Author: Tim Morris, The Alternative Board Ivel Valley
One of my members, a local business owner, once wanted to talk about his sales process, and how he was concerned that while he was hitting a lot of his targets for calls, follow up calls and face to face meetings, he was just not getting the business that he thought he should for all of the effort he was expending. He wanted to ask me if an approach using a Sandler type model would work for him, or whether the issue was that his sales resource couldn’t effectively close.
We spent a little time talking through some of his results and I recounted once seeing Joe Ades AKA the gentleman potato peeler salesman working a crowd in New York. We talked about how his technique was very similar to the Sandler method.
When we make contact with people at Network events, conferences, through referrals or cold calling, we tend to be good at stimulating initial interest, typically by talking about what we do and how we help others.
If these opportunities that we create have a tendency to peter out, or just not move to a close, this is generally because we have not qualified them adequately before moving them on to the next stage. This results in wasted effort and a sales team who begin to doubt the product, or more often the price.
Learning Sales from a Market Trader
When I think about sales methodology, I like to look at the most established methods in the world, and a market trader is in this category. Their ‘patter’ or sales methodology is the result of the combined wisdom of thousands of years of trading and we could all benefit from a trip to a market to watch some of the best salesmen and women in the world.
Step 1: Showing Prospects They Have a Need
When a market trader starts a pitch they may say something like ‘come a little closer, I don’t want to shout and I’ve got something interesting to show you’. This is their way of engaging with prospects and building rapport.
What comes next often appears to be a demonstration of his product, like peeling dicing and shaping potatoes with a simple tool. At this stage in most Salesman’s process they are pulling out a laptop and describing all the benefits of their product. This ‘PowerPoint pitch’ is a misinterpretation of what this step entails. Actually, what the market trader is doing is much more subtle. They will ask questions like ‘when you peel a potato, is it as fast as this ?’, or ‘can you use your tool in both the left and right hand?’ etc. In asking questions, they are identifying a need or a pain point with the prospects, for example by pointing out that despite owning expensive equipment the prospect still can’t create chips like the solution on offer can.
Step 2: Establishing Budget and Authority
The next stage is equally important. Having gathered a good crowd and made them excited about the solution to their problem, he further qualifies his prospects, usually by asking ‘who has got £10 to spend here today?’ When he gets a show of hands, he may go one step further by saying something like, ‘don’t put your hand up, show me the money. The first ten people waving a £10 note will get a very special deal this afternoon’. In this step, he is qualifying that firstly, they are prepared to pay to find a solution to the problem that he has identified, and secondly that they have budget and authority to proceed.
This is the step that is often missed, particularly in the UK where we seem reticent to talk about money.
Step 3: Spend Resource On The Right Leads
There is nothing more frustrating than spending a considerable amount of time defining a problem, recommending a solution, and even creating a proposal only to find that there is ‘no-budget’. In many organisations I see ‘pre sales’ or Business Development resource spent chasing leads that have no real prospect of closing, creating disillusionment and a high cost of sales, but asking for a ‘no’ is a difficult thing for an enthusiastic sales guy to do.
Once a need has been identified, and a budget holder determined, the market traders demo steps up a pace, and the Trader demonstrates his credibility, and the credibility of his product, but this is only done once an appropriate audience has been assembled.
Once the trader has concluded the demonstration, we come to the close, if the job has been done well there does not seem to be a closing ‘step’ at all. Having established the need, identified the budget holder and decision maker, and once he has demonstrated that the need can be adequately satisfied by the solution offered the movement to a sale is the most natural thing in the world.
What makes market traders really successful is that they have a well defined sales process; highly scripted, to the point that it appears very natural. Their leads are qualified very early and the traders ‘performance’ is only targeted at those who have been qualified, and prices are clear and non negotiable.
So can a Sales process bring great results? You bet…
Apply The Market Trader Sales Process To Your Business
Whether you run a small baker or an IT firm, any business owner can apply these three steps to your sales process. Here they are again:
- Identify the customer’s need
- Establish that they have the authority and the budget to continue
- Only spend your resources such as demonstrations and business cases on quality leads
Why not go over these steps with your team? Or consider hiring a business coach and mentor to help you consolidate the process.