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The fundamentals of selling, otherwise known as, the 7 steps of selling. Part 1

THIS IS NOT A GAME, THERE ARE NO TRICKS. That’s right no games and no tricks, anyone that ever tells you otherwise should be avoided. Tricks and games remove all integrity, respect and trust in the sales interaction and only serve to piss people off. Wait a second though, the title says The 7 Steps,  doesn’t that imply some kind of game or system and there fore tricks? Nope, the 7 steps are there to help guide you through making sure your customer makes the right choice, has a great experience and refers more business to you, it’s a path that the two of you need to walk together.

Step 1 – Greeting. Sounds easy enough right, greet the person, it can be that easy but there is a problem. As consumers we are pre-programmed for some odd reason to always reply to a sales person asking if we need help with “just looking”. Don’t ask me why, I’m sure there are a number of explanations for it but the truth is we do this, even if we actually need help. Listen to yourself the next time you walk into a store to look for something and someone asks you for help. You automatically respond with, nope just looking, but wait you went in there to look for something and actually NEED help. So, here’s the way to make the greeting simple and effective, be happy, be clear and use something other then can I give you a hand/help you.

Wait a second though, your reading this and maybe your already a sales person and you already have a habit of using “can I give you a hand/help you”. No problem, truth be told, I catch myself doing this all the time. The way out of this is to simply ignore the automatic response of “just looking” and ask something like “was there something specific you where looking for” or make it product specific “did you maybe have some questions about _______?”.

Step 2 – Qualifying  I’m only going to say this onetime, this is the most important part of the entire process, screw this up and you are  setting yourself up for failure.  This is where you need to find out the hopes, dreams, expectations,  reasons for, shape, size, color, configuration, power, etc that the person standing in front of you is looking for. This is the part where you through open ended questions and careful listening find out what the person is looking for. Allowing you to determine what you have that best meets or exceeds their expectations. Get used to the word expectations, it’s going to come up a lot in a bit.

The goal here is simple, get as much information from the person as possible to be able to narrow down your presentation to two or three choices at the most. If in your mind you aren’t down to two or three choices then you aren’t done qualifying. If you don’t do this and instead move on to presenting choices to the person you are simply going to confuse them and make things more difficult for you both.

There is a brilliant gentleman named Dan Ariely and if you are involved in sales or customer service in any way then you need to read his books, Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality. He’s a Behavioral Economist and  the books look at decision making processes and are incredibly interesting. One of the chapters called “Keeping Doors Open” looks at how we make decision when presented with different options and the take away from it is this. When we are presented with two options it is fairly simple for us to weigh out the pros and cons and make a decision, as soon as just one more options is added the decision becomes infinitely more difficult for us to make. Another of the chapters in Dan’s book talks about imprinting and this reinforces the importance of also finding out what else the customer has already looked at.

The other goal of qualifying is to build a rapport with the customer, it’s about them getting the feelings of trust, honesty and integrity from you. By listening, asking lots of good questions and genuinely showing interest in the other person you gain rapport.  The fact is that you could write an entire book about qualifying and again I emphasize that is because it is the most important part of the process.  I’m not going to do that here though, this is a more compact conversation we are having dealing with bigger picture ideas. On that note, that’s enough for today I think.


About Kevin

I'm a coffee loving, bike riding, husband, father, brother, father, son, sorta wanna be foodie and these are my thoughts on anything I want. I'm opinionated and say it like I see it, if your easily offended then this is not the place for you. Expect me to talk about coffee a lot and expect me to rant about customer service, sales and things that companies do that make no sense.


One thought on “The fundamentals of selling, otherwise known as, the 7 steps of selling. Part 1

  1. The largest challenges, as I see it, when it comes to the sales process is the following: Ever hear someone say ‘I went in and NO ONE looked after me, so I left!’ or ‘The sales people there were pushy!’ Consumers have been trained that either of these experiences will happen in any retail environment, but rarely the middle-ground. Consumers tend to be disappointed when they are not being attended to, and when they are, their defenses are up wondering what’s in it for the sales person, or what the sales person’s motivation is for wanting to help them, and skeptical of the sales person’s intentions; whether the sales person is conducting themselves in the best interest of themselves or the customer. This confusion is likely the responsibility of most sales people today, and in some cases the consumer.

    Sales person after sales person in today’s market place is not sincere. Their focus is on the sales process, or ‘the game’, and are not interested in the value of their product or taking pride in fitting their customer into the right product. The sad result of this is that consumers, once experiencing this, are skeptical of any sales person’s intentions next time they are put in this situation. Shame on the bad sales person for creating this paranoia. A human being genuinely interested in the best interest of their customer doesn’t have a chance with this individual when given the opportunity. Fear now, however, avid consumer. Sales people such as this never last long in their chosen profession. Their insincerity shines through causing loss of sales and no referrals. But alas, that bad sales person has left their mark, and make a quality sales person’s job that much harder next time out. Sad.

    And consumers, be cautious. Your extended research and focus only getting the best deal frequently results in you spending more on the wrong product. Consider giving value to a quality sales person and a quality dealership to assist you making the right selection. Why someone would travel hours to have a few dollars is beyond me. Do you value you time that little? Or has your focus changed to ‘the game’ as well?

    Attention Consumers: You need something. Go somewhere and give a sales person the opportunity to understand your needs and make a recommendation. If you are not approached or you do not feel a sales person’s sincerity then leave and try some place else. Keep doing that until someone asks the right questions. Value their recommendations when they are right and pay them for their product. Value their assistance. Then go back again and again, and tell your friends. That store will then survive, their buying power will get better and better, and they will grow.

    And lastly, if you’re doing more than just looking, then please say something other than ‘Just Looking’ when approached by a sales person. You’d hate to be responsible for a sales person taking his own life when they’ve finally heard that term for the last time, wouldn’t you?

    Posted by Mike McComb | September 1, 2011, 5:55 pm

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