Frustration in the sales process indicates a struggle in leadership
Any time a small business owner works with a potential client, someone ends up taking the lead. If the client takes the lead, the interaction will be fraught with frustration and indecision for both of you. When they lead, the probability that they will make a successful purchase will diminish greatly and the amount of time you spend to get them to sign the deal will increase significantly. The end results will have you working longer (for less profit) and with greater frustration. Eventually, you will become financially stressed and emotionally worn out wondering why everything seems so difficult and time consuming. Most small business owners know what this feels like.
Sales leadership is related to your business income capability
Even though you have knowledge and understanding of the sales process, you may still be struggling with moving the potential client forward in that sales process. If you do not display a strong leadership demeanor, your clients will push up against you and they will not move forward. It is for this reason that you need to realize how your leadership level is directly related to your income capability. When we work with small business owners, we can show them how much this is truly costing them. When they realize that a lack of leadership directly causes them to lose sales, they pay attention.
The good news is that when you make small changes to your leadership presence, you will begin to see improvements in your income capability. Why? Because when you lead effectively, people will follow more willingly. One of those changes would be to display confidence as you take charge of the process. Your potential client needs to see you as the specialist, the authority in the product or service, and the one who can answer all their questions with integrity and honesty. The more confidence you project, the less resistance you will get from a client and of course the less resistance you encounter, the faster you will move forward.
It’s that simple.
The most powerful leadership tool is powerful questions
One of the first concepts we cover in our small business growth coaching programs is the first rule of sales leadership, which is: “Whoever is asking the questions is the leader”. It does not matter what the small business is – this will always apply. Your ability to ask questions will determine how the sales interview will go. When you ask open-ended questions (questions that cannot be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’) you will discover that the potential client is more willing to follow your leadership. Open-ended questions also have the added benefit of providing you with more information to help you understand exactly what the client is looking for.
When you ask these types of questions, they will also help the potential client fully discover and redefine what their needs and desires actually are. Questions like, “Do you have a need for…”, or “Have you ever thought about…” will assist the client in becoming clearer on what they really want or need. They will begin to see you as a valuable asset in their decision making process. To get an even clearer idea about the value you offer, ask questions that point to the value of the service or product you offer like,
“What would be the one thing you would like to accomplish this business year, that when you look back you could say it was the best year ever?”
“If you knew that by having a clear financial plan you could hit your goal of early retirement 10 years earlier, how much would that interest you on a scale of 1-10?”
Potential clients may resist your questions at first for the fear of being ‘sold’ something they don’t want. If this happens, slow down and ask the same question in a number of different ways during your conversation. If they are going slow, you are wise to take a step back and work on building better rapport and trust.
Simple actions to establish leadership in the sales process
At some point, your potential client will look for your leadership. Inform them about the sales process that you have developed and what it entails. When you let the client know that you have a plan – and you tell them about the steps you follow – it will pay dividends. It will set a positive tone for how the interaction between you and the client will go as you move forward in the sales process. You can have them participate in this process by completing information forms and doing things such as research or gathering information. You need to get their commitment on the small things before they make a bigger commitment, which is the purchase of your goods or service.
Give them a vision of what will happen. Tell them that you have a proven and highly effective system that should have them making an informed/easy decision in a reasonable period of time. Discuss how you will maintain follow-up, and how they may reach you. Make sure they understand how to maintain contact with you if the sales process is more than a one-step process. That way, they won’t ever feel that they have lost touch with you as your dealings progress.
By completing these simple actions, you will find that your client is more satisfied at the end of your interaction and that is a great step to getting referrals from them and future business with them.