To win the Daytona 500 is one stop on the quest for auto racing greatness. To win takes more than just going fast. It requires a carefully crafted plan to drive in the victory lane. Yet I see more and more salespeople who remind me of the losing drivers—just fast and furious, going round and round in circles or hitting a wall. They don’t realize that their lack of a plan is costing them the race. Or more precisely, ad sales deal after ad sales deal.
Let’s use the acronym D.R.I.V.E. to focus in on a potential plan for sales success:
1. Differentiate your product. Price will always become the deciding factor if two products seem similar. You need to work very hard to show the unique qualities of your product and differences from your competition. (This is especially important if your product is more expensive than the competition’s.) You need to differentiate your product during prospecting, hosting sales calls and closing. Don’t allow an apples-to-apples comparison to enter the conversation.
2. Run, don’t walk. Today your clients are not willing to give you much of their valuable time. Most prospective clients see you as a time-stealer from the other things they would rather be doing. So cut to the chase and right upfront promise to not waste their time. Then don’t.
3. Invent on the fly. Be prepared to come to any meeting with great ideas. Then tweak your creative ideas/proposal on the fly. Share new options and pricing variables and try to get buy-in on the spot. Successful salespeople can build a proposal in front of the client on their iPad or a piece of paper and get the ball rolling. Create pricing packages in advance based on common buying scenarios from past customers. Stop thinking your product is too complex for this approach.
4. Value is everything. Customers do not buy when they do not understand the total value you have to offer them. Think more like a teacher than a sales rep. Break your thoughts into simple points. Remove the fluff. Keep it simple. Prove to them the value your ideas and product bring to their business. Proving value also weaves nicely with ROI. Value and showing return on investment are critical to the finish line. All too often salespeople focus on features and not value. A great example is a washing machine. Sure it cleans your jeans. But, the new machines are super efficient, so they save you power, water and ultimately money. Plus, as an added bonus, you are doing your small part to help the environment. See… so much more than just clean jeans.
5. Establish a follow-up protocol. This is the most important part of the D.R.I.V.E. sales process. At the point in the sales meeting when the client says “I need to think about it” or “I need to take the idea to the boss for approval” you need to establish a follow-up protocol with the customer. Caution flag: You cannot leave the protocol up to the customer or you are dead. First, validate that the customer loves your idea/product/proposal and then set your follow-up meetings right then, in your phone. Get the customer to commit on your calendar. Then invite them to the meeting via email. Promise to not be a “typical” sales rep who will call them 1,000 times if they set the next meeting. However, do promise to call at the given time you agree upon and DO NOT miss the call. Try three times to establish follow-up before you give up. If the customer will not set a follow-up meeting you need to ask yourself if you actually have buy-in on your idea/product/proposal.
So think about the components of my D.R.I.V.E. sales plan and figure out ways you can fine-tune your sales engine.
My challenge to you… What will you do different this week to improve your sales?
More about Ryan: Ryan Dohrn is an award winning sales coach and sales trainer. He is also an international motivational speaker and the author of the best selling sales book, Selling Backwards. Ryan is the President and founder of Brain Swell Media, a boutique sales training and sales coaching firm with a detailed focus on sales training and coaching for media and technology companies.
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