As I am traveling back today from Florida, I have asked a mentor of mine to share with you some of the process that go into HOW we deal with our customers. He is a friend, mentor and advisor of mine and I would like to share some of the information and training that he has shared with me.
Without further ado I would like introduce Mr Sean Lewis.
Here we are in 2022, and living in a world that was only a futuristic idea 20 plus years ago. We currently have devices that fit in our pocket that can do so much that we were not able to accomplish back then. The fact that we can communicate and stay in touch with just about anyone within seconds without having to go to land line or pay phone is incredible.
But while technology has changed, human desires has not, however our behavior of how we interact has grossly been changed.
What has happened?
Well there are several statistics how technology has had a major impact on adults and children. I have a personal opinion of what I believe is a common source.
Technology has allowed us to take several short cuts in our interactions with each other. What used to be a simple phone call to, has quickly become a conversation via text messaging or email. Just think about all the communication you have on a daily basis via an actual phone call versus a text message that was not possible back in the day. This has allowed us to overlook emotions and anything that is typical to pick up in human form.
When it comes to business, we have too quickly evolved away from the days of door to door sales, to now where we rely on emails, text messages and any other form of mass digital media. This has made it easier to communicate with a broader range of prospects and of course you are not the only one that is doing this.
Understanding the Process of the Sales Cycle
In the sales process, understanding needs and wants of a prospect you wish to do business with, is a critical part for success. The use of technology has allowed us to easily skip and neglect several parts of the sales cycle. But let’s take a quick second to go over the sales cycle for those of you that might not be familiar with it
The general sales cycle consists of seven steps. Those are as followed:
1. Pre-Approach: Doing the research and investing to who you are going to target.
2. Approach: How you are going to connect with the person
3. Discovery and Needs Analysis: Learning about the needs and wants of a particular prospect
4. Presentation: How can you align what you have to have to offer based on the needs and wants of the person you wish to do business with.
5. Validation: Getting a simple “yes” or “no” from the person based on what you presented.
6. Closing: Getting a commitment to move forward with a transaction for your product or service.
7. Follow Up/Engagement: After business has been conducted, what are you doing to continue to build the relationship for future engagements.
Although this process is simple it is most often neglected and certain steps are easily skipped. So what does that look like? Well just think back on your last week and evaluate how you have communicated with anyone you wished to do business with. Ask yourself the following questions?
1. Did I use my phone or computer to research everything I could find about the prospect I was wanting to connect with?
2. Did I strategize the best way to connect for the first point of contact to begin building the relationship with that prospect?
3. Did I prepare questions based on my research about that prospect to have an engaging meeting when the opportunity presented itself?
4. Did I take the time to put together a well crafted verbal or visual presentation to show how I could meet the needs of the prospect?
5. After I was able to present, did I ask the person I was talking to to confirm whether or not I met their needs or provided a valuable solution to their needs.
6. Did I ask for the business?
7. What is my plan for following up and keeping connected with the prospect whether the sales went through or not? Did I even ask them how they would like me to stay connected with them?
Self-awareness of analyzing this cycle mentioned above is a critical step for you to build a solid foundation in being a professional that displays a culture of out caring and out educating. Sometimes it is too important first where you might have holes in your process before you can be the resource you want to be for your current and prospective customers.
The Journey to Out Caring and Out Educating
Nine years ago I accepted a position to be the Director of Business Development for a growing Restoration Franchise in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Upon arriving, I developed a vision with the owner of the company that stated we will be a company that “Out Cares and Out Educates.” What this stood for is that we would elevate our company to care more and share more educational resources when it came to competing in this space. Now you’re probably asking, How do you do that in the restoration industry. It seems to be pretty simple. Shit happens and you get called to clean it up. Well that is how the majority of the industry thinks but we working looking to grow the business as a much faster rate than the general consensus.
How do you create a company that Out Cares and Out Educates?
This can be a different process for many companies but let me start by showing how this was done for the business I had the opportunity to be a part of. In the Restoration Industry, the hiring of sales and marketing reps has been a shit show from the very beginning. Individuals are hired and trained to just “run routes” and pitch what they have to offer. Many times deviating far away from parts of the sales cycle. Being aware of this, I did not want to lead an organization that executed on failed principles for years but start something different that produced a positive rate of return for the teams efforts.
So what did we do different? Well it was honestly quite simple. We focused a lot of our research and needs analysis based around finding ways to discuss how to prevent disasters and opportunities to help prospects be better prepared.
You mean to tell me that you were trying to educate businesses you wanted to obtain work from, how to prevent losses from happening?
Yes that is absolutely correct. Because like every other sales person in the industry that is plowing through the door and leaving some useless piece of crap behind, we wanted to find ways to provide value that actually benefited our prospective clients that would actually leave them wanting to engage again.
But you might be saying we do that all the time and it doesn’t work.
Well what does your consistency look like because it doesn’t happen overnight. Creating a culture that displays out caring and out educating is something that has to be lived and breathed every day. Not just in your day to day meetings, but in events, and anything else that you do for work.
For us we took advantage of creating “no cost” Emergency Planning Profiles that helped document critical information to minimize a loss. This covered everything from making a printed and digital copy of where shut off valves where to who to contact in case of an Emergency. We took a deep look at their insurance policy to validate if they had adequate coverage on their building structure to the contents within their business. (You would be surprised how underinsured many facilities are) The beautiful thing about creating these profiles for businesses is it allowed us to frequently follow up and visit the prospects in the course of completing them. This was a main factor in helping strengthen and develop relationships based on value and not just asking for more business.
But Did it Work?
Over the course of the year, our sales team was able to execute several hundred of these profiles across the local market. We quickly saw a huge increase in Commercial Revenue by over $2,000,000 and the momentum continued from there. When looking at the statistics of these key relationships, over 80% of commercial revenue had an Emergency Planning Profile in place.
However, it is important to note that this was not another check off the box task that was poorly executed. Not only did these profiles take time and efforts to complete, with a lot of following up, they were maintained and communicated with frequently after completed. This is a step that directly goes with sales cycle that many failed sales professionals neglect to do.
It is important to understand that this is not just a do and done process. You have to have the passion and heart to show that you truly believe in the efforts of what you are providing and able to answer questions and provide valuable feedback to the customer at any given time. Sometimes you might not have the answer to a question, but I can guarantee someone in your organization can provide you with a proper answer to respond. Providing an authentic persona you truly believing in the process is instrumental to the impact of what you’re looking to accomplish.
Who do you want to be known as in your industry?
Your reputation is something that is more important than any job or position you currently hold. Although the example above is just one way on how you can implement a strategy of out caring and out educating, remember it is up to you to execute. Too many times you read something that inspires you to make changes, but fail to take action. But I can tell you this, no matter what position you are in at your company, there is always an opportunity to provide more care and more education to your customers.
Ask yourself a few key questions:
What does that look like for you?
What changes do you need to make to be more connecting?
What do you know that can be a valuable to others?
Who can you connect with for answers and more knowledge that can eventually be provided to others?
How to you want people to perceive you?
These are just a few of the questions you can ask yourself to begin a journey on being a true professional that cares more and educates more for your customers and prospects. No one said it is easy but when you start to build and implement the right habits of value, the results start to change.
Keep caring, keep educating.
Sean Michael Lewis
Sean Michael Lewis is the Founder and CEO of Tier Level Enterprises located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Over the years Sean has created several businesses from Tier Level Digital Marketing, an International Digital Marketing Agency for Service Based Companies, Printed Theory, a Full Service Screen Printing and Merchandising Company, and Restoration Sales University which is a Digital Course to Provide a Proven System for Sales and Marketing Professionals that will be launching in January 2023. Sean is also the host of two growing podcasts, The Niche Experience and Screen Printing Marketing. Learn more about Sean Michael Lewis by visiting https://www.seanmichaellewis.com