A note from Anna:
A big “Thank You” to Valerie Edmon, San Francisco Web Design expert and master of the soft unsell, for letting me publish this article, which originally appeared in her newsletter. My son suffered a concussion yesterday, and Valerie was quick to say, “Is there anything I can do to help?” This article about her sales process is that help!
Valerie Edmon’s 5 Step Sales Process For Lead Conversion
I hate the word “sell.”
It makes me think of a used car lot. When I first decided to start my own company, I was immensely uncomfortable with the idea of selling. I thought it meant I had to sell my soul.
What I found as I grew and grew and eventually grew into Goose Dog Designs was that I actually sold more the less I did this thing called selling.
And I found that success in my business had nothing to do with convincing someone to give me money. In fact, it had nothing to do with money at all. A client’s investment is just that: an investment. It’s what they’re investing in that falls into my job description.
When a client chooses to work with me, it’s because they feel they’ve found their answer in me. Although I don’t do this consciously, here is the not-exactly-patented-but-still-super-helpful 5-step sales process five I always use when talking to a new interested prospect:
#1: Understand Them
In the first encounter with someone who has come to me looking for a solution to their unique and extremely important problem, my number one goal is to shut my big mouth. This is the most valuable gift I can give them at this stage. Ask questions now, don’t answer any yet.
Figure out exactly what it is they’re looking for and then dig deeper to find out what it is the solution to this problem would actually do for them.
They might say they need an online marketing plan that’s automated but what they want is to get offline and spend more time with their family. They might say they need a website that’s more professional-looking but what they want is a boost in sales so they can put their kid through college.
Express clearly that you understand what they need and what they want. Acknowledge that these desires are real and they are valid and that you are going to figure out the perfect way to deliver them.
You are their answer.
#2: Educate Them
Obviously, your prospect came to you because you have expertise that they don’t. So once you’ve figured out what it is they need, your job is to show them your unique perspective on how to solve their problem. Explain clearly your brilliant ideas and change their thinking about how big of a problem they’re facing. Show them that they came to the right place because you know just what to do.
In general terms, paint a picture of the end result you plan to achieve. Let them know you have experience solving similar problems. Don’t belittle them by making them think theirs is an everyday problem with a quick fix, but let them know that your vast experience includes creating solutions to similar problems and that you absolutely love and live to do it.
#3: Collaborate with Them
You might be an expert in your field, but your prospect is an expert in theirs. If you think you can mass produce a solution that works for everyone, you won’t hit it off with anyone. So after giving them the chance to explain their unique problem, it’s time to tailor-make a solution in collaboration with them.
Make them part of the solution. Try to think of it as helping them achieve a goal with your help. The goal is mutual, isn’t it?
In my case, this means learning the ins and outs of a new client’s business so that we can build a custom-made solution that works specifically for them, for their team, for their company, for their clients and customers. How could I know all about these aspects of their business without working closely with them through the planning process?
#4: Clarify for Them
When entering into uncharted territory, nobody likes surprises. You need to make the entire process from start to finish as transparent as possible or your prospect will run away faster than you can say
See how unpleasant that was? Spell everything out clearly for them, from exactly how the transaction will work, what the delivery of the product or service will be like, and how their lives will change as a result of achieving the goal you set out to achieve together.
#5: Gift Them
Now it’s time to do what the suits call closing. But it turns out this is by far the easiest part. In fact, if you’ve followed steps 1-4, then it’s already happened.
You’ve listened carefully and identified the essence of their problem. You gave them a peek into your expertise, showing them that they can trust you to help them solve this problem. You also helped them to craft a clear and achievable solution that works perfectly for them specifically. And you’ve gift-wrapped a mapped-out path that takes them from where they are right now to where they’ll be when you’ve made this solution theirs.
Next step? Point to the “X” when they ask you, “Where do I sign?” Then as always, over-deliver, over-deliver, over-deliver.
So if the problem in your business is that you just can’t seem to sell, try to step back and simply stop trying to sell. Show your next customer that you’re there to solve their problem, and in exchange, they’ll invest in your solution.