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The 6 Steps of Successful Selling - Parts 2 & 3

by Robert Garment, Executive Editor | March 22, 2006
Last week we started to examine the six steps to successful selling. While this may seem rudimentary to you battle-hardened sales pros, growing companies need to grow their sales staff and often bring in "green" recruits.
This information is to help you help train them, so pay attention! Last week we covered Step 1, Planning and Preparation. This week it's on to Steps 2 & 3.

The 6 Steps of The Sale
1. Planning and Preparation
2. The Introduction or Opening
3. Questioning and Probing
4. The Presentation
5. Overcoming Objections and Roadblocks
6. Negotiating and Closing

Step 2 - The Introduction or Opening
- If you did your Preparation thoroughly, then be confident you are well-prepared, and remember: you are a professional.
- Who, What & Why - Assume your prospect knows nothing about you, your company, or your products or services. Introduce yourself and provide an overview of what your company does (be sure this is designed to appeal to the prospect's strategic issues).
- Get to the point - during a first-time meeting with a prospect you may feel the need to "break the ice" with small talk, if so keep it short, get serious and get down to business fast. This will show that you respect your customer's time and your own time.
- If you need to ask a few questions to make sure the strategy you intend to use is on target, don't do it like you're ill-prepared. Say something like "Tell me what my company can do today to help you get where you want to be in one year, in five years." Now you're entering Step 3.

Step 3 - Questioning and Probing
- Confirm or discover the strongest benefits that your prospect desires from the products/services you have to sell.
- Your questions should also determine how best to develop the sale with the organization - i.e., find out how they decide, when, people and procedures involved, competitor pressures, etc.
- Empathic questioning ("I understand your issues") also builds relationships, trust and rapport - people are much more likely to buy from you if you come across as sincerely wanting to help them, not just yourself.
- Use phrases such as, "Can you tell me about how..." if you are questioning a senior-level contact - generally the more senior the contact, the bigger the open questions you can ask, and the more the other person will be comfortable and able to give you the information you need.
- Use "closed" questions to confirm your interpretation of what you hear -- a closed question is one that can be answered "yes or no", for example, "Do you mean that if this type of equipment goes down, then your entire operation ceases?"
- You have one mouth and two ears - that means, you listen and let them talk; when you're talking, you're not learning anything.
- When you believe you have all the information you need, acknowledge the facts and say thanks - but if issues arise that you don't feel comfortable talking about now, be honest and let them know you may need a short follow-up session.

Next time, we'll look at how to make The Presentation.