Maximizing productivity is a key objective for sales people and sales managers. Time and money is spent on CRMs, planners, Blackberries, and more technology. And, when used appropriately, technology can help us with efficiency. Yet there is more…we also need to squeeze the most out of every contact and discussion we have. We need to continuously advance the sale WITH each prospect.

An effective sales discussion starts before contact. It starts with preparation that includes identifying:

  • Who, what, why and when for this contact.
  • Potential objections that may be raised.
  • The decision needed at the end of the contact. Some sales are closed in one discussion, many are not, and the decision might be to schedule a next meeting, introduce you to someone else in the company, provide you information or specs, etc. We need to know what our decision at the “close” of this discussions should be.

After preparation we can maximize the actual discussion with the person by using the acronym WIIFT for specific steps and a road map. WIIFT is a 5 step sales process AND a philosophy of focusing on What’s in it for Them through the discussion.

Wait. Pause and mentally prepare before contact. Review the notes you made, think about this person and company and the value you can possibly provide them. And then…

Initiate the contact. Help the person break pre-occupation by asking them open ended questions that draw them into conversation. Connect with the person before jumping directly into your product information or your business questions. Put the spotlight on them by asking about their job, their history with the company, their interests (look for clues on this one). This step might take 2 minutes or 20, pay attention to time and move the discussion to business when appropriate.

  • Tell me how you ended up in this role…
  • How is your day going?

And then move the discussion into business…

Investigate. Use additional open-ended questions to allow them to discuss and clarify:

  • What their objectives are
  • What is happening now
  • What are the risks of doing nothing
  • What are the rewards of taking action

The gaps between these areas is your opportunity. Use great listening skills by summarizing what you hear, taking notes, and helping them clarify their responses. Once gaps are identified and clarified, you can move to explaining how you can help them.

Facilitate a discussion where you use your expertise to educate them on how what you do/have can eliminate the gaps discovered in your investigation. The more closely you match what you do to THEM, their situation, their needs and opportuntiies, the higher the perceived value (and the less they want to wait to get what you have).
Use YOU transition statements from WHAT you have to the WIIFT (what’s in it for them).

  • Our service provides ongoing technical support and in YOUR situation that means that YOU will not have 2 a.m. phone calls from your users.
  • We have 20 years of experience which means that YOU will be able to use proven processes that help YOU reach your goals quicker.

To facilitate means to “make it easy” for someone else. As you share your information make it easy for them to see how what you have fits with them…involve them, let them be a part of discovering how this fits with their situation, the value they see, make it a discussion versus a “pitch”.

Collaborate. Beyond consultative selling – collaborative selling is working with someone else to accomplish something. Ask what type of objections or obstacles they foresee in moving forward. Then work through the objections WITH them as a problem solver. Finally, ask for a decision and the next step to close the discussion (and the sale).

Following a sales system brings efficiency and consistency to each discussion. It allows us to keep moving the process forward and using “face” time most productively. Then we can use our technology to capture the order, schedule the next appointment and report to our managers. Productivity will increase as we maximize every discussion.

What do you do to maximize your sales discussions?