Emotional Intelligence-Sales Process

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To understand the psychology of selling, the first step is to envisage various steps and probable process of sales. We will discuss the normal sales process in any normal big-ticket sales order or in project sales. However, there could be small changes depending on the industry, customer choices, ways of deciding the order( e.g many customers these days may go in for the reverse auction, tenders or forward auction). But more or less the process remains the same as we shall discuss today.

Prospecting: Many may argue that there is one more step before prospecting i.e, suspecting. But this step may not be always applicable. Suspecting is when you assume as everyone can buy from you and you are trying to create a market place for the product you are about to launch. Here you mainly try to gather maximum information from the market and try to understand the customer tastes, likes and the trend in the industry. Prospecting is actually generating some leads which may be closed into orders as you successfully complete the subsequent steps. Many channels are used by super salesperson to generate inquiries or leads. It normally starts with generating a database for a particular industry, subscribing to various sources of new projects coming up, industry directories, past users, enrolment with consultants, contractors of the relevant field, manufacturers, tenders, referrals, and other means. Once a database is generated, getting in touch with the contact over the telephone/fixing appointments, e-mailing, social contacts. and establishing contact with the right people at the right time and with the right message.

Connecting and Building rapport: The second step is building emotional connections with the various stakeholders (Purchaser, End-user, consultant, architect if any, contractor and influencer). This is very common in a typical industrial, high ticket or project sales. In this you arrange for an initial meeting with the stakeholder. A super salesperson tries to understand the buying patterns and processes, gain control, lower the emotional barriers and basically sets the ball rolling towards the next step. In this step, you gauge the contact and try to qualify him. Both the stakeholder and salesperson get a fair idea if it makes sense to move ahead or not. If the contact is fairly qualified, the key here as a salesperson is to generate interest, build trust and credibility so that stakeholders feel the need to go onto the next step.

Strengthening your case: This is the most important step in the sales process. Here you ask a lot of questions without stakeholders getting to feel that you are interrogating and do lots of empathetic listening. Gathering maximum information tactfully ( yes this is an art/skill to elicit information as many a times the stakeholders conceal a lot of things or even misguide) about the present situation, problems faced by the stakeholders, their pain points, consequences faced due to these problems and how best your product/solution or service can solve them. A super salesperson asks powerful, provocative and sometimes, even challenging questions to build their case and to get them out of the comfort zone. The whole idea is to create self-awareness in the minds of the stakeholders and get them to act faster. You strengthen your belief about the stakeholders for their place at the top of your sales funnel.

Presentation: another very important step in the sales process. You try and convince the stakeholders thro’ technical presentations, testimonials, offerings, etc that your product/solution or service is the most optimum and best suited to their requirements. You build informal bridges that motivate the prospect to move forward to the next step. It is in this step that the super salespersons differentiate themselves, products or solutions offered by them from the competition and think from the prospect’s point of view ( empathy) rather than their own.

Ask for the next step:  in the next step, the customer might ask for a factory visit, visit an installation of similar equipment made by the supplier to other customers, references, etc. If the prospect asks and completes all or some of these tasks, you can assume that you are playing your cards right till now (although this will not guarantee the closure of order in your favor) and the stakeholders are reasonably engaged.

From the salesperson’s point of view also, asking is one of the most important skills in the sales process. Because unless you ask for what you want, you will not get it. You may have to ask yourself some or all of the above tasks to check the stake holder’s engagement ( For more information on stakeholder engagement kindly read my earlier blog   https://www.shrikantmambike.com/emotional-intelligence-sales-testing-prospects-for-engagements/) Super salespeople find it easy to ask because they have earned the right to ask.

The key to moving ahead to the next step is to follow the case-specific sales process, develop emotional connections with the stakeholders, listen, built relevant bridges thereby increasing confidence in closing the order in their favor.

Turn around objections:  Many times when competition senses that you are getting stronger in a particular case, they try and influence the stake holder’s mind against you and the objections raised by them may be the result of such negative tactics. E.g questions like after-sales service, or technical points, or raising a non-issue of the breakdown of an installation at other customer’s places (which actually could be site related problems or issues not related to the product, etc). Objections can be anything related to supply in a particular segment, company position in the market, financial condition, etc and more often than not stem from the handy work of the competition. Yes, many a time stakes holders may have some genuine concerns and hence the objections.

A super salesperson welcomes objections and is not afraid of those. He/she has a firm conviction and confidence about self, product or service and the company they are representing. They are convinced that objections are a sign of stakeholder being suitably engaged and interested.

Closing and Execution: This is where the super salesperson wins the order making more often than not a Win-Win situation for both the parties. Before closing often several rounds of negotiations take place. (Negotiations in itself is a Hugh topic in sales, more of that on a series of blogs later).

Once the order is closed on mutually agreed terms it is the responsibility of the Salesperson with the help of support staff and factory to get the same executed in the smoothest manner and hold true to all the promises given during earlier stages of the process. Order execution will involve steps such as preparing internal work orders, informing the factory for technical details, drawings asking for an advance from the customer, co-ordinating with accounts and finance for BG, if any, etc.

After Sales Service:  Just closing the order does not end the work of the salesperson for that particular case. He needs to coordinate with factory/ service department, line up engineers for site inspection, and act as a bridge between the customer and his own people.

Once the supply is completed and equipment is commissioned, it is the responsibility of the sale person at least initially, to co-ordinate with the customer service department for any requirement of support from the customer’s end. After-sales service and account management is the key to customer satisfaction and your repeat business depends majorly on this one very crucial factor and go in a long way towards retaining customers, developing long and cordial relationships, and growing revenue for the company.

Referrals and Testimonials:  Assuming that you have executed the order smoothly and the customer is reasonably happy with the whole process, you have kept all the promises you made during the sales process, there are no major issues, then you have the face to ask for some testimonials and even referrals (as they may know to be in the same industry, that is how word of mouth publicity helps) who may require same or similar rating of equipment.

A super salesperson will first understand the case-specific sales process and very diligently follow it. He is also fully aware of the fact that sales will happen only if their sales process matches the buying process of the prospect.

Coming up next buying process of the prospect….. Stay tuned…

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