In sales, control means a salesperson positively guiding a prospect right through the sales process, from beginning to end, completing every step. When this is not done—if steps are skipped or not fully completed—the sale is often lost. If it is done, however, you end up with the perfect definition of a sale, which is “an exchange in which both parties win.”
A crucial key to control in a sale is homework. This happens in three primary ways in the sales process.
Prospecting—this is the stage of the sales process in which you first define the exact type of prospect you are trying to sell to. Once you have done that, you can then develop a huge database of potential prospects who will indeed purchase your product or service.
Research—this is the step prior to making any kind of contact with a prospect and is the key piece of homework you must engage in.
A massive mistake salespeople make is not researching their prospects. Today with the internet this step is much easier than it was in years past. Research is conducted through social media, your prospect’s company web site, locating common connections, and other similar activities.
You want to learn all about the person you are going to be talking to—their experience, their role in the company, and their expertise. It is great if you can even discover some personal information such as their hobbies.
You want to discover everything you can about your prospect’s company, and their products or services. You should learn about their competition so that you might demonstrate how your product or service can help them out-do their competition.
Qualifying—Once you have completed the Contact and Interview sales process step, in which you have established trust with the prospect, you can then proceed to the Qualifying step. This is another form of homework; in that, you are going to find out from the prospect all the reasons they should buy—from their point of view.
This particular step is all-too-often skipped over, or rushed, the salesperson assuming they already know why the prospect should buy. Doing so is a common reason for sales failure—how do you feel when someone assumes how you feel, and they are wrong?
When this step is properly done, you can then proceed through the rest of the sales process, educating the prospect on how your product will meet their specific needs, getting their agreement to purchase, and closing the sale.
It’s only when you “know before you go”—that is, when you fully complete your homework—that you then have the understanding to smoothly control your prospect through the entire sales process.
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