The Creative Selling Process


Although it may look easy, creative selling is not a simple task. Of course, some sales are made in a matter of minutes. But others, particularly for large organizational purchase, can take years to complete. Salespeople should follow a carefully planned process from start to finish.

Step 1: Prospecting: Prospecting is the process of finding and qualifying potential customers. This involves three activities:

  • Generating sales leads. Sales leads are names of individuals and organizations that might be likely prospects for the company’s products.
  • Identifying prospects. A prospect is a potential customer who indicates a need or a desire for the seller’s product.
  • Qualifying prospects. Not all prospects are worth investing sales time in. some may not have the authority to buy, and others won’t have enough money. The ones who do have both the authority and the available money are called qualified prospects.

Step 2: Preparing: With a list of hot prospects in hand, the salesperson’s next step is to prepare for the sales call. Without this preparation, the chances of success are greatly reduced. Preparation starts with creating a prospect profile, which includes the names of key people, their role in the decision-making process, and other relevant information such as the prospect’s buying needs, motive for buying, current suppliers, income/revenue level, and so on.

Next, the salesperson decides how to approach the prospect. Possible options for a first contact include sending a letter or cold calling in person or by telephone. For an existing customer, the salesperson can either drop by unannounced or call ahead for an appointment, which is generally preferred.

Before meeting with the prospect, the salesperson establishes specific objectives to achieve during the sales call. Depending on the situation, objectives can range anywhere from “getting the order today” to simply “convincing prospects top accept the company as a potential supplier.” Following that, the salesperson prepares the actual presentation, which can be as basic as a list of points to discuss or as elaborate as a product demonstration or multimedia presentation.

Step 3: Approaching the Prospect: Positive first impressions result from three elements. The first is an appropriate appearance—you wouldn’t wear blue jeans to call on a banker, and you probably wouldn’t wear a business suit to call on a farmer. Appearance also covers the things that represent you, including business cards, letters, and automobiles. Second, a salesperson’s attitude and behavior can make or break a sale. A salesperson should come across as professional, courteous, and considerate. Third, a salesperson’s opening lines should include a brief greeting and introduction, followed by a few carefully chosen words that get the prospect’s attention and generate interest. The best way to accomplish this is to focus on a benefit to the customer rather than on the product itself.

Step 4: Making the Presentation: the most critical step in the selling process is the presentation. It can take many forms, but its purpose never varies: to personally communicate a product message that will convince a prospect to buy. Most sellers use of two methods: The canned approach is a memorized presentation (easier for inexperienced sellers, but inefficient for complex products or for sellers who don’t know customer’s needs). The need satisfaction approach (now used by most professionals) identifies the customer’s needs and creates a presentation to specifically address them.

Step 5: Handling Objections: No matter how well a presentation is delivered, it doesn’t always conclude with an immediate offer that might move the prospect to buy. Often, the prospect will express various types of objections and concerns throughout the presentation. In fact, the absence of objections is often an indication that the prospect is not very interested in what the salesperson is selling. Many successful salespeople look at objections as a sign of the prospect’s interest and as an opportunity to develop new ideas that will strengthen future presentations.

Three basic approaches to overcoming objections include asking the prospect a question, giving a response to the objection, or telling the prospect that you will need to look into the matter and address it later.

Step 6: Closing: So far, you haven’t made a dime. You may have spent weeks or months—years in some cases—to bring the customer to this point, but you don’t make any money until the prospect decides to buy. This stage of the selling process, when you persuade the customer to place an order, is referred to as closing.

How should you ask for the order? Closing techniques are numerous; here are some of the more popular. The alternative proposal close asks the prospect to assumptive close, you simply proceed with processing the order, assuming that the prospect has already decided to buy. Another alternative is the silent close, in which you finish your presentation and sit quietly, waiting for the customer to respond with his or her buying decision. Finally, many salespeople prefer the direct close, where you just come right out and ask for the order.

These closing techniques might strike you as tricks, and in the hands of unethical salespeople, some closing approaches certainly can be. But the professional salesperson uses these techniques to make the selling process effective and efficient—not to trick people into buying when they aren’t ready.

Step 7: Following Up: Most salespeople depend on repeat sales, so it is important that they follow up on all sales and not ignore the customer once the first sale is made. During this follow-up stage of the selling process, you need to make sure that the product has been delivered properly and that the customer is satisfied. Inexperienced salespeople may avoid the follow-up stage because they fear facing an unhappy customer. However, an important part of a salesperson’s job is to ensure customer satisfaction and to build goodwill.

In order to improve the odds of keeping a satisfied customer after the sale, salespeople should remember to:

  • Handle complaints promptly and pleasantly
  • Maintain contact with customers
  • Keep serving the customers
  • Show appreciation.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Definitions of Strategy


Strategy: the science of planning and directing military operations, a plan or action based on this; skill in managing or planning, esp. by using stratagems. (Collins Pocket Dictionary, 1986)

Stratagems: a trick or plan for deceiving an enemy in war; any trick or scheme. (Collins Pocket Dictionary, 1986)

Strategic: sound in strategy; advantageous; needed for carrying on war; directed against the military and industrial installations of the enemy. (Collins Pocket Dictionary, 1986)

A strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. The word strategy has military connotations, because it derives from the Greek word for general. A strategy is a long term plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. Strategy may also refer to:

  • Business strategy, the art and science of enabling an organization to achieve its objective
    • Marketing Strategy, a process that allows an organization to increase sales and achieve a competitive advantage
    • Technology strategy, a document that explains how information technology should be used as part of a business strategy
    • Digital strategy, the process of specifying an organization’s processes to deploy online assets
  • Trading strategy, a predefined set of rules to apply in finance (Wikipedia)

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Benchmarking


We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are. Shift from the original status is the key for success.

If a company is loosing the market (or) customers, the company has to realize that somebody is doing well ahead. So it is necessary to find out the ways to get their competitor’s level and have to beat them to retain the market and customers. An ideal tool to meet this level is benchmarking.

Benchmarking is a way to go backstage and watch another company’s performance from the wings where all the stage tricks and hurried re-alignments are visible. It is the practice of being humble enough to admit that someone else is better at something, and wise enough to learn to how to match and even surpass, them at it.

It is the process of identification, understanding and practicing the outstanding practices and processes from organizations anywhere in the world to help the organizations to improve its perfomance.

While benchmarking, it is not ethical to benchmark a product with another. This will give only the numerical values of weight, width, height, number of defects and number of rejections. But the objective is to benchmark a process with the best processes anywhere in the world having that best product as a target.

Benchmarking is not copying or imitating. This involves observing and learning from others. it is not a time-bound event. It is a continuous journey and an ongoing process without end, till the company is existing. The more we split the process into small segments the more will be the value added to each individual process. This is the key feature of benchmarking.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Lectures, Line of Sight

Developing Global Competence


Although globalization encompasses everything from environmental scan, competitive strategy, teams and alliances, changes and chaos, and issues of personal effectiveness—all these items and how we deal with them can be traced back to our core set of values and beliefs. The trick is to map those well enougfh to be able to use a cultural intelligence system. To collect, analyze and apply complex information about differences in values and beliefs, you need to draw upon different cultural lenses. This will build up your capability to see yourself, others, and the world through a global perspective. Without this, you cannot grow a global mentality and the attitudes, skills, and knowledge it brings.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Figuring out what to charge


The hardest part of developing a fee schedule is figuring out what to charge. The professional fees in all fields are rather idiosyncratic. Rarely can a freelance professional set an across the board price for services. Most professionals have sliding fees. Some old, favored clients are always charged less than newer, more affluent clients. Some clients are charged overtime and for rush jobs, while others never are. And in almost every field professionals charge different rates for corporate or commercial work as opposed to creative or literary work.

Then, too, there are various ways to structure a professional fee. In the course of one year a professional is likely to take on jobs that pay by the hour, the day, and by flat fee.

What does it all mean to someone starting out in freelancing who is unsure what to charge or even how to figure out a fee schedule? Basically, a freelancer should not get too caught up in working for one preset fee—for one hourly rate. Sometimes a client will pay you less per hour, but you can pad the bill so you end up earning as much as you would if you charged a higher hourly rate. Sometimes you take a consulting job that is not particularly interesting or challenging but which pays well, so you can later take on creative work that does not pay so well. The trick is to charge enough overall so that you earn what you need to earn. But even a sliding scale or a willingness to negotiate does not mean that you will not require a well-planned rate schedule. If you ever go into a meeting to settle a fee and are unsure what to charge or what you would like to earn, then you will probably walk away a loser. You must always be prepared to negotiate, and you should expect to earn what you are worth 90 percent of the time. To do this, you need to figure out in advance what the general fee ranges will be for your services. The only danger is in setting an hourly fee and measuring all your work by that one standard.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

The Impeccable Venture Types


Two concepts that appear to have a major bearing on long-term prosperity of a business are the notion of ‘distinctive competence’ and ‘market share.’

 

A company with larger market share in its particular line of business gets more practice in performing that business than a company with a smaller market share and consequently should be able to develop through that practice a higher level of competence. At the same time, by having a larger market share a company enjoys economies of scale—quantity discounts on purchases, thinner spreading of advertising costs, and justification for greater investment in tooling and automation and for more research and development. Consequently, it has an advantage in lowering unit costs, which in turn can allow it to lower prices and thereby outsell the competition to gain still more market share, and so forth. There are research data that indicate both that more sharply defined competence, often as a result of narrower specialization, leads to greater growth, and that larger market share leads to higher profits.

 

In evaluating prospective venture ideas it therefore makes sense to as, “What will the company’s distinctive competence be?” in other words, what will it be able to do better than other companies can and why? It also makes sense to ask what share of market the company will have as compared to competitors. If it seems likely to have only a very small share of market and competitors enjoy larger shares, then it will need either some major performance improvement such as a significant special innovation or else a lot of financing to increase its share and be able to survive.

 

One ideal approach is to begin early in a new industry. When the industry is small, it should be possible for the new company to obtain a significant share without having to be large to do so. As the industry grows, the company can then grow with it, still maintaining its market share, with consequent high profits. This type of enterprise is ideal not only from the entrepreneur’s point of view, because the company prospers, but also from a funder’s point of view, because rapid growth of the company will create a profitable application for capital to expand the company’s capacity to handle increasing business. Thus to capture a major market share at the opening stage of a new industry is an ideal pattern for a growth-oriented venture.

 

A second ideal type of venture is one that captures a major share of an existing but more mature industry. The major share will generate high profits, but if the industry, because of its maturity, is not growing, then the company will not have to grow in order to maintain its market share. This will mean that it will not need external funder. From a funder’s point of view it is not particularly attractive. But from entrepreneur’s position it is, because the profits will not have to be plowed back but can rather be taken as salary, dividends, and other benefits. The trick, of course, is to capture a major share in an existing industry, and this can be done by choosing a very small industry to start in, by entering through purchase of a going concern that already has a respectable share, or by entering with a strong innovation or other competitive advantage.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight