No cold calling

Author Casey Parisi, University of San Francisco

Posted: July 6, 2016

Tagged: Sales process

When it comes to making a successful sales pitch, different sales people do different things well, and not every company follows the same process to make their sale. When thinking about the sales process, the first thing that comes to mind is cold calls that telemarketers make because that is the most common sales method I encounter. However, this is not the most successful way to go about the sales process. Instead, there are various components that make a sale successful: establishing rapport, finding the buyer’s needs, adding value, and scripting and preparing.

Perhaps the most opposite thing to cold calling is relationship building. Building rapport with your potential buyer is the most important component of a successful sales process. Some people might think that presenting a buyer with logical facts as to why they need your product might be the best approach, but Shapiro (2015) makes a good argument when saying not to use logic first, but build credibility and engage the other side emotionally because “people make decisions emotionally and justify them rationally” (p. 14). Holmes (2008) states that “the more you create a sense of community and friendship with your clients, the stronger the grip you will have” (p. 194). Not only is building a relationship the most important component, but it is also the first component you should execute before even talking about the sale. Without going into details on the sale, you should ask great questions, have a sense of humor, listen, empathize, and find common ground between you and the buyer (Holmes, 2008, p. 196). Get to know the buyer because relationships are important to reducing uncertainty and gaining prestige and legitimacy, thus building trust (Cousens, Babiak, & Bradish, 2006, p. 6). As trust builds and the relationship becomes stronger, it transforms into a purely collaborative relationship that will create the achievement of mutual benefit (Cousens et al., 2006, p. 11), an appealing factor to both you and the buyer. People want to enter into a relationship that isn’t just giving on their part, but they also want to receive in return, and this is achieved through first establishing rapport. It is not only beneficial for the buyer to trust you, but building rapport is also important to you as the seller because it allows you to understand the buyer on a more intimate level. Through trust, the buyer will be more comfortable opening up about their needs and desires, leading to the second component of a successful sales process: finding the buyer’s need.

Once the relationship is established, you can ask the buyer what they need in order to help their business. Holmes (2008) says to find out what they’re looking for in your product or service (p. 198). This comes through probing and listening, asking lots of questions and getting to know the other side as best as possible (Shapiro, 2015, p. 14). The sales process isn’t just about what you are selling, but it’s about providing to the buyer what they need. The only way to do this is through discovering who they are, where they are successful, and where they need help. Only when you can truly find what they’re looking for can you build a package specified to their needs, thus allowing you to add value to them and yourself. When you prepare well, you gather information to plan strategically, allowing you to weigh alternatives and create leverage “by setting the stage for them to really use your sponsorship” (Skildum-Reid & Grey, 2014, p. 202). If the buyer can actually use your sponsorship, it will be found as having value, and this value creates a desire through selling them why they need what you offer (Holmes, 2008, p. 203).

While discovering the buyer’s needs shouldn’t be a component that changes, adding value is one part of the sales process that can change throughout practice because not every buyer is going to be as important to you as a sales person as other buyers. This means your approach will change in how much of your time and resources you will use to add the value to the product or service you are selling. However, it is still important to remember that even though you aren’t using the same time and resources on everyone, each buyer should still be treated with the same respect and courtesy.

The final components of a successful sales process are the most interchangeable components: scripting and preparing. Scripting includes preparing what you are going to say, what you are going to sell, and how you establish the relationship. Each sales meeting is different, and thus preparing and scripting will change in practice with every different buyer. This is also the most interchangeable component because scripting and preparation really comes at every step of the sales process. When you first begin building a relationship with a potential buyer, it’s important to prepare by looking in to who the company is, whom you are meeting with, and finding out the information that will be useful when conversing with them. Know some basic background facts so you come off as being knowledgeable, interested, and invested. Skildum-Reid and Grey (2014) state that the sales process is 75% preparation (p. 159), showing that it is the largest factor in making a sale. Preparation incorporates scripting because one of the best ways to prepare is to script the pitch, rehearse it until you are comfortable with it, then preparing for questions and concerns that your potential buyer will have. Making sure you have responses ready will make you seem like an expert, coming off as more knowledgeable, and thus adding value to your relationship and your sale to the buyer (Shapiro, 2015, p. 14). Preparing and scripting for the conversation you will have keeps you from deviating, and the more you script, rehearse, and prepare, the more confidence you will have when going into the sales meeting. And as Shapiro (2015) states, “nothing convinces like conviction” (p. 14).

The sales process is always changing, but there are basic components that should always be included. Establishing rapport is the first step towards building a relationship with a buyer, allowing you to find the buyer’s needs. Maintaining the relationship and continuing to build upon it will occur throughout the entire sales process and beyond. Once you find the buyer’s needs, you can add value to yourself and to the buyer. Lastly, scripting and preparing are the final components that are necessary, occurring throughout each and every stage from beginning to end, and changing with every potential buyer and sales pitch. As a result, these are the most necessary components to a successful sales pitch.

 

 

References

Cousens, L., Babiak, K., & Bradish, C. L. (2006). Beyond sponsorship: Re-framing corporate-sport relationships. Sport Management Review, 9, 1-23.

Holmes, C. (2008). The ultimate sales machine. New York, NY: Penguin Group.

Shapiro, R. (2015). How to sell and negotiate more effectively in sports. SportsBusiness Journal, 17(44), 14.

Skildum-Reid, K., & Grey, A. (2014). The sponsorship seeker’s toolkit (4th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

About Casey Parisi, University of San Francisco

Casey graduated from UC San Diego with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and is currently in the Sport Management Masters program at the University of San Francisco. While at UC San Diego, she played collegiate soccer and worked with the Communications Department for UCSD Athletics. Her plans are to work in production and marketing for athletic organizations. She is contactable via www.linkedin.com/in/caseyparisi. This is an edited version of a paper Casey prepared for Dr. Michael M. Goldman’s Business Development & Sales class at the University of San Francisco.

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