Sales excellence, like other areas in your company requires adherence to specific process steps to achieve a favorable outcome. There are many great sales models that clearly outline the consultative or strategic sales process. Over the years, we have taught the following 7-step strategic selling process:
The 7 steps in the process are as follows:
- Qualify and Target the Right Prospects (from the universe of possibilities)
- Make initial contact and perform needs analysis
- Send strategic communications (to build trust and rapport)
- Develop proposal and make presentation (in person)
- Address objections, negotiate as needed, and close the deal
- Add value through account management
- Ask for referrals
For this article, I want to address the importance of Step 4 of the process – developing and presenting your proposal and solution. Many specialty contractors who desire negotiated work hire estimators (disguised with the title of salespeople) who have not been trained in consultative or strategic sales techniques. Because they haven’t been trained, the usual process is they wait to receive an inbound call or request, perform the take off’s or assessment (depending on type of job) and then prepare a bid (or estimate). To make matters worse, they call the customer and take the bait of “just send it over” and do exactly that. Now, let me be clear. This method can and does work. It just requires a great deal of effort with a low win rate of estimates (often 15-30% depending on your market pricing).
Strategic salespeople conversely never “phone it in”. They recognize and treasure the opportunity to show their solution for the customer (not a bid or estimate) to meet the customer needs, desires, or challenge they face. Their win rate is usually over 60% while their goal is always 100%. While this may seem not possible to you, that is the value of working a sales process. If you have done your job correctly with each step, getting the client to say “yes” to your excellent solution to their needs is the logical end.
Let’s take a minute and discuss 6 main components of any great proposal. Inclusion of these will increase your credibility and win rates.
Section # 1 - Client challenge/opportunity and/or stated needs
In this section, you should clearly state the issues that the client desires from your needs analysis phase. Be specific. Make a list or explain using paragraph form.
Section # 2 – The investment for your solution
That’s right. Put the price in your proposal upfront, not in the back. Burying the price last means you don’t have confidence in your value or didn’t perform your needs analysis correctly to understand their budget. Buyers understand there is cost associated with a product or solution. Explain the price in light of the value of your solution.
Section # 3 - Your Solution
Explanation of how your product and service meets the client’s needs and expectations. If the client has multiple needs, then list them one by one.
Section # 4 – Implementation Plan
This section can be simple or detailed depending on the complexity of the project and phases. It can also show process steps, schedules, etc. as needed to demonstrate your competency in this area.
Section # 5 – Technical Specs
While optional, this section is for the technical user or buyer who desires to know more detailed information on the products you plan on using. Once again, the more complex the project, the more this section is valuable.
Section # 6 – Company information
In this section, you can put company marketing collateral designed to show competency in the respective services and products you offer. This section is also optional as the prospect has most likely already decided on your competence by calling you. However, many sales are complex and have multiple buyers, inclusion of this material may be helpful for those not familiar with your company.
“Phoning it in” is the surest way to waste your money and the slowest way to grow your business. It produces poor sales results, turnover in sales roles (especially if you pay on commission on gross margin), and low morale.
Training your staff in strategic selling techniques will increase the following:
- Sales / Overall revenue
- The long-term value of a client
- Earnings for your sales staff
The new year is fast approaching. Investing into your sales team should be one of your top priorities. If you’d be interested in learning more about our online sales training course coming out next year or to join the wait list, please sign up (below) and we will provide you with more information. If you can’t wait and want to explore other training options please reach out and we can discuss how to take your sales team to the Next Level!