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KBB Review September 2022 Article - The Sales Process

When I first started out in sales, the process I was taught was quite simple.


Approach, Qualification, Demonstration, Close.


How do you approach the customer, then how do you qualify them to make sure the wants and needs fit their budget. Then how do you demonstrate the product and its features and benefits? And then how do you close the deal?


It was a very straightforward way of thinking to somebody new to sales like myself.


I have spent some time on this article speaking to former colleagues and other business owners about the sales process and whether it should be kept simple, or whether it now needs more layers to involve more of a “customer journey''.


Follow up was one thing that many people thought was missing from these steps.


It’s all very well following the above method, but we need to be prepared to follow up with the customer if they don’t buy on the day.


Also, how has Covid affected the sales process and will technology now take over what was a traditionally personal transaction.


Everyone has their own sales process that they follow, either loosely or rigidly. But it’s important to have a plan in your head on how you are going to deal with each and every customer.


The process will change and evolve constantly, but having a basic foundation is vital.



Approach


Luke Wedgbury of Coalville Kitchens says


“It’s always best to open with a statement that instantly adds value or intrigue. “Hi guys, welcome to the best Kitchen company in the world” This is a classic cheeky ice breaker and always evokes a conversation. It also gives you the opportunity to explain why. The general idea is to add value and excitement in the first 20 seconds. Explain why you’re different from others and how you can help solve their problems.”


Currently, we are in the process of shopping for our own kitchen and we are spending a lot of time visiting different retailers to get an idea of what we want. (Apparently, my twenty five years of kitchen design experience aren’t enough !)


I’m amazed at the amount of “can I help you?” approaches, or “did you need any help ?”


As Luke says, a far better approach is where somebody comes over and gets my interest from the off.


Qualification


Qualifying the customer has probably become easier, and more difficult in equal measure in recent times.


Easier, because the customer now has a lot more resources to research their project before they even make their first contact with you. Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok are all putting ideas into the customers minds of what their dream kitchen should look like.


Harder, because what the customer doesn’t see, is that generally, what they are looking at in the images, is designed to fit a kitchen twice the size of the one they have.


And worse, when they have seen an image in a magazine that isn’t actually possible to fit, or breaks so many safety laws, you need to be leaving enough room for the emergency services to get into the kitchen.


Qualifying has always been a negotiation between the customers wants, and needs. You are just the mediator.



Demonstration


So for this part, I wanted to look at the differences between the old-fashioned face to face demonstration and how technology has made a difference in this area.


When I spoke with Stephen Johnson at Quooker about this, I was amazed.


Their diary is currently full of online appointments, where the customers are receiving a demonstration via video link from the comfort of their own homes.


And to prove this, Stephen then switched his phone to Facetime (fortunately, I wasn’t in my pyjamas) and let me watch a member of his team talking to a customer online.


It was fascinating and apparently the service is proving so popular, Stephen is having to look at extra resources to cope with demand.


A fantastic tool that independent retailers are now able to offer their customers.


Closing



The close doesn’t begin at the end of the process, it begins at the start.

Many people close deals in many different ways. Some people will even tell you they don’t close, they just ask for the money.


The close is the tidy little bow that ties the whole process together.


One of the best pieces of advice I ever received as a young salesperson was, “talk to the customer as if they have already purchased the kitchen from you, and you are just sorting out the details.”


That worked very well for me throughout my career.


From the moment the customer walked into the showroom to browse, my language remained the same. “When you place your order“, “when we deliver”, “when we install”, WHEN, WHEN , WHEN.


Mentally, it actually gave me more confidence too. It replaced “if you decide to go with us”, “if you use us to install”, IF, IF, IF.


The language was a lot more positive and so it made me more positive.




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