While many reasons contribute to losing a sale, the top reason by far is simply not following the selling process. Like a dancer who doesn’t know the steps looks foolish on the dance floor, a sales person not following this process appears disjointed and unprofessional, loses connection with the prospect, and forfeits the sale.

Mike Kaplan in his excellent book Secrets of a Master Closer defines eight specific steps in the sales process. These steps must be followed in order – and none may be bypassed in order to “dance” successfully with your prospect.

1) Introduction: Grab attention, get the prospect’s agreement to talk about his/her needs.

2) Qualify the Prospect: What’s the general need and budget?

3) Find the Problem: Ask questions to determine specific problems and define exact needs.

4) Set Up the Presentation: “Sell” the problem to the prospect. Get agreement the problem indeed needs to be solved.

5) Presentation: Sell the solution, handle objections, create opportunities to close.

6) Establish a Yes-Pattern: Get consistent agreement and use “tie-down” statements.

7) Wants Product: Prospect gives buying signals, watch for them.

8) Close the Deal: Close on the Product/Service Concept and the Price/Terms.

At this point, if you’ve matched the right product or service with the prospect’s specific needs, the sale is made and the prospect becomes another satisfied customer.

Now dance your happy dance as you collect the profits and move along to the next prospect. –RG