Successful Sales: Review and Planning
Well, this is it — the last of the Successful Sales series.Over the course of this series, the previous articles brought you to the pointof gaining an agreement from your customer to purchase your products. By now,you should almost be a master of the sales process. Now is the time for thatone last important step.
Time for Review
Immediately after the successful sale of your product (orservice), you should review the steps and the events that led up to capturingthe order. By replaying these events you will be in a much better position torepeat those steps that were the most critical in the success with the nextclient you approach.
Document what worked well and what didn’t go so well duringkey points of the sales cycle:
* DidI clearly outline the benefits, not just the features, of my products/services?
* DidI effectively add to the important “relationship” aspect when workingwith the customer?
* WasI prepared to ask the best questions and get the customer talking about what isimportant to him/her?
* DidI uncover enough specific areas of need that I can readily address with myproducts and services?
* WasI fully prepared to negotiate the details of the sale at the point that Ireceived the order?
* Whatshould I change the next time I am presenting the strengths of my company andmy products/services?
A review of the process, addressing these types ofquestions, will likely prepare you more for the next call on this customer andfor future calls on new customers. Identify the answers to the review questionsabove, and plan for your next opportunity with this customer. If you answered”no” to any of the first five questions above, make it a point to getthose answered for your next opportunity in front of the customer.
Assuming you did a good job asking questions, most times youwere able to take a couple of notes on additional sales opportunities for thefuture. This review will also improve your overall success rate in the salessequence with your other customers as well. For example, let’s assume that youroriginal objective when calling on this customer was to gain an order for yourcollection of “new and different” specialty annuals with acustom-designed, unique packaging/marketing program. When you asked open-endedquestions about what is important to the buyer, with regard to key beddingplant suppliers, you took notes that indicated they have a strong need for aunique herb garden program. These specific opportunities, and others that youcaptured in writing, are excellent topics for your next sales call andagreement objective. In other words, after you have finalized the sale of yourspecialty annual and marketing program, you can approach this customer againwith an idea for an herb program custom-designed specially for Á thatcustomer. Both parties benefit, and you gain a long-term customer that sees younot only as innovative but, more importantly, attuned to their needs.
There are efficiencies for the retailer when conductingbusiness with fewer vendors. We are familiar with some growers who listenclosely to their customers and seek to provide solutions to issues that theyuncovered, and their share of the business grows faster than they could haveimagined.
At the beginning of this series, we asked the question,”What is the next big area of the wholesale growing business that, whenimproved, will provide more profit dollars?” Your investments intomechanization and improved workflow have paid off well, but will the next bestinvestment in production efficiencies begin to run into the law of diminishingreturns? And when it does, will you be ready with ideas, program and talent tomount a successful sales strategy?
Now, turn your focus to the sales process. The immediate andpowerful benefits of improvements in this area are two main things:
* Abetter understanding of your customer.
* Furtheringyour relationship with this customer, which is the foundation of a long-term,profitable business.
As business owners or managers, chances are, you deal withmany sales people every day who are trying to sell you something. Think aboutthat person who does the best job for you; what skills and attributes do theypresent that you feel are a true asset to your business’ growth? It’s not justprice, but the overall value that cause people to buy, and the overall value istheir experience. It’s difficult to add value when you have no realrelationship with the person who needs to understand this.
So the most important thing that we can leave you with, atthe close of this series, is to be thorough and pay attention to thoserelationships.