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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Funnel Vision

Sales Funnel: Definition~A metaphoric sales process showing a large number of unqualified leads at the top of the funnel, being filtered in subsequent levels i.e. stages, and the actual clients that result exiting the bottom of the funnel. Also known as a pipeline.

Getting that first appointment

Remember the first five minutes of the conversation is what will make or break you. Friendliness goes a long way in a conversation, and remember, this is not rocket science! You don't have to be a fancy talker to be a great salesperson. You just have to know your company, your services, and your products. And you have to be passionate about what you do, and have a love for business and selling. If you can sell yourself and your idea to the prospect, chances are you'll get your first appointment. Get the prospect to like you, and you will get the appointment! Getting them to like you means being genuine and caring in your approach, and showing you want everyone to win, not just yourself. Put your potential client's needs first ahead of yours, and you will get the first appointment, guaranteed!

Don't forget the first three letters

"Fun" should always be part of the funnel. I know we get caught up in wanting to sell them, but if you're not having fun, they won't be, either. Don't be afraid to throw in a little appropriate humor. If you think the prospect won't appreciate silliness, go for a more subtle joke. But make sure to make it, alright? Nobody likes to deal with someone who has no sense of humor. So make it a fun experience for you and your potential client! The fact they've had fun dealing with you could turn out to be the main deciding factor between you and a competitor.

Positive energy

I said it before, and I'll say it again! Smile! It's contagious. You can't be smiling around other people without them smiling back. You can't be feeling good about yourself and your surroundings without everyone else feeling good to be around you. People buy things from people who make them feel good about themselves...

Staying focused

Keep your eye on the prize, always with big picture in mind. And understand that the process may take longer than you anticipated. Be patient with the process, taking one thing at a time. You can't go on the the next part of the process without clearing a few bumps along the road. That being a metaphor for a few tough questions that need to be asked your potential client, and possibly some personal or business related problems that will need to be addressed. Answer questions patiently and honestly. Be sincere in your answers, and make good eye contact. Your prospect will probably confide more in you at this point. Be steady in your tone, always speaking in an even and clear voice. Maintain an aura of calm. Your prospect will be calm if you are.

Spending money to make money

In order for you to make money in any business venture, you must first spend money. A lot of business people are scared of this fact. There is a lot of uncertainty involved in spending, or giving something, and not knowing what the return will be. If any. And the simple truth is that we don't know if our giving will be reciprocated. We hope it will be, possibly resulting in a sale, or business success. If we happen to own our own company, for instance, we hope our investment in the business will pay off in profits and growth. Still, there are no guarantees. And that can scare people.

Personally, I'm not afraid of losing money to gain a client for life. It seems to me like a small investment for potentially gaining so much more. And even if I fail to gain the client, there's still a possibility I could sell to them in the future. I would say that possibility, including the good reputation I'll hopefully build as a business woman will over-ride any small monetary loss. It's not something to stress about. It's just an investment in building a future, and a business. An investment in success, not only for yourself, but also for your client, and their business.

That being said, there will be times during the sales cycle that you'll have to spend money on your prospect. You may take them out to lunch to discuss furthering the sales process. You may need to bring them something that means something to them. It doesn't have to be something expensive, but it needs to be something that took time and thought to create. For instance, you could bake something for them to take home to their family and enjoy. All it takes is a little bit of thoughtfulness, and you really wanting to give to them. That's all. And don't expect anything back. Hope that you get something back(i.e. the account), but don't expect it. At the very least, you've started building a good relationship, and building a great rapport with them. That should be enough for now.

Expect less, get more

It's as simple as that! If you expect less, you'll usually be more relaxed than if you are so eager to get an account that you forget to enjoy meeting the person. You don't want that! So go into this with an open mind, and understand that the person you're talking to is just a person. You're getting to know them, and their getting to know you. That's all! Treat them like a person, not just a potential client. And don't have such high expectations that you forget to have a good time.

The art of appointment making

Give them a choice of two times to meet with you, not a choice of any time on the calendar. You set the times, and they choose. Then, follow through with the appointment. This will ensure that the sales cycle moves along faster, without you appearing the slight bit pushy. Pushiness is big turn off for your prospect. It literally pushes them away. So be gentle in telling them where and when you're able to meet. That'll make it much easier for them to accept limits, without feeling that they're being imposed upon. And even though they may assume you have an indefinite amount of time to go over everything, you need to have a set amount of time predetermined in your mind. Otherwise, the meeting could go way over the amount of time the prospect may really need to make a decision.

Genuinely caring about your prospect

I've covered this before, and I'll say it again. You can never be too caring toward your future client. There really is no such thing as faking it in this category. You can't fake caring! You have to really care about making them happy...

Your final proposal

Preparation is key in regard to your final proposal, and it might take more time and commitment on your part than you initially thought. No matter how many hours you need to put into it to feel comfortable presenting your offering, you need to make sure to invest that time. I will be time well spent when your prospect agrees and signs the deal with you and your company. It will also help you be able to focus on the situation at hand, instead of worrying about what to say. You'll know exactly how to answer every concern the prospect may need to be addressed, and you'll be way ahead of the game. It will also give you the confidence you need to show you are capable of handling your potential client's problems, and that you can take care of them in the way they need you to.

Make it clear you're interested in closing

Set a date and time, and get them to commit. How will you be able to close if you don't ask? It's your job, not your potential client's job to guide them through the sales cycle. They're not going to suggest closing the deal. That's your job! And hopefully by this time, you've cleared away any obstacles. Make sure all questions are answered at this point, because there is no turning back now...

Never ask the prospect a question where they can verbalize the word "no." At this point, you can't risk that. You have come too far, and you can't risk losing the deal so late in the game. You've almost won, now go in there and act as though you've already got the account. Now, you just need to confidently ask for the sale that you've earned! You've also managed to convince them that you are their best and only solution to their business needs. Congratulations! You've just gained a new client!

Following up

You should understand, though, that this is only the beginning of your relationship. I've covered this before in my post http://carouselsalesblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/client-relationships-are-like.html, and it addresses how to maintain client relationships for a lifetime. This is where a lot of salespeople fail miserably. They gain the account, but fail to care after getting the client to sign. This is what I call client neglect, and it's serious grounds for divorce. So please, whatever you do, just don't make the mistake of leaving your client stranded after you've closed the deal. If they need your help after the sale, help them as much is needed for them to feel happy with their decision. You also need to follow up, even if they seem happy, and haven't called you. It's your job to call them, and make an appointment with them to see what is working, and what's not. And to make adjustments accordingly. Remember, you have to maintain that relationship with your client for a lifetime. Put in the work, and I guarantee that later on, your invested time will pay off in more sales to that same client.

And remember...

First impressions matter
Confidence is imperative
Make soft eye contact
Make sure to ask questions sparingly, and intelligently.
Don't over-plan
Respond to questions, and ask questions according to the direction of the conversation.
smile and relax
Listen aggressively
Address every concern, and take notes before, during, and after the sales cycle.
Follow up with your new client as needed.
Call them, and make a quarterly appointment to see how your services are working for them.
Invest in your relationships, and your investment will work for you!

What's your take? Let me know what you think!
Thanks for stopping by...CC

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