledge, but almost no time on how to actually sell, stating that sales people are born not made. Half the attendees agreed with this view, but all thought that it was important to teach new salespeople to read the client, to understand their personality and only provide information when the client is open to receiving it.
Significant interest was shown when we considered how to keep the momentum going if the prospect is slow to respond during a typical B2B sales period. It was felt that because B2B sales take a long time from initial interest to placing an order, that during this period five common mistakes occur.
1. Failing to engage all the stakeholders and merely relying on the initial contact to be in a position to place an order.
2. Failing to leverage conversations which have taken place with other staff of the client.
3. Failing to manage the internal disagreement within the client’s business, as to who is for and who is against the proposed purchase.
4. Failing to keep the client engaged throughout the weeks and months of the process.
5. Failing to make a compelling argument as to why the sale will be of value to the client.
Some good sales questions were suggested at the Business Exposure Group meeting. Here are just a few of these questions:
– Buying history questions – When did you last buy/What process have you gone through in the past to buy?
– Purchase specific questions – What prompted you to meet with me today/What qualities do you look for in a product/What is your time frame for buying/Who else is involved in the purchasing decision/What is your budget?
– Rapport building questions – How long have you been with the company?
– Clarifying questions – Tell me more about …..
– Objection seeking questions – What are your thoughts so far …..
But the overriding conclusions from the Business Exposure Group discussion was that the phrase ‘How must does it cost’ is a great buying signal and one that should not be overlooked.
Nevertheless, many sales people get caught up in the long drawn out sales process and forget that each situation is unique. It is vital that this does not happen. That progress is made at each stage of the negotiation and that follow up is second nature. Failure to be proactive and measured will lead to the client controlling the sales process and invariably your sales team won’t sell anything if that happens.