Sales people have been at it for years. And as long as sales people have been selling, prospects have been dealing with their cold outreach.
As a result of having to deal with sales people for that long many prospects have developed their own systems to fulfill their own needs.
The goal of this article and of the Sandler Selling System is to level the playing field for sales people. Let’s dive into how you can use a structured selling process to help you solve your clients problems.
Why use the Sandler Selling System?
During a conversation with a potential client there are two systems at work: 1. The prospect’s system and 2. The sales person’s system.
Typically most prospects want to:
- Gather the maximum amount of information
- Delay time to make a decision
- Get the best price
- Keep information close to the heart
If the sales person has no system, the call will default to the prospect’s system. Remember, most prospects developed these systems to protect their time from sales people which can lead to a lot of “I’ll think about it” responses from potential clients.
In order to get a clear “yes” or “no” answer, we recommend you use a structured selling system like the Sandler Selling System.
At its core the system is simple. There are only 5 basic rules to follow:
- Qualify your prospects
- Extract your prospect’s pain
- Verify that you prospect has a budget to solve their pain
- Identify the decision makers
- Match your offering (product or service) to the prospect’s pain
How to Handle Failure Along the Way.
Let’s be honest. Life in sales can be tough. For every 1 “yes” you might hear 20 “no’s”. Failure and rejection are a part of the learning process but that doesn’t make them any easier to bear.
In order to handle the stress and self-doubt that can arise it is important to separate your Identity from your Role.
What does that mean?
Identity is who you are (also known as self-worth) and is rated on a scale of 1-10. You should be able to rate yourself as a 10 at all times.
Role is also rated on a scale of 1-10 and is a reflection of professional accomplishments.
A common mistake is that people accept a role failure as identity failure. When they are unable to close a deal many people take it personally and think of themselves as a failure. It’s a dangerous path to go down! Your own health will suffer as will your sales performance.
In order to avoid tying role success to self worth you can think of sales as a game with a set of defined rules. Each sales call is another attempt at succeeding at the game. With each failure you learn something new that you can apply to your next attempt.
Quick Tips for Sales.
As you are getting started in your development as a sales person here are a few tips to help build a strong sales foundation:
- Stay on the right side of the trouble line. This means that sales work takes place between 9-5 and admin work takes place outside of those hours.
- No back up plan. Keeps you motivated.
- Don’t practice in front of your prospects. The same way you don’t play 18 holes the first time that you go golfing but you go to the driving range to practice.
- DO NOT take “I want to think it over” as an answer.
- Maintain a healthy self-esteem. You will only perform as well as you think you will.
- Cultivate a support group.
- Know when to use your product knowledge. Don’t sell features! A great rule of thumb is to sell today, educate tomorrow.
- Know your competition.
- Keep a journal and monitor how you are feeling in terms of identity and role.
- Work a prospecting system where 80% of time is spent with existing clients and 20% is spent trying to find new clients.
- Use a system for selling.
The Sandler Selling System.
To deliver more value and solve your customer’s problems you can use Sandler’s step-by-step selling process as outlined below.
Setting Up an Up Front Contract.
Think of this as a mutual agreement up front. You must explicitly communicate your offer and your terms. If you and your prospect can both agree on an up front contract you will be able to avoid misunderstandings and work towards a common goal.
A great use of an up front contract is a mutually agreed upon meeting agenda that consists of 5 components:
- Time allotted
- Your role to get us to the objective
- The prospect’s role to get us to the objective
You can use these contracts for anything to help you set and manage expectations as you work with current and potential future clients.
Pain is a feeling that we all want to avoid. To help make the sale you need to uncover and find a way to solve your prospect’s pain.
The progression for a prospect looks like the following:
Well -> hurt -> sick -> critical -> miracle
Remember that you aren’t a psychologist and do not want to uncover so much pain that your prospect is embarrassed and doesn’t work with you after feeling “not-OK”.
If you are able to successfully able to uncover pain the prospect will sell themselves on your offering.
The same way a millionaire would not dance around the question of money is the same way you should approach talking about budget. Do not leave it for the last minute.
As people buy emotionally it is important to uncover pain up front. Once you have finished identifying the pain you can ask the prospect for their budget “in a round number” which softens the ask.
If you receive objections you can try asking where their budget might fall in a range.
A few quick tips when talking budget:
- Don’t lower your price as it will also decrease your image of yourself, do it for free instead if you can afford to.
- Try using a “monkey’s paw” to close more clients. Lead with a low cost valuable service to get your foot in the door before offering the client a large ticket item.
- Don’t make your prospect so uncomfortable that you lose the sale. You may need to work with a wider range.
Qualify Your Prospects Decision Making Abilities.
Each potential client is different. One night 2 days to buy and another 2 weeks. One firm may have 1 key decision maker and the next could have 7.
As you go through your sales process ensure that you identify who are the decision makers. Those are the people that you want to work with to ensure that you can secure a sale.
When you are doing this keep your prospect comfortable through the process and review and validate the pain and budget with each subsequent discussion.
If you are unable to reach all decision makers you can even rehearse the pitch with your prospect so that they can socialize it internally within the company.
Fulfill The Contract And Let Your Prospect Close the Sale.
You can do pulse checks to see how your prospect feels about your offering on a scale of 1-10. If not above 7 at this point you may have done something wrong during the pain step.
Try asking what it would take to get them to a 10 and try to handle those objections to help the prospect convince themselves that your offering will solve their pain.
Once that prospect is close to a 10, ask “what would you like me to do now?” and have them close the sale themselves.
Post Sales Step (Avoid Buyer’s Remorse).
Try using a 3rd party story to express your feelings. (Nancy = the prospect’s name)
Ex. “One of my former clients, Bob, had misgivings about our product but waited until after the deal was closed to raise his concerns. It was a poor experience for Bob as he paid cancellation fees and a poor experience for myself as I thought we would be able to solve his problem. I’d like to avoid the same experience for both of us, Nancy. Can you promise me that we’ll address any final issues now and not later?”
By using an up front contract you can have your prospect agree to share any misgivings. In addition, you can even raise certain compromises reached during the sales process to ensure that the prospect still feels that their problem can be solved despite any compromises.
“You wouldn’t want to cancel because of the change agreed upon, would you, Nancy?”
By proactively addressing potential buyers remorse you can avoid the dreaded calls or emails after the sale where a customer cancels the deal after getting buyers remorse.
At the end of the day sales success will be driven by your attitude.
“A positive attitude can make dreams come true”. – David Bailey
A positive attitude combined with a sales system will improve your closing rate exponentially and help you get new clients.