So you have fought it out with your competitors in the online market place and won. A nice new shiny lead has arrived in your inbox. Now what do you do? Is your selling process as good as your lead generation? Just by the nature of selling work – more humans than machines involved – I can guarantee there will be room for improvement. However, by following some basic steps, most can make their selling offline good enough to match their selling online.

So where are the gaps? Let’s think through the atrocious selling experience we have all been on the receiving end of.

Here are a few that immediately come to mind:
• The company that never calls you back.
• The sales person who talks, talks and talks about them and what they do, but never listens to what you want.
• The detailed presentation you sit through on the product that does exactly what you don’t want to achieve.
• The sales person who never gives up on the follow-up stage but you still don’t make a decision.

Now let’s work through each with some suggestions on how an optimised sales process could plug these gaps.

#1: The company that never calls you back
You fill in the form on their website or call the office after hours using the phone number you find on their home page and leave a message. Next day – nothing. The following – still nothing. Did they get the message? Did the form actually work? Fortunately, the other two suppliers you contacted that same evening have called and things are underway. So
what went wrong? ‘Lots’ could be the answer. What process do you have when people leave a message? Which form is completed and who is responsible for following these people up?

Web forms that used to work can fail. Yep, while it may have worked last month, your hosting provider could have altered some settings so that what was working before is now broken. Run tests over them if you see a reasonable gap between leads.

#2: The sales person who talks, talks and talks about them and what they do, but never asks what you want
I am in the market for a new car. Such fun. What I have now is ideal for city driving but open road jaunts of a couple of hours are a bit beyond it. Last week I walked onto a car yard and began the purchasing experience. The first sales person I met was the person who I bought my current car from. We exchanged pleasantries and then I told him I was looking for a new car – specifically one model that is the size up from the one I have.

We then walked out into the yard to kick some tyres and sit on some leather. We chatted about this and that. Guess how long we talked about why I needed a car in the first place? About three minutes. I told him I needed one for longer drives – he acknowledged the fact and then carried on presenting another great feature the car has, something to do
with engine facts and figures.

To be honest I can understand – it’s the easy route to take. Asking all those “why” questions is way more difficult than presenting what’s in a brochure. Nevertheless, it’s this work that really uncovers the true meaning behind the purchase. Two hour journeys would be well within the reach of the model I have if it wasn’t for the lack of boot space for all the junk I need to take along. And I would never try carrying two bikes on the roof of my car in case it toppled over. So a bike rack needs to fit neatly on any new purchase. Plus I like listening to music from my iPhone as I totter along. So seeing that the designer of the model up had hidden the auxiliary input jack in the glove box, making it an impossible
challenge to navigate song selection, made this option a complete no go.

All of this resides neatly in the “current situation” section we discussed in the coaching call. All of the great sales people I have met have spent a good 60% of their sales presentation time in this area, asking all they can about what is going on now and why there’s a need in the first place.

#3: The detailed presentation you sit through on the product that does exactly what you don’t want to achieve
This neatly points back to the last point, just to highlight the importance of asking all the right questions to find out
what’s happening now.Personally, I try not to trust my failing memory during this stage. I have taken a nice short cut and written down all the questions I need to find answers to and then work through the relevant ones when we meet people for the first time. In nearly every case the conversation goes off track and I have to refer back to my prompt sheet to ensure that I have
asked everything I should. Why not consider this yourself?

#4: The sales person who never gives up on the follow-up stage but you still don’t make a decision
This can be frustrating for everyone involved. You spend all that time meeting, discussing and being presented to but still you don’t go ahead. The reason? Nobody answered the question “what happens if nothing happens?”

Doing nothing is an incredibly strong force to overcome. It’s almost like we are hardwired to protect the status quo and keep on doing what we are doing. A good sales process recognises this and ensures this question is asked and answered. In some cases the results of inaction are relatively hidden.

Market share slowly declines due to ineffective advertising, machinery gradually becomes less efficient as maintenance steps are avoided, or personal motivation slips down as holidays are missed. By asking “what happens if nothing happens?” you expose the insidious nature of inaction for everyone to be aware of and act upon.

These are just some of the points that can highlight a sales process that’s in need of work. Just thinking of it as a “process” rather than a single “event” is a step in itself. Good luck with your endeavours here. Customers can access the full recording of the coaching call in the members’ area of our website.