The Value Proposition is not as much of a step in the sales processes as it is a mentality to maintain throughout. A Value Proposition is informing the customer of the value benefit they will receive as a result of your proposed solution. It’s simple wouldn’t be possible to leave this kind of information out until after a discovery phase. The customer needs to have some idea of what they could get from you, otherwise there would be little incentive for them to continue with the sales process at all.
You must propose value from your very first interaction. You can further refine the value proposition throughout the sales process, but from the outset, you should be able to explain benefits that only you can provide them, even without knowing too much about their business just yet. Think about your experience and the experience of your company; existing customers and how your business has helped them. If you could sum up your business in a single sentence to explain to someone, so that they want to know more, what would it be?
Just like when qualifying a prospect, the discovery processes needs you to ask the right questions, at the right time, to the right people. In this stage of the sales process you need to find out everything you can about:
- The business and how it operates with respect to the problem needing to be solved
- The people and how the work together
- The problem that YOU can solve
Be careful not to dive right into a list of questions you have prepared. This will more than likely throw your prospect off guard and they will lock up, not giving you any information and preventing any further relationship development. Rapport must first be established. The questions you ask should be a natural extension of building a relationship with the prospect and the business. Always remember that you’re not trying to “sell” anything; you’re providing a solution. You’re on their side.
Prospects are found in four main ways.
- Cold Calling
When someone completes a form on your website or gives your company a call, they are interested in what you have to offer. These prospects are called “warm”. They have identified either an issue in their business that needs to be resolved, or a factor of their current operation that is limiting their growth. It is generally much easier to open up a conversation with these prospects since you can immediately respond to their enquiry.
What is Professional Selling?
Let’s start by defining what professional selling actually is. Professional Selling is the process by which you, the seller, identify and explore business requirements of a prospect and align these to the goods (products and/or services) that you are selling. Once the requirements have been identified, professional selling becomes more about the communication and relationship development with the prospect and their business. Getting the deal signed becomes a small part of the process.
When you walk into any store, you are looking for a product and, if you find it, you purchase and leave. Professional selling is much less about selling a product and much more about providing a solution. The time it takes to close a deal is significantly more than you may expect.
When you’re selling to business you’ll often aim to contact a specific person, or a single person will contact you. This person naturally becomes your main point of contact for the sales opportunity. However, for the opportunity to close successfully, this person must not be your only contact, unless that person is of course the CEO for example.
Generally, the first person you speak to isn’t going to be the one that makes the final decision. They may not even have much influence in the decision making process. A lot of the time, the biggest role your initial contact will have is making a recommendation. To be successful, you need to not only convince this contact that your product or service is right for their needs, but learn who else would be involved in order to sign the deal off.
Throughout the sales process, your customer will need things from you. This might be a document, some analysis, a reference or case study, or anything else. As a sales person you will almost instinctively say “yes” and agree to deliver them what they want. Then, after you hang up the phone or leave the meeting you may find yourself so caught up in the excitement of moving the customer to the next stage in your sales funnel and forget to follow up on their requests. Big mistake. When a customer asks something of you, you need to not only deliver, but deliver more than they expect. Keeping promises and exceeding a customer’s expectations before a deal has closed leaves a very strong impression of not only you as an individual, but of your company, culture and work ethic.
Here are 5 tips to help you keep promises and exceed expectations.
One of the first actions to take when presented with a new prospect is to qualify them. Accurately qualifying a prospect will make the rest of the sales cycle a lot easier. And, it’s certainly OK to qualify out a prospect and maybe move them into a “nurture program”. In this way you won’t be spending valuable time and resources chasing a deal that doesn’t exist.
Qualifying a prospect is much easier when you have hard facts behind your decision. This way, you’re not letting your emotion or attachment to the prospect get in the way of the qualification.
The BANT criteria outlines a framework for qualifying any prospect. Each aspect must have a solid response before the prospect can be moved along the sales cycle.