The Seven Steps of Selling
The year is 2016.
I walked into my first big girl sales job. I was 18, and I was working for a well-known furniture store. I had zero commission sales experience, but I was ambitious. I knew I wanted to be a top salesperson in the company, and I wanted to make big money. I was given one of the most significant opportunities in my sales career. I was a young woman working with men all over the age of 45. These salesmen have been selling furniture since before I was born. They made me nervous and kept me on my toes. Someone that I worked with — they called him Sharky — engraved in my mind that there are seven serious steps of selling that every salesperson should know. For me to be successful and beat the guys, he told me: “All you have to do is follow these seven steps.”
When I first began selling, I was a machine. I was making furniture sales that were well over $20,000. I was making so much money I didn’t know what to do with it. Until my sales process got lazy, and I wasn’t sure what I was doing wrong. Why wasn’t I closing the big deals anymore? My average sale was under $5,000, and I was frustrated.
The men I worked with were starting to come after me, my sales were high, and I was beating them. They began to interrupt my sales process — anything they could say to get a rise out of me they would. I let them get to me.
I ended up leaving the furniture store. I made sure to make one big sale before I had left so that management would feel the loss. None of them were interested in listening to how I felt about harassment and bullying. I felt as though I was pushed out, but I was determined to make money in the sales world.
I wanted to be number one and make it hard for a company to lose me. This time I wasn’t going to let men put me down. There was no way I was giving them that win.
Dear Sharky, Thanks.
I started to work for the largest telecommunication company in Canada. I got to do what I love, and I was working in sales. My manager was incredible and encouraging. She was also a woman, and I could connect with her. I could celebrate my sales loud and proud without the fear of ridicule. “Pretty good for a girl.”
I thought back to what I was doing differently that was making me so successful in a retail location selling cell phones. I never thought I would find myself making somewhere between $38 and $45 an hour by selling cellphones and internet plans.When I looked at what my sales process was, I recognized that I was practicing the seven steps of selling that Sharky taught me. Thanks, Sharky.
His advice and engraving of these simple steps are the reason I found myself successful. This time I wasn’t letting anyone distract me from my end goal to be number one. I still work for the same telecommunications company, while I am currently in school, taking sales and marketing. I don’t know many students that work part-time that make a fulltime salary, and I am thankful for so many things: the company, my sales process, and Sharky.
What is the sales process?
Each salesperson has their own sales process. My process will be different from yours. But having one is the first move towards having a successful sales career. It is the process you use whenever you deal with a client or customer. It is essential to follow the guidelines of these steps and to put a twist on it to make it your own. The reason these steps work is because you are following a timeline of how to sell something. If you think back to your most recent sale, you can visualize the process of how it happened. You can see which steps you missed and why you didn’t close the deal.
Knowing your products better than your ABC’S
If you have no idea what you're selling or your product knowledge is low, you won’t be confident when you’re selling the product.If a customer has a question about the product and you are unsure, you won’t be able to sell it properly. Before you see a client, you need to have the product knowledge. Product Knowledge is also known as PK
Your PK will further your understanding of the features, advantages, and benefits. Think of your PK as your bible for selling the product. Spend time doing research. I spend at least 5 hours a week learning about new technology and figuring out how I will position the product for the client.
Here is what I do:
Pick a product to research.
Watch Youtube videos
Look for what people want out of the product.
How popular is the product
What are the essential features, advantages, and benefits
I remember when I was trying to sell a fridge, it was my second week on the sales floor, and I had no idea what the difference was between the different products. Customers would ask me questions, and I would stare at them with a blank stare on my face.Until I decided I’d learn.
I spent countless hours trying to figure out the ins and outs of a fridge. Over time I became quite knowledgable. This came in handy when I was buying my refrigerator. I would make every customer come over and listen to me about fridges. I had so much knowledge I wanted to share.
Today, you can ask me anything about network towers, how our fiber-optic network cables work, and where we do not have network coverage. You can ask me when the next Samsung device comes out, and how many gigs of ram the latest LG phone has. The list goes on, but now I work my PK, and it impresses my customers.
If you don’t have the PK, you will not be able to sell. It’s okay, though; you will be able to learn; you just must take the time to experiment.
If you have the product knowledge, we can move to step #2
Step #2 How to create opportunity leads and prospecting future clients.
Without clients, you have no sales. Therefore you make no money. I worked in a retail location where sales would walk through the door daily. It wasn’t a lot, but enough to make a decent living. I decided that those weren’t enough, and I went searching for my leads.
Here is what I did:
I spoke to everyone I knew about a cell phone and internet.
I left flyers at people’s doorsteps.
I asked all my clients for referrals.
I gave everyone that would listen to me my business card with my cell phone number.
What happened when I generated opportunities and leads:
Create a backlog of people I could always call when I have a quiet moment. I created clients for myself.
I bumped my numbers and collected a higher commission on my sales.
I had appointments set. Customers felt they had a particular time with me.
In one month, I sold to 45 home services customers just by generating my leads. If people are walking through the door specifically for me, they are leaving sold. They took time out of their day to come and see me, so I have to let them go with the product in hand. I have that mindset with every interaction.
Generating leads can be difficult; it can be hard to find someone willing to listen to you. Don’t give up. You will see progress, it may take weeks to see results, but you will see them.
If you have a client base move to step #3.
Step #3 Qualify your customer, and find out what they want.
Something I see salespeople do in this step is talking and not listening.Create an open environment for your client to tell you about themselves and what they want. You can discover a lot about a person when you qualify correctly.
Things customers have told me that help me to pitch them the perfect product:
How many children they have
What their home life situation is
When their divorce will be finalized.
Their credit score
What kind of animal they have
How many people work for their business
How many people live in their home.
People tell me private things about themselves that they don’t tell their therapist.
Here is what I do with the knowledge they have given me about themselves:
1. I use all the content they give me for the next step.
2. I figure out what their wants and needs are. 3. I begin to decide on what route I will take for the rest of the sale.
Remember, step 3 is all about listening and getting to know your customer or client. At first, this step may be daunting, but after a few tries, you will see it will come naturally to you.
If you have qualified your customer, move to step #4.
Step #4 Demonstrate the product and show value, advantages, and benefits. Point them in the right direction — a great time to demonstrate the features, benefits, and advantages that you learned in step one. Showcase the product, you know it well, and you believe in it. Use the PK; you have to show off all the fantastic benefits of this product. There are three things you need to be thinking of when demonstrating the product.
Here is how you do that:
Show the client how it will benefit them in the future.
Showcase the value of the product.
How is it worth the money they are spending?
What are the advantages of having the product?
Who does the product benefits
Why is the product advantageous for the customer to have
What will be the value for the customer
Where will it benefit the customer
When will they see the value of the product?
Always think of the 5 w’s when showcasing any product.
Demonstrating a product and tailoring your pitch by using the qualifying questions you asked earlier will help the client visualize using the product. It will give life to an inanimate object. The pitch will get the client excited. It is essential to match their energy and will provide them with a push to say yes.
When I offer a product to my customer:
I get excited about the product and get the customer to join me in the experience.
I noticed that when my energy rises, so does there’s.
I get them to close their eyes and visualize the product in their daily life.
I let them know about the improvement the product will give them.
I smoothly always slide in an upselling opportunity in the sale at this time.
At this time of the sale, it would be a perfect opportunity to slide in any upselling you need to do. Putting the thought in the customer’s mind will either make them bring it up later, that would make your job easier, but most of the time, you will have to bring it to the table again when it’s time to ask for the sale.
If you provide the client with something that is the complete opposite of their wants and needs, and you don’t tailor the pitch to them, you will have a hard time closing the sale. Your pitch must align with the wants and needs of the customer.Although this step can be complicated and confusing, with a bit of practice, you will start to pitch the right product every time. If you have pitched the perfect product and there are objections, moved to step #5.
If you have pitched the product and there are no questions or objections, and the customer is giving you buying signals, move to step #6.
Step #5 Handle objections, always have an answer, and if you don’t have one, ask for a second opinion.
Customers have objections more often than you think.They love to come out of the left field and hit you with a question you have never been asked before. When someone gives me an objection, I get excited. The objection allows me to drive home my points.
Objections mean they are interested in what you’re selling, they just aren’t sure if they are ready to buy. Having an objection come from your customer is a much better sign than no objection at all.
Sometimes salespeople find themselves getting nervous and become desperate.Begging for the sale will only make your customer run away. Make valid points as to why the product will impact the customer and how you can make a difference for them. Fight the urge to get desperate for the sale. You have almost made it to the end.
If your customer has resolved all their objection and is nodding their head, saying yes, talking a lot about how they want the product, STOP PITCHING! Move to step #6 If the customer is still objecting, this is the wrong product for the buyer. Return to step #5 and try a different outcome.
Step #6 Ask for the sale.
All you have to do is ask: “Are you ready to buy today.” A lot of the time, the buyer is giving signals that they are ready to go through with the purchase, and you’re going back and forth between steps 4 and 5.
Here are some vocal and silent buying signals:
Nodding signalling understanding and the word yes.
Matching your posture or crossed arms
Looking at you, no loss of eye contact.
Saying the word yes a lot.
They ask their partner: “What do you think?”
“What is the next step?”
“What is the method of payment?”
“When can we set up, pick up, or drop off?”
“We want this product.”
You need to stop pitching. You don’t want to get in the trap of over pitching. The sale is made. Now the hard part. Ask for the purchase. I can understand this part of the sales process is complicated. Some salespeople don’t know how or when to ask for the purchase. It’s either because they are afraid of the word no or they don’t think to ask for the sale. Some salespeople don’t see the buying signs and end up being stuck with the customer leaving and saying they will come back another time.
Sorry to break it to you, they probably won’t be back.
I had someone who has been in sales for 30 years tell me about the time when someone said: “yes, we will go through with this product.” She continued to pitch the product for another 10 minutes. Eventually, the customer said: “we will call you at a different time.” As she was telling me this story, my hand covered my mouth in horror. She had the sale. All she had to say was, “Great, let’s get you signed up.”
A few examples of a close are:
Are you ready to go with this, as well as the upsell product?
Let’s get out the paperwork and start signing.
Why don’t we get you signed up?
Would you like to begin the credit process?
Should I start writing the bill?
Would you like me to send this to your secretary for a signature?
Should I invoice you?
Which dates for delivery work for you?
If you forget to ask for the sale, that is okay, just get them on the next one. If the customer has walked away with a product, you have hit the final step. Way to go! Although challenging the first 10 or 20 times, you have done the process. Eventually, you will go through the steps without thinking about it.
Looking good, final step, step #7.
Step #7 Ensure after-sale satisfaction.
Once the sale is over and you have cashed your commission cheque, you may think it’s over. The deal hasn’t ended until you have done at least one follow up call with your customer.
Here is what you should do on an after-sale, follow up call:
Call and ask them if they like the product.
If they didn’t take the up sale, call and reiterate why taking the up-sell will be a benefit for them.
Ask for referrals
Although daunting at first, if you did a good job, the client will be more inclined to give you contacts to further your business. They will be more likely to say yes after the sale if you call them to talk about the up-sell.
Send a thank you card to your client; you’d be surprised how much business I have gotten from giving large clients thank you cards. I always leave my business card inside the card as well so that they can give it to someone they know that may want to work out their cellular plans with me.
That’s it; you have mastered the art of the 7 steps of selling.
The sales process can be hard to master. It doesn’t happen overnight. Practice in front of the mirror and record yourself pitching the sale. Write down all the possible objections a client might have and learn to overcome them.
Perfection will take a few tries, but eventually, you will have your sales process down to a tee, and you’ll be making more money than ever. I encourage you to try these seven steps the next time you’re pitching something to someone and see how the results turn out. You may very well surprise yourself.