How to Win the Sale Before Winning the Order

Making-a-SaleGuest blogger Andy Paul shares success secrets for every step of your prospects’ buying process.

“How you sell is more important than what you sell.”

How is not about style, but is about substance: how you follow up sales leads, how you ask the questions that define the customer’s requirements, how responsive you are to customer requests, how quickly and completely you provide information and answers to your prospects.”

These are a couple of my favorite quotes from Andy Paul’s refreshing new book, Amp Up Your Sales: Powerful Strategies That Move Customers to Make Fast, Favorable Decisions. Andy’s clear writing, stories, examples, challenges, and reminders would appeal to anyone interested in the topic. But he really got my attention by asking the key question: how.

We all know there are multiple phases of the buying process. So how do we get customers into the sales pipeline, and just as importantly, how do we keep them there?

Andy reminds us that customers no longer enter the sales funnel at the top. Today’s buyers often have the information they need, so they enter the funnel halfway down—which has changed how we sell to them. The key to engaging prospects at this stage is responsiveness: What information can you provide to help them make quick and informed decisions?

In this week’s No More Cold Calling guest post, Andy shares critical relationship-building tips for every step of your prospects’ buying process. Here’s what he has to say:

“One key to amping up your sales is to focus your efforts on winning the sale before you win the order.

Prospects make up their minds about which seller they want to do business with well before they make the final decision about which product or service to buy. That moment prospects decide you are the seller with whom they want to do business is called winning the sale.

But don’t celebrate—you haven’t won the order.

Yet.

Once you’ve won the sale, if you can support your prospect through the rest of his or her decision-making process with high-value sales interactions, your odds of winning the order are pretty high. From that moment forward, your competitors will be wasting their precious time fighting for second place. And they won’t even know it.

Here are three key steps to help you win the sale—and the order:

1)  Make a positive first impression. Winning the sale is as much about perception as substance. Your prospects make judgments about you, your company, and the solution you offer based on the value you deliver to them at the beginning of your sales process. So your responsiveness and the value you provide during initial interactions with a prospect are crucial for differentiating yourself from the competition.

Based on that pre-sales experience with you, prospects will make a snap assessment about what it would be like to work with you and your company. Once the prospect has formed a positive perception of you, you’ve moved closer to winning the order.

I remember one sales opportunity early in my career where I won the sale six months before I received the actual order. From that point forward, my competitors still believed they were in the race. But they were fighting for second place.

2)  Treat every sales touch with equal importance. Winning the sale can happen during any step of the buying process, and you can’t usually predict when it will happen. The prospect’s first perceptions of you are extremely powerful—and extremely sticky, making them difficult to change, for better or worse. So be prepared to create the best impression possible every single time you interact with the prospect.

For example, a company was looking for a new office phone system. The team did their online research, narrowed the field of possible vendors down to four companies, and placed calls to each of them. Only one salesperson, Jackie, followed up within the same business day. She had her first face-to-face meeting with the prospect before any of the other sellers even responded. Based on the speed of her responsiveness and the value she delivered during that initial interaction, she won the sale on the first call—and received the big order three weeks later.

3)  Execute a value plan for every sales touch. To deliver maximum value, plan every sales interaction with a prospect in advance. I suggest creating a Value Plan before each and every sales touch.

A Value Plan has two elements:

  1. A Goal that is defined in terms of the value you will deliver to the prospect.
  2. An Outcome that is defined in terms of the next steps the prospect will commit to take based on receiving value from you.

At a minimum, your Goal must be to provide prospects with information of sufficient value that will enable them to move at least one step closer to making a decision.

If you don’t have a Value Plan for a sales touch, don’t do it! Don’t trick yourself into believing you can just wing it in front of prospects and help them make decisions quickly. A sales touch is a time for preparation, not improvisation. You can’t afford to waste prospects’ time with empty sales touches that have no value to them. Do that too often and you’ll find they have no more time to give you.

Commit to the discipline of sales planning that will result in winning the sale. It can take a long time to get an order. But it doesn’t take long to win the sale.”

andy-photo-aboutAbout the Author

Andy Paul is CEO and founder of Zero-Time Selling, Inc., and author of Amp Up Your Sales: Powerful Strategies That Move Customers to Make Fast, Favorable Decisions. When you order your copy now, you will get instant access to Andy’s 6-part video series with sales giants Jill Konrath, Jeffrey Gitomer, Anthony Iannarino, Art Sobczak, and more on concrete strategies you can use right away to amp up your sales. Learn more here.

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