- Have you ever been subjected to a sales pitch that made you feel … well, squirm?
- Have you ever seen an advert that promises “The next magic formula to getting everything you wanted? … and it felt like a con?
- Have you ever walked onto a car yard and as soon as the salesperson opened their mouth – you ran for the hills!
- Have you ever walked out of a restaurant having had a disappointing meal because the service wasn’t up to scratch?
- Perhaps you’ve walked into a retail store and walked out saying to yourself, “I’ll never go back there again.”
The truth is…. peeps like this give selling a bad name.
The real art of selling your products or services (without being sleazy or salesy) isn’t trying to persuade someone to buy something they don’t want. No – true selling is about helping people buy. If you become good at this, then your sales revenue will increase and your business will grow exponentially.
To help people buy, you need a sales road map that not only keeps you on track, it ensures you arrive at your destination.
The Bi-Sell-Cycle™ is like a sales GPS – it’s a proven buying and selling process that increases your ability to successfully close sales. Like a GPS, it shows you exactly where the buyer is on the buying cycle so that you can match the selling process accordingly. It guides you to where you want to go, not only a lot quicker, a lot more successfully. If you don’t follow a sales process GPS, you are leaving the outcome of being able to close a sale to chance because it is likely you will lose your way.
BUT and there’s always a but! Before you plug in your Sales GPS, you have to build a connection with the prospect first.
Build a connection
In the examples above, the people who give selling a bad name do not know how to go about building a connection with a prospective customer first. They fail to demonstrate they are interested in helping the prospect buy what’s right for them. They then launch straight into a sales pitch without having any concept of what the prospect’s needs or wants are. That car salesman gets paid a commission if he makes a sale. Does he or she have your best interests at heart? The good ones do. That advert that promised the next best thing probably doesn’t work, but it doesn’t matter because even if they get a few returns or complaints, they still make a profit if they sell enough products. That restaurant you weren’t happy with, perhaps the manager didn’t treat the wait staff very well or they were poorly paid meaning they had no motivation to provide a good service. As for the store assistant, it’s just a job until they can find a ‘real job!’
But not you – you want to help people buy. You want to make a connection so that the prospective customer does relate to you. They can tell if you have their best interests at heart and they keep coming back time and time again. It’s simple really, people do not buy from people they do not like. Unless you build rapport quickly with a prospective customer, the sales process will come to a grinding halt. If this happens, all the overcoming objection tricks you have up your sleeve won’t make the slightest bit of difference. If you don’t make a connection in the first instance, the prospect will walk away.
Uncover buyer needs
It’s very presumptuous to push products and services too quickly in the sales process. After you make a connection with the prospect, the last thing you want to do is become that pushy salesperson by launching straight into a sales pitch. If you do this too quickly, you immediately break the connection because the prospect will no longer trust you. They will sense it’s more about you telling or selling them than helping them buy. If trust is immediately broken the prospect will walk away.
After you make a connection and build rapport with the prospect, you need to find out what their motivation is to buy. In other words, you have to uncover their needs. When we talk about needs, if a prospect is looking to buy insurance, they aren’t looking for an insurance policy they are looking to buy peace of mind. Your role is to find out exactly what peace of mind are they looking for; to protect their life, their car, their business, their home, their health or their family. Buys don’t buy your products or services, they buy the benefits your products or services offer.
Often when a buyer tells you they want something, it may not be what they really need. For example, if a buyer told you they wanted a 55” flat screen TV, chances are you sell it them without question all the time thinking you sold them exactly what they wanted. However, when they get it home they not only find out it’s too big for the room, there is no TV outlet to plug it in. This does not make for a happy customer. Yes, they told you what they wanted, a 55″flat screen TV, but it wasn’t the solution to their problem. It’s only by asking questions that you get to uncover a buyer’s real needs.
The only way to find out what a buyer’s needs are is to ask effective questions. Be careful here. Just because a prospect tells you what they want, it may not be the right solution to their problem. For instance, a buyer looking to buy an insurance policy might ask for health insurance but what they really need is income protection as well. Only then would they have peace of mind knowing in case they become ill, their family will be taken care of with continued cash flow resulting from income protection.
Follow a Sales Process
Imagine you are about to ride a bicycle, there is a wheel in the front and one in the back. Holding the two wheels together of course is the frame of the bike. The sturdier the frame, the stronger the bicycle. A bicycle won’t move forward unless both wheels turn at the same time. Think of the front wheel as the buying cycle and the back wheel as the selling cycle. The frame of the bicycle makes up all the other skills you need to successfully conclude a sale which are your communication skills. This is the Bi-Sell-Cycle™ a proven sales process which is the GPS you need to successfully navigate the buying and selling process with a prospective customer.
Before you can sell anything, you need to understand how people buy.
The Front Wheel
All buyers go through this buying process when they purchase products or services. It can happen very quickly like an impulse buy or it can take a long time like buying a house where the decision is more likely to be slow and deliberate.
By understanding the how the prospect goes through the buying process, it makes it much easier for you to match where they are in the selling process.
- Firstly, a buyer has to have a need whether that need is real or imagined. Without having a need, a buyer has no motivation or reason to buy. A need presents itself either as a problem they need to resolve or an opportunity they want to realize. Buyers are motivated by only two things, to avoid the ongoing pain of a problem or to gain the rewards of an opportunity when it presents itself.
Secondly there has to be an impact if they don’t make a buying decision. For instance, the pain of a problem might get worse or the opportunity to gain a reward might slip away. It’s only when the buyer realizes what the impact would be if they don’t make a buying decision that really motivates them into making a decision. If they are experiencing the pain of the problem, the impact or consequence is that the problem will remain and the pain will get worse. In the example above, the buyer wanting insurance might continue to stress about their health and worry about protecting their family. It’s only when the stress and worry become severe enough, they will buy the insurance policy to relieve the pain of stress and worry. Alternatively, if a buyer waits too long before making a buying decision, they might miss out on the rewards they would gain if they don’t pursue an opportunity. Buyers will not make a buying decision if there are no consequences or impact on their current situation.
- Thirdly, the buyer has a target goal in mind. It’s either to take away pain or gain rewards. In the example above, the buyer doesn’t want to buy insurance, they want peace of mind. Their target goal is to protect their family in the case of becoming ill and losing a steady income. Alternatively, a buyer might want to gain the rewards from an opportunity. Either way, their target goal becomes their dominant buying motive which is to avoid the pain of a problem getting worse or miss out on the rewards an opportunity might bring them.
In their mind the buyer now has some idea of what they want to achieve. They either want pain relief or to gain rewards. Now they are in a position to go to the market to investigate who is the best provider to help them achieve their target goal and at what cost. That cost could also be opportunity cost. This is often where you meet them in the buying cycle when they come to you to find out if your products and solutions will satisfy their needs.
- After they have investigated all the options, the buyer makes a choice by matching the provider who will satisfy their needs by taking away the pain they are feeling by resolving their problem or help them gain the rewards by realizing an opportunity. What the buyer in fact wants, is for your products and services to help them achieve their target goal.
After the buyer has bought the solution to their problem or opportunity, they then evaluate their decision to buy from that provider. They ask themselves the question, did the solution satisfy their need and help them achieve their target goal. If not, they will go back into the buying cycle again looking for another solution.
All buyers go through this process when making buying decisions.
Try this for yourself.
Think of something significant you bought recently. It could be a car, a house, a holiday, a computer, TV or something else.
- What was the reason you wanted to make this purchase? (Need)
- What would have been the Impact if you hadn’t made the purchase?
- What was your Target Goal – were you looking to take away pain or gain rewards?
- How did you go about Investigating all the options available?
- Why did you Choose the option you did?
- Were you satisfied with the purchase? (Evaluate)
All buyers go through this process both personally and in business.
The Back Wheel
The selling cycle is the back wheel of the Bi-Sell-Cycle™ and a mirror of the buying cycle. As a salesperson, you have to find the buyer’s need, explore the impact if they don’t make a buying decision and assess what their target goals are. At that point you are then in a position to tailor a solution to the buyer’s target goals which is to take away the pain of a problem or help them gain the rewards from an opportunity. You can then sell them your solution to their problem or opportunity then evaluate if their needs were met. In other words, you match the buying cycle with the selling cycle.
This is what keeps the process moving forward.
Find the need
Buyers are motivated by two things, to avoid pain or gain rewards.
Needs present themselves as symptoms that something is wrong. In business it might be a budget deficit, declining sales, increased customer complaints or even employee attrition. Business opportunities might be to expand their business, improve their systems and processes, increase their sales or provide better customer service to increase retention rates. In other words, they either want to take away the pain of a problem or gain a reward when they realize an opportunity.
Sometimes buyers don’t know they have a need until a third-party points it out to them (like a salesperson).
Explore the impact
Just because a buyer is aware of a need, doesn’t necessarily mean they will do anything about it. If the problem is not painful enough or the rewards not great enough, they might happily sit back in their comfort zone and not buy from anyone. As a salesperson, you must explore the impact or consequences of the buyer not taking any action. What you are in effect doing is creating tension to buy because suddenly they become aware that their problem will get markedly worse or they will completely miss out on the opportunity if they sit back and buy. It is not until a buyer realizes the impact or consequences of what would happen if they don’t buy, that they become motivated to avoid the pain of allowing a problem to persist or miss out on the rewards if they let an opportunity slip by them.
Assess their target goals
By now the buyer understands the consequences if they allow the problem to remain or let an opportunity go unrealized. They don’t want this to happen and so have a target goal in mind, which of course is to take away pain or gain rewards. Your role is to assess exactly what the buyers target goals are and what their dominant buying motive is.
Tailor the solution
Now you have something to work with. You in a position to tailor a solution to the buyer’s target goals.
This is where so many salespeople get it wrong. They pitch their products and services too early in the process before uncovering the buyer’s needs, assessing the impact and understanding the dominant buying motive. The sales process won’t move forward if the sales pitch does not provide a solution to the buyer’s needs and target goals. If this happens, the buying and selling wheels on the bicycle are misaligned, the process comes to a complete stop. The buyer is not ready to buy which is why you get objections.
You must meet the buyer where they are in the buying cycle. If they have contacted you, chances are they know what their needs are, they understand the impact if they allow the problem to persist or the opportunity to slip away. They know what their target goals are and are ready to buy. They are looking for a provider who will help them achieve their target goals.
Don’t be fooled when a buyer comes to you tell you what they want. You still need to reconfirm what their real needs are because the buyer doesn’t always know this for sure. If you don’t reconfirm what their needs are, you could sell them a solution that doesn’t meet their target goals. No good for them and certainly no good for you if you care about your reputation and repeat business. Your role in the process is to uncover any hidden needs they might have. You do this through effective questioning techniques and drilling down until you are comfortable you can provide the right solution to their problem or opportunity.
Sell the option
After you tailor the solution, you are in a position to sell the option that best suits the buyer’s needs and helps them achieve their target goal. Regardless of the need, what a buyer really wants is to choose a solution that helps them avoid the pain of a problem getting worse or gain the rewards of realizing an opportunity so they reach their target goals.
Evaluate the outcome
If the prospective customer does buy from you, you still need to evaluate the outcome. You have to assess if the solution you provided helped the buyer reach their target goal. If not, it means you either didn’t provide the right solution or the buyer had hidden needs you failed to uncover. Either way, if this happens it won’t reflect well on you.
What you have just learned is to match buying behavior with the selling process.
When you put the buying cycle together with the selling cycle, you get the Bi-Sell-Cycle™. It looks like this.
The buying cycle is the front wheel and the selling cycle is the back wheel. Holding both wheels together is the frame of the bicycle which are all of your communication skills. The ability to build trust and rapport and make that all important connection first before launching into the sales process. Both wheels must turn together throughout to successfully conclude a sale.
The ability to ask effective questions and actively listen to a buyer’s answers makes up the majority of the communication skills you need without which; the sales process will collapse.
On a final note
Build a connection with a prospect before launching into a sales pitch then follow the Bi-Sell-Cycle™ process. If you do, you are far more likely to close a sale.
In a Nutshell
- Build a connection with the buyer before starting the sales process
- Match the selling process with the buying process
- Use a sales process like the Bi-Sell-Cycle™ to keep you on track
- Make sure you totally understand what a buyers needs are
- Ask valid questions to reconfirm a buyers needs are their real needs
- Match your solutions to a buyers target goals
- Evaluate if your solution took away their pain or helped them realize an opportunity
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