So much of the challenge of dealing with rejection that anybody involved in selling has to confront is about managing a bruised ego.
“Ego” is a Latin and Greek word meaning “I“, often used in English to mean the “self”. The view of this blog is to persuade you of the benefits of taking the ego out of selling and to deal with selling activity as if you are managing a process.
Any basic process model depicts inputs and outputs. In the sales context outputs are sales performance measures vs. target. Input is the relevant activity which makes success happen.
This obviously starts with taking time to define a standard sales process. We would suggest looking at this as a matter of persuasion points by which you move a prospect though a stage or stages in the process.
A generic model that you might want to adopt as a start point to define your own specific process is the one articulated by Neil Rackham, author of SPIN:
Our own sales process has 4 persuasion points or gateways.
Persuasion point 1:Persuading the prospect to have an initial meeting with us.
Persuasion point 2:Persuading the prospect to place a relevant delegate on one of our open workshops.
Persuasion point 3:Persuading the prospect to have a follow up meeting with us.
Persuasion point 4: Persuading the prospect to allocate budget to run an in-house workshop or putting paid delegates on one of our open workshops.
Our job as sales people is to focus on the key activities in each stage of the process or persuasion points that will make success happen thereby moving prospects through each part of the process. You can evaluate each customer touch point by asking: ‘did I get an advancement’ ? i.e. Have I moved the prospect through one or more stages of the process?
Even if we have objectively noted our sales process down and have a mindset that focuses on the key activities that will move our prospects though each part of the process, we still have to overcome aspects of ‘activity illusion’. Activity illusion is the term we use for those activities that keep us busy but aren’t those that move our prospect through our sales process. The key question always is are we talking to the right person or people at each stage of the process rather than the people we just feel comfortable talking to? Do they have the money (budget) the authority, need and desire to make a decision to move through the sales process to eventually place an order?
An objective bone-honest assessment is needed to give ourselves the best feedback to ensure we are spending our time optimally.
I started this blog by stating its purpose was to denote the benefit of viewing our work as sales people as a process so that it takes the ego out of the equation. Prospects are not pushing back against you as an individual (self /ego) but against the process or your proposition itself. Using empathy and attunement will make us quickly realise that very few of our prospects wake up with our proposition front of their minds. Therefore a relentless focus on keeping on top of our communications with prospects is vital. Having an eye on the detail on every advancement we get in clarifying the next engagement point. A general commitment to catch up with a call is not good enough and will end with the prospect caught in an endless game of telephone tag – sound familiar? The recommendation is to ensure that when we have left an engagement we have detailed the next step(s) with the prospect.
When (confirm this even if it is a call with an electronic invite)
Who (do they have the money, authority, need and desire) and
What (what is the next step to move the prospect through to the next stage). If we have not managed to do this we are in ‘activity illusion’ and not where we think we are!
Love the sales process and judge yourself by the quality and quantity of inputs you are making, as this is what makes success happen.