The traditional sales cycle is always based on the concept of actually “selling” a product to someone. This typically includes the stages of:
Approaching the customer.
Researching the customer’s needs.
Presenting the product.
Closing the sale.
The problem with this system is that it is based on the seller’s interest to sell, and not on the buyer’s need to buy. It is usually based on a purely logical system that is focused on selling the product’s features and on the salesperson trying to create a need for this product in the customer’s mind based on its features. Obviously this can create resistance from the buyer.
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The basic, and widely used, system consists of five steps:
In the first stage – approaching the customer – traditional salespeople usually get straight to the point – the sale – without thinking about the need to build a personal relationship first of all. Therefore, the salesperson is not perceived as a person, but as a representative of an organization that wants to take money out of the customer’s pocket!
At the inquiry stage most salespeople subject the customer to a process perceived by the customer as the “third degree” – the salesperson directs a series of direct and often impertinent questions trying to find out what the customer’s needs are. While the salesperson’s intent may be good, the actual result may be that the customer perceives it in a bad way. Since this occurs early in the interview, it can often influence the tone of the rest of the interview.
In the product presentation stage, there is usually a presentation of product features from the point of view of the company and the salesperson, not from the point of view of the customer’s needs, wants and wants.
The stage of refuting the customer’s objections is often seen as a “mind game” between the salesperson and the customer and frequently involves half-lies, evasions, incomplete answers or big lies. There are certain types of customers who have to ask seemingly “dumb” questions.
Closing the sale, for Brownlee & Associates, implies that the customer has little or nothing to do in this process – if the salesperson knows a range of closing techniques very well, any customer is going to buy their products. In many sales courses and in actual selling the intention is to close all doors so that the customer cannot escape and has no choice but to buy the product, “trapped with no way out”, with all that this implies for future relationships.
Basically this process has been used and refined by large multinational companies over the past twenty years and many buyers today are so sophisticated that they can anticipate any step of the game and plan their responses.
The modern buying cycle is designed around the practical use of psychological and psychotherapy techniques.
– Obtain and retain the customer’s attention on a subconscious level through the application of a range of psychotherapy techniques, which include ways to show the customer that you are paying attention to them and focused 100% on them, using verbal and non-verbal techniques.
– Create customer interest in your product as the solution to their specific problems, not only on the basis of their needs, but also their wants and desires. It is imperative that the salesperson shows real interest in the customer as a person and not just as a source of income.
– The third step is to convince the customer of the advantages and benefits of your product over those of your competitors. This requires skills related to language proficiency and flexibility in its use.
– The penultimate step is to create a desire for the product, both for a solution to the current problem, and for the product, the seller and the company as solution providers for future problems.
– Finally, the salesperson asks for the purchase decision and agrees on the next steps, without the use of magic “closing” formulas to corner the customer, leaving the door open for the customer to make his or her own decision.
The interpersonal/emotional part of the buying/selling process has been shown in many research studies to account for 35% of the purchase reasoning.
Only 30% of the reasons are logical – based on characteristics. The rest – 35% – are based on filling customer gaps, both logical and emotional.
Today most customers are less interested in features and more interested in solutions to their particular problems. Most are also interested in starting and maintaining a medium- to long-term relationship with suppliers. Any sales system that forgets this is doomed to failure.
A key point in this system is the use of Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques to understand the way people process the world. Not everyone thinks or interprets the world in the same way – knowing how each customer processes their world helps the salesperson to enter into it, understand it and use this knowledge to help the customer buy the product in the most appropriate way.