S is for Search
A sale should not start with a cold call or email. As a salesperson, you should always start the selling process by researching your prospective client. Understand the arena in which your prospective client operates. Determine the strengths and opportunities of the firm and how your product or service can fill the void between the two. Know who the key players are so you're not going in blind trying to figure out who the ultimate decision maker is. If appropriate, follow your prospective client on Twitter so you can stay on top of the latest news and updates. Know how your prospective client ticks before you even think about dialing that phone or hitting send on that email. Through search, you will prepare yourself for your initial client interaction and will have set yourself up for a successful sale.
A is for Ask
Thanks to your efforts in client research, you were able to land an in-person meeting with the proper decision maker. Now is the time to learn about your prospective client one-on-one. Ask questions about where they see their business trending in the short-term and long-term. Discover interests that you share. Ask about their family and connect on similar experiences. Develop a relationship by asking meaningful questions that will take a surface level conversation to a deeper level. By asking questions and learning more about the needs of your client, you will have the necessary information to create a valuable solution to a client's needs utilizing your product or service.
L is for Listen
Even more important that asking the right questions is listening to the answers of your prospective client. Nothing is more aggravating to client than going to a meeting prepared with questions and simply going through them like a checklist. Meaningful conversations need to flow which stems from active listening. As a salesperson, you should be able to listen to your client and see where the conversation takes you. Of course, be mindful to stay on track, but don't let yourself commandeer the ship. Listening will allow you to connect more with your prospective client and ultimately help you to evaluate their needs.
E is for Evaluate
Here is where your talent as a salesperson comes in. You know your product better than anyone in that meeting room. Due in large part to your active listening skills to develop a strong relationship, your prospective client trusts your knowledge and will take into consideration every single thing you say. With that said, you must evaluate the responses to your questions. Can you identify the needs of the client? Can you align how your product/service can satisfy those needs to help the client further their success? Remember, sales is all about creating a partnership. Evaluate the situation and develop a solution that will leave the client signing on the dotted line. Don't forget, this is where your creativity, knowledge, and talent can set you apart from the competition!
S is for Serve
Once the deal is signed, some may think the sale is complete. They are wrong. Sales is an ongoing partnership with a client. The sale is only over once you and your client stop doing business together (which hopefully is not anytime soon!). This is where the final step to being an effective salesperson comes in: serving the client. Be an active partner. Consistently follow up with your clients to ensure their needs are still being met. Continue asking questions to discover new needs or problems that the client is experiencing. Then evaluate whether you have a solution for these new problems. By serving the client, you can open doors to more business plus you will continue to increase the customer's lifetime value. Sales is not about taking orders, it's about partnering and serving customers.
So there you have it. A useful acronym to help young sales professionals grow and develop good habits when prospecting and partnering with clients. Although this is not a foolproof methodology that guarantees a 100% close rate, I hope it serves as a reminder that sales is all about serving the client.