Print Tech Insights 10: 12/5/11 – Understanding the Sale from Perspective of the Salesman, Part 2

Understanding the Sale from the Salesman’s Perspective   [Part Two]

Larry Goldfarb

In Part One, “Understanding the Sale …,” I discussed finding the prospect, initiating the first call, then setting up the prospect as being agreeing to possibly purchasing the product or service that the salesperson is trying to sell.  In Part Two, the final installment, I will take you through the technical analysis, followed by “the close.”  While most books on sales recommend processes with many steps, I prefer these 5 steps – they provide a convenient way to understand the process.

Technical Analysis

This step in the sales process is by far the most complicated.  The salesman’s task is to solidify the prospects interest in the product, determine the steps required to close the sale as well as set a target date for the closing.  In order to solidify the client’s interest in the product, the salesperson demonstrates the product while showcasing a key feature that the client needs.  This can also take the form of a discussion of the current process and how the product can solve her problems.  Once the salesman identifies the issue, he can then hone in and discuss how the product can solve the problem as well as generalize the other positive features in the product.

The client should use the opportunity to get buy in for her product choice.  I recommend bringing to bear other member of the department or perhaps IT.  Try to get the salesman to come in for a live meeting in which he demonstrates the product to a larger audience.  The salesman will appreciate it because it is easier to move a sale forward in person.  The client should also like it because it can give the client a measure of the salesman and the product.  In the end, the client needs to have confidence both in the product and in the integrity of the salesman.  I like to think of the sales process this way:

If you were buying a TV and the salesman was trying to convince you of a certain TV by being less than factual and by using a lot of hyperbole, would you buy it?  Would you buy it from that salesperson?  I would probably leave the store.

Finally, work with the salesperson to map out a closing path.  If the path is known, both sides have more confidence in the steps and it can lead to a better relationship for all.  For instance, the salesperson will not have to lob untimely calls.  He can also, work with his management to give you a quicker more targeted implementation because he can marshal the resources based on the known closing schedule.

One final step prior to closing is to check references.  I believe this is the best way to confirm the salesman’s assertions.  The most important person to speak to is one you might know,  one who can speak honestly with you and help you to fully understand what you are getting from the product.

Closing the Sale

Surprisingly, about half of the sales that reach this point do not close.  Perhaps the customer can’t find the budget, or the budget really never existed, management gets cold feet or internal IT says they want to take some preliminary steps before a buying decision is made.  The salesman’s best technique in this period is to a line the interest of the sale with the needs of the prospect and his contact.  This can be the acute problem the product is solving, it can be saving money from the current process, it can also be doing something for a friend – a friendship can spring up between the salesman and the prospect.   The salesman tries to play all of these cards to move the sale forward.

The prospect needs to know that she has the most leverage now.  The salesman has told his management and perhaps has forecast the deal for the current month.  This is an excellent time to get a few more features, perhaps a longer term, or even a bit of a price break. The salesman will typically be happy to give you concessions if the prospect can get the deal closed.  Another interesting part of the sale is that it can expose the prospect to other members of the community; it’s a form of networking.  The ability to meet your colleagues in the industry though user meetings or even giving references is a great benefit from working with a vendor.

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