The basic sales process consists of establishing contact with a customer, developing a relationship of trust, presenting the product’s value proposition, handling customer objections, closing the sale, asking for referrals, follow-up communication, and account management activities. Out of this list of steps in the process, developing a relationship of trust and follow-up communication are the most important components of successful sales transactions and the development of future business.
- Prospecting for new customers and effective account management are closely related. In prospecting, the salesperson contacts numerous potential customers to see if they would be interested in a special promotion or specific product. Account or relationship management is simply the process of repeatedly contacting customers to inform them of special promotions or products they might appreciate. Both tasks require perseverance, consistency and careful attention paid to what the customer is saying and not saying to determine whether there is potential for a sales transaction.
- Sales is not just concerned with selling one product to one customer. A successful enterprise builds on each customer transaction to bring that customer into an extended two-way communication process. The goal of relationship building and management is to convert the customer you have to proactively call to initiate a presentation into a customer who voluntarily calls you to solve a problem.
- If the sales rep has listened carefully to what the customer is really saying, she should be able to identify the value proposition that would most appeal to that customer. Some value propositions relate to style, others to perform, and others are solely based on price comparison. A deftly presented value proposition should result in a sale, but sometimes the customer has questions. Part of the sales process is in repeating back the customer’s question so he knows you are listening. Then, the presentation of the value proposition begins again, with a different emphasis.
- Almost as important as closing the sale is asking the customer, “Do you know of anyone else who might be interested in this product?” Referrals represent potential future business, and they confirm that the salesperson has properly developed a good relationship with the initial customer — another chance at future business. A customer who makes a referral often offers a testimonial to your good service, by way of introduction. Every written testimonial is a golden sales tool and should be used in the process of establishing trust with potential customers.