How do you break out of your niche? How can you plan to double or triple your sales and get a decision from every customer? How can you treat every customer the same if everyone is different?
The last time you went on a trip, part of that probably involved some form of planning or itinerary of the journey. You will have mapped out how you were going to get from Point 'A' to Point 'B'...and maybe if like me you have small children had to include stops 'C' through 'K' just to drag things out a bit. I just made a basic analogy for a route through life didn't I? Maybe you believe in fate or destiny: what will be will be: Que sera sera etc. Maybe you think that life and your level of success has glass roof or that you have a niche and stuck where you are in life and your business or skill-sets ultimately have an anchor to your activity stopping you from 'making it' or getting there.
If this is the case, you need to develop your sales mindset: there is no room without doors or windows, if there is a way in there's a way out; even if sometimes you have to take what feels like a small or temporary step backwards, if you have planned correctly and accordingly you can overcome any hurdle, any mountain because your starting point is always atop your own mountain of value, a mountain made up of your story and experiences through life. Build it, nurture it, use it...learn from it...forge a hammer for your glass roof or a ladder for your niche and take a leap. The sky is not the limit, just another hurdle...once you get beyond the sky you'll see how endless and beautiful the universe really is, would you really want to stay contained to earth and earth alone if you know there is the whole universe waiting for you to grow and expand into?
What I am here to tell you is that by being involved in your own business you have already decided to take the first step along the path to success. By being at the top of your business you aren't contained by levels of management and bureaucracy or administration suffocating you above and below like in a large corporation. Maybe you have built these levels in your company, meaning you have your hand on the rudder to provide those below you with the skills and motivation - if they want it - to develop themselves into reaching the same state as you moulding their own fate, path or destiny toward success while they increase your profits along the way while they discover this. Being at the top also means that with your hand on the rudder you have the freedom to simultaneously stand at the very tip of the bow of your Titanic like Rose and Jack and feel life all around you waiting for you to grab it and to start to fly.
Don't be bound by the prisons your mind puts in place for you or what you have been indoctrinated to understand in your school years that competition is healthy...no it isn't, domination is what you need to do to survive and striving for it is what is going to make you successful. Quantify successful how you will: what it means to be successful is a personal thing. What I am saying is that you need to recognize that firstly you can be successful and secondly that you need to commit to making yourself a success.
As a junior sales manager in my corporate years I was given a piece of advice by my sales director that I have tattooed (figuratively) on the inside of my skull:
"The best piece of advice I can give you all is what was given to me when I was in your position: Nobody else gives a hoot about your career, you've got to do it for yourself..."
Now that's the cleaned up version of the phrase, but I got to thinking that every manager of mine who has said to me "we're in this together" has accepted a promotion or transfer, every time something has gone wrong ownership has been questioned and passed around the team like a hand grenade with the pin taken out...do it for yourself, take ownership of your life and commit to building a success out of it...realise that becoming a millionaire or an authority or THE EXPERT is possible and also attainable for you if you want it.
Even if you are not at the top of your business you can still benefit from thinking this way, you owe it to yourself to develop yourself to the point where you can build your success. Maybe you haven't the financial backing to build a company: realize that you just have to sell more until you do. Maybe you don't have a product idea: buy into a franchise that will give you a product and a proven business model. Commit to developing yourself into being a success, and let those around you help you do it as long as you remember ultimately you have to do it for yourself.
Once you have developed your mindset into being an expert you still need a path to follow to get there. You will not make yourself successful by saving, you will actually throttle your success by trying to grow by saving, the British Empire was at its peak the largest empire through history and didn't claim 24% of the Earth's service by saving but by expanding, dominating and developing constantly. That figure incidentally is 7.73% more than the Mongol Empire which according to Wikipedia is the second largest empire throughout history.
The British Empire dominated the globe because they became experts at building and maintaining their empire, it was their business, like yours is on a smaller scale. Increasing your income increases your success.
You can increase your income by having the perfect sales strategy to constantly be drawing all possible prospects into your sales funnel, but you still need a process to move them down your sales funnel towards the close. It does not matter how each prospect differs, if you don't have a process in place to lead prospects towards a close they will remain prospects, never becoming clients and you will be delivering value on people without ever sending them an invoice. Or worse still they leave your sales funnel and you miss the opportunity. I spoke to a prospect of mine recently who said he pitched a big job to a prospect about 6 weeks before our meeting, I asked what happened and he shrugged and said it just fell by the wayside, he didn't know what had happened to that quote!!!! A classic case of missed opportunity. You can increase your income by the following:
1. Marketing to more people and putting more leads in your sales funnel or...
2. You can follow up on every lead, every prospect and stack the odds in your favour so they are more likely to say yes...i.e. increase your conversion percentage
...which one of these would you rather do? People who will smash through the glass roof and grip the tail feathers of success and fly won't do either....they will do BOTH.
The road to success is littered with lost opportunity so my advice is to build some iron clad walls to your sales funnel so leads only get out after they have given you a decision. Think of it as lining your sales funnel with the metal barriers like you get at the bowling alley, the ball either knocks some pins over (gives you a yes decision) or gets through with a 'No' decision. It's OK for people to say no, don't be afraid of rejection it's part of life, but learn to use that feeling and take it to the next prospect to spur you on to getting a positive decision.
After all, if you were playing snooker or pool, you wouldn't take your eye off the ball until it had fallen down the pocket would you? You would watch it go all the way in, so why wouldn't you do the same with someone who can potentially give you a deal or give you some money? That's just short term, think about how much you can make from that one customer if you deliver so much value that they become a Strategic Partner and start regularly passing you hot leads that they have recommended you to pass your value onto. Everyone you meet or have dealings with will know at least 200 people that could be a referral to you.
Don't let this opportunity pass you by. As I said in another article I wrote about building sales pitches (article link) if you sold a £50 product to your network of 200 people you would make £10,000, but if that 200 people recommended you to their network of 200 people and they bought it you would make £2,000,000. Even if your conversion of that is 20% which is very fair, you still would make £40,000 just by offering value and showcasing it well. That comes crashing down if you fail to get the decision from the prospect when you pitch to them or don't stack the odds to getting a yes. Thinking like this by recognizing potential and committing yourself to making your own success is how you ought to be thinking. If not, your competition will be and you will be left standing still.
Build The Process.
I've titled this section THE process, not A process because what follows is the process that you can use for anyone in your market and it works for any lead and any prospect.
The only thing that may change is if you are selling a product worth more than £20,000 the timescale may differ. Any product being sold for less than £20,000 per unit can reach a decision in less than 10 days, ideally 7.
What do we mean by process?
A Sales Process is converting prospects to clients: nothing more, and the transition occurs when money changes hands after you have showcased what value you can give and get a decision: either a yes or a no, a maybe is useless. To be successful you not only need to get decisions but be good at it: stack the odds in your favour so that more and more prospects are more likely to say yes because of how much value you have to offer them: Believe you can, put more leads in the sales funnel, showcase your value in the most appetising way and lead them towards a close by showcasing what value you can to meet their need. I have in one sentence described all you have to do to be successful with sales by increasing your income: Attitude, Strategy, Process and Pitch...develop these and your sales will increase.
So you have written an irresistible elevator pitch to use in conversation when networking and used it to entice a prospect towards your sales funnel. The whole point of this social pitch is to entice them to listen to your presentation, a face to face meeting where you can unload what value you have to offer them. Usually, though there will be a break between these events of possibly a few days, and there is always the danger that they will become distracted by ANYTHING ELSE in this window. By drawing up your process you give yourself the opportunity to map out any points where you might lose your customers decision: a DANGER ZONE. If you know where these are you can pre-empt and plan to circumvent them. If you know there is a bad delay on the motorway on your journey...you would plan to go another way, wouldn't you?
Everything in your process revolves around this presentation pitch meeting, beforehand it's building up momentum towards it and after the event, it's all about following up and reinforcing the value offered. Between the first pitch and the actual presentation meeting itself, you need to speak to the prospect, primarily to confirm the meeting is on but also to begin stacking the odds in your favour. You need to speak to them for about 15 minutes to ascertain:
1. Are they are the (only) decision maker?
2. Do they have a budget to buy your product/service?
3. Do they have a need?
All of this needs to be wrapped up in the dream that you are going to deliver them, this is when you start to build that dream, by illustrating how their quality of life is going to improve by going into business with you. That's why people buying from people is so strong because of this personal touch where value is conveyed through the emotional link that it creates and instills. This call is the first important step in your process, but again we will have a break between this call and the actual presentation, so to stay at the forefront of the prospect's mind you have to give them an activity to complete before the meeting so they are thinking about you when you aren't even there, probably it will be some information about the company that you need in order to prepare for the meeting, doesn't matter what it is, as long as it gets them thinking about you.
At the meeting, you can describe the value you have to offer, unload the big guns and really sell their own dream to them. But it is crucial that you maintain and leave an element of curiosity and the meeting lasts no more than an hour, your intention is to build the impulse to buy and leave the prospect sizzling with a desire for your product/service because you have made yourself vital to the success of the prospect or their business. This means at the end of this meeting you have the first buying opportunity...SO ASK FOR THE BUSINESS!!!! If the customer doesn't want to give you a decision there and then, which most people won't because that's human nature it's OK because the process continues and you have it mapped out so you're expecting this outcome.
There is nothing more chilling to a sales negotiation than coming across as desperate, you are after all...an expert, so it's okay that they aren't ready to decide right now because you have your process to follow. Even if they do give you a decision and it's a YES you should still be asking the question: Is there any reason why you wouldn't want to go ahead? Rustle the bushes and flush out objections that may be forming on their minds because you can answer them there and then, not after they have had chance to fester and grow into a NO decision, because rest assured they may not give you the chance to answer the objection at a later stage before they finalise their decision. Preventing a 'no' decision is much better and easier than overturning it.
Decision makers who are not certain that you can deliver your value will hide behind two real objections and shroud it with other things like price or timing. They will either think that they won't use the product you have to offer or that it won't work. You need to answer both of these by demonstrating the value that you have to offer and proving that it works with case studies or recommendations and personal experience but also why the need exists and extrapolating what will happen if they don't use your product.
If you have to collect the decision at a later stage it is imperative that you get the decision date and time in the diary before you leave the meeting, it will earn you respect from the prospect and ground your pitch in reality. Again here though we have another opportunity where the prospect is going to start thinking about: ANYTHING ELSE, probably somewhere they can get what you offered more easily or cheaper or better or how th