If your product or service warrants a consultative approach to selling, read on. There are six steps to the sales approach which I want to share with you over the next few weeks. The first step- same as in dating- is developing a relationship with the prospect. This step was covered in my initial sales forum topic available here: http://www.startupnation.com/pages/community/forum_posts.asp ?TID=3763&PN=1&TPN=1
Once you’ve forged a relationship with your prospect, the next step is to make your product or service appealing to your audience and to rule out assumptions. If you’ve performed a cursory analysis of your prospect, e.g. researched the company’s value proposition, client roster, core competencies and competitive landscape, you’ll know which aspects of your product or service will be most appealing. Seller beware, you must confirm your pre-approach assumptions first.
Since we’ve already established credibility, in step two, the goal is to communicate the product’s appeal as it relates to our prospects’ objectives, target market, etc. You’ll want to ask questions to confirm your assumptions and ensure that you’re creating the ideal solution.
For example, the appeal of StartupNation.com is our niche audience, you- the small business owner who is an expert in your space and eager to open or grow your business. StartupNation appeals to its sponsors and advertisers because our audience, you- the entrepreneur and/or small business owner- needs products and services to Start it up! There are certain aspects about the StartupNation audience that will appeal to some advertisers more than others; as such we modify our messaging based on sponsors’ goals to ensure that we are generating relevant appeal. I ask potential sponsors and advertisers questions about their target market, e.g. solo small business owners, or those with 2-5 employees or more, to understand how appealing the StartupNation audience is to the individual prospect. I also ask prospects to share some of their most successful campaign strategies with me, and those that performed poorly. Their answers are inputs into step three, or the ‘Product’ step.
How do you generate appeal? Do you modify pitches based on the industry that you are pitching? Do you include case studies from relevant companies on sales calls? What kinds of questions do you ask? Remember, sales is not a one-size fits all process; the objective of following a process is to capture the info. required to tailor your solution/product/service to the one and only individual prospect you are pitching.