What percentage of buyers want to hear from sellers in the first stage of the buying process?

A: 2%

B: 30%

C: 71%

D: 12%

We will reveal the answer soon, but first a little self-reflection how does your answer relate to your sales mindset? In short,how do you feel about approaching suspects? Do you wait until they are midway through the buying stage?

“Confidence is like a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it gets” Unknown.

What does this quote have to do with the above survey? A study by RAIN Group showed that 71% of buyers want to hear from sellers about opportunities to improve their business. So, grow your confidence and change your mindset. Begin to approach buyers in the first stage of the buying process rather than waiting until they are halfway through it.

Your sales funnel will help you to embed a strong sales process from beginning to end. Use this to identify and convert your ideal sales prospects. Just like a funnel the number of leads will get smaller in number the closer you get to the bottom of the funnel. The easy way to remember it is to use the acronym SPANCOP, let’s break it down into the different sections:

S – Suspect

P – Prospect

A – Approach & Analyse

N – Negotiate

C – Close

O – Order

P – Payment

Top tip #1: Understand that not every lead will become a sale.

Naturally, you want to succeed at business and continue to be able to build upon this success. It would be easy to think that the way to do this is to chase as many leads as possible and get them all the way down the sales funnel to the payment stage. Trying to squeeze too many unqualified leads down the pipeline has a huge impact on sales conversion and win rates, which in turn affects morale and sales mindset. Focus on keeping them in the loop via newsletters, emails, phone calls in 6 months’time, etc so that when they are qualified to buy you will influence their purchasing decision.

Top tip #2: Build a target sector and recognise opportunities.

Determining who will make it down the sales funnel starts with focusing on suspects. These suspects are likely to be in your target sector. There a few different factors you can take into account to define your target sector e.g. existing clients, market research, online analytics and engaging with clients.

Top tip #3:Check that the suspect meets the target client profile.

Some suspects will stay suspects for now while others will become prospects. Use this tried-and-tested criteria to help you define who will become a prospect, rather than spending all your time trying to convert a suspect:

“Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust” Zig Ziglar.

If they meet the above criteria they are likely to be a prospect.

Top tip #4: Analyse the client’s needs and agree interest.

Use your prior knowledge of the client to approach and analyse; to understand their business operation and diagnose their needs. Use email (8 out of 10 prospects prefer email) or calling to set up a meeting, send the agendato them before meeting and once there show them how your solution meets their needs. This is the time to set up a follow-up negotiation meeting.

Top tip #5: Secure an agreement that your solution meets their needs.

In the negotiate stage of SPANCOP with a client you can check with them that everything you have explained about your solution matches their business needs. If they see the value in your product for them, they will be ready to make a commitment to purchase. Be prepared by having pricing models or tools to hand, especially if you have a product ecosystem rather than just one product. 

Top tip #6: Close and finalise the contract.

Once all of the previous stages have been met and criteria qualified it would be safe to assume that you can close the sale and for them to sign off the contract or terms and conditions. Don’t forget to agree a start date with the client and an outline of the ordering process e.g. welcome pack.

Top tip #7: Follow up with client to check satisfaction.

As well as receiving the order and payment from the client there is still some further work to be completed from the sales end including a client satisfaction index. Client loyalty goes a long way to securing repeat business which is especially worthwhile when research shows that it can cost five times more to gain a new client.

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