exselling®: the 6 tasks that are needed to sell
Before the Internet, mobile technologies and social networks, selling was easier.
There were no websites or user blogs to visit, and customers knew about products and services from a single, main source: their suppliers.
However, today a customer usually knows more and better a product or service (and that of its competitors) than the supplier itself.
With a simple touch on their mobile or tablet, prospects may decide to become or not customers of any given product or service... without its supplier even being aware of this.
Today, to sell, we have to work harder than a few years ago.
There are 6 tasks that are essential to sell, but most sales initiatives do not do them, or do them improperly.
This is the problem that prevents sales from happening as expected, and that is what the method I designed - exselling® - is intending to solve.
Next, I briefly describe the 6 key tasks that I perform in my sales method.
Aligning the product or service you provide with the target market (s) is a task that is almost never done, and yet it is key for customers in those markets to better understand your value proposition.
It is not enough to use commercial material made in origin. You have to «tune in» with the culture, idiosyncrasy and, in some cases, the language or language turns of the targeted place.
And, often, new material that is relevant to the market or even to the vertical segment of a given market, might also be made from scratch.
This is a time-consuming and demanding task, but it is very important as a differentiating element ... precisely because almost none of your competitors takes the pain of doing this job.
If there is a task in sales that is mandatory and should be done continuously, it is market prospecting.
The only way to capture real sales opportunities is to try time and again to identify them, knowing in advance that oftentimes we will get a «No» for an answer, and only from time to time the answer will be a «Yes».
Prospecting has four characteristics, three of them make almost all people who are in sales hate to do it.
The first is that it is a tedious task: you have to contact many people, repeat your sales message with each contact, while doing inasmuch as possible with the same enthusiasm you put on your first time.
The second characteristic of prospecting is that it is an ungrateful task: many «No» and few «Yes».
The third feature is that it consumes a lot of time: it is not possible to abbreviate or shorten the sales message, nor to try «shortcuts» of any kind. With each contact we must use the time it takes to present the product or service, to answer questions, and to coordinate next steps. All this can almost never be done in few minutes.
And the fourth feature is that it is essential to sell. We are not fortune tellers, we have no way of knowing beforehand who our qualified prospects will be and who will not (the majority ends up not being so). That's why it is so important to do continuous prospecting ... whether we like it or not.
In my method I do not use the term «followup» when I refer to this task, which complements that of continuous prospecting.
Today it is no longer enough for us to identify potential clients, and get in touch with them with from time to time through email, telephone or face-to-face or web meetings.
Selling has long since ceased to be a linear, unidirectional process (from the provider to the channel and from the channel to the customer), to becoming a process similar to that occurring in a network with its own life, where the interactions are multidirectional, and they occur among multiple actors that influence our sales results.
Today, in addition to our channels and competitors, there are other agents that positively and negatively affect our efforts to sell. Government in its various functional units, facilitators (individuals and institutions), social networks, user groups, etc.
In such a complex context, we must be able to build and cultivate our own system, formed not only by our channels but also by several of those other agents.
In my exselling® method, I call this system the «commercial ecosystem».
The channels themselves almost never do presale in a thorough fashion, at least not at the start of a sales program.
They do not do presale properly for one of two possible reasons.
The first is that, if channels are good enough, it means that they know how to sell and therefore they're already selling other products and services before a new supplier (you) proposes them to sell the new supplier's product or service. And even if a channel of this profile agrees to represent you, in their day-to-day they will get absorbed by many other tasks, such as keep selling what they're already selling well, or in supporting their existing customers or in solving problems that continually arise. The end result is that such channels will assign low priority to selling your own product or service, and sales will be sporadic ... or none at all.
The second reason why a channel might not do presale is that they don't know how to do it ... at least, how to do it effectively. The channel may not be compatible with your product or service, because it lacks sufficient resources to sell it, or for any other reason. The result will be the same: few or no sales.
To sell well in a market, you have to know who is who in that market. You've got to know who and where are your competitors, and who are those other agents that may favor or hinder your attempts to sell.
And, of course, you've got to know who and where are your potential customers in that market.
This may seem a truism, but is amazing to see how many sales initiatives are being carried out without previously having investigated (reasonably) the terrain, before embarking on their sales activities.
It is true that good market reports - similar to those offered by reputable consulting firms such as Gartner®, Boston Consulting Group® or Forrester® - are very expensive, and for many micro and small businesses such reports would represent a luxury they cannot afford.
But it is also true that without a "situation map" of the market where we are trying to sell, we will walk like in the fog (and without warning lights).
To solve this problem, in my method I use an own-developed tool which allows, in a simple way and almost without cost (of time), to know the market and its key agents, and to detect their most significant moves as regards to their impact on our commercial performance. In this way, based on the readings of events in a market, we can always make adjustments to our sales plan as we deem them appropriate to implement.
I use a cloud-based CRM (at no cost to you), in which I keep tracking of everything that happens during the sales program progress, and all the data we need to do the job.
As part of this sixth task of my method, I keep this CRM updated on an ongoing basis, thus being able to quickly act upon any situation that so requires.