Today, the entire process of selling is more complex than it has ever been before. It used to be that we would make a single call on a single buyer who would make a single decision on our product or offering. In this simple form of transactional selling, we used the attention/interest/conviction/desire/close (AICDC) model of sales presentation and focused intensely on numerous different ways of closing the sale. Then, once we had made the sale, in many cases we never saw the customer again.
Today, however, everything is different. Today we must make multiple calls, an average of five or six, in order to make the sale. We deal with multiple decision makers in an organization, each of whom can influence the purchase. Much of the sale takes place when we are not present. Sometimes we never even meet the final decision maker who signs the check. And it is not unusual for a sale to be derailed at the last minute by something completely unexpected.
If that weren’t enough, there is more competition than ever before and it is more determined and resolute than it has ever been in the past. Not only must we compete on the basis of price, quality, services, capabilities, financing and warranties with many other vendors of our product or service, but we must also compete with every other vendor of every other product or service who is striving to get the same customer dollar that we are after. Our competitors are extremely determined, driven the same as we are by tight markets and careful customers. They are committed to starting earlier, working harder, and staying up later thinking of ways to take our customers away from us.
Our prospective customers are beset on all sides by every conceivable sales offering. Because they are drowning in details, options and choices, they are in no hurry to make up their minds. With markets changing and contracting, the amount of discretionary funds they have available has shrunken and they are more careful today than they have ever had to be in the past.
The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer. If a business does this in sufficient quantity and with proper cost controls, it will make a profit. The profit is the result of creating and keeping customers efficiently.
Just as a company must continually restructure and redesign its product and service offerings to satisfy the changing tastes of a demanding and competitive customer marketplace, you as a salesperson must constantly upgrade the quality and sophistication of your sales procedures and approaches if you are going to create customers for life in sufficient quantity.
Here are two things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action –
First, be prepared to make multiple calls on a customer to close a large or complex sale. What I call the “Five Rights of Selling” on page 75 in my book Making Moments Matter. Plan your sales work systematically so you always have a new reason for calling back.
Second, think continually about how you have to change and improve your selling and your offering, reframe, and tailor your presentation to needs and wants of each unique client if you want to succeed in a tough market. Work on yourself every day and never stop getting better.