The pressure to see as many prospects as you can, juggle as many balls in the air as you can, and create as many project proposals as you can is a sheer waste of time. Of course, sales is a numbers game and you have to work with a flow of prospects to close deals. But it’s more about qualifying your leads, working your best leads, ensuring that you provide your prospects with the answers they are looking for, and delivering the result they want.
How do you qualify a good lead? Clearly understand what they are asking for and ensure that you can you provide it. Don’t tell them what you have; ask them what they need and why. What problems or concerns do they have with the products or services they currently use, or have been pitched? Why do they have these concerns? How does it affect their business negatively? The clearer you understand what a prospect is asking for, the better you can tell them how — or even if — you can help.
If your company does not have what the prospect needs, then walk away. Your time will be better spent finding a prospect whose needs align with what you deliver. Sales is not a stuff-it-down-their-throat-until-they-buy-it process. Sure, you may be able to sell it no matter what because you’re a great sales person. But you will not be doing your company or your customers any favors unless you provide what they need. If you disappoint your customers, you will never get another audience to sell to them again. Retention is the magic to your personal and professional growth. If you cut nickels and dimes to close deals, you simply have to sell more and more customers to pay the bills.
If you listen well, a buyer will tell you exactly what they want and why they want it. They also will provide clues as to what you need to do to sell them on your company’s solution. The most successful salespeople will help customers understand things about what they want to do that may not be realistic or where they may not be properly informed about all of the pertinent details to make the right decision.
It is your job as a sales professional to help your customers reach their end result — to achieve exactly what they want. It is your responsibility to bring the right customers to your company. It is your responsibility to secure business that will grow both theirs and yours.
Some companies just drive their salespeople to give them numbers, disregarding the quality of the customers they close in favor of bringing in cash. My belief is that if you work for one of these companies, it has low margins, questionable retention, customer dissatisfaction, and other problems; because you and your sales team have not qualified your buyers and matched your skills with their needs. If your product is commodity sale, then it is all about the pennies. However, if it is not a commodity, then you need to qualify and work with your buyers.
Sales is the pipeline to meet payroll, cover costs, and keep operations going. It is one of, if not the most, critical roles in any company. That is why the pressure between management and sales can get jammed up.
If you are not clear about what your company’s value is, who your customers are (and are not), and what solutions you can deliver successfully, then your sales story may become imbalanced.
An excellent salesperson is able to overlook their company’s imbalances and qualify the right customers, even when management has not defined this as well as they should have.
Qualifying a lead expedites solid sales, good costumers, outstanding retention, repeat buying — and all of the positive results that you’re looking for. Closing these kinds of sales generally takes longer than the slam-dunk sale, but the results are far better and more profitable in the long term.
Carol Enman is a business growth consultant with decades of experience growing businesses in the security industry, as well as in other industries. She can be reached at www.whengrowthmatters.com.