This week on Platinum Rules for Success, sales expert Jim Cathcart pulls back the curtain to reveal today’s primary sales competencies and the reason WHY for each. After writing 17 books and delivering over 3,000 professional speeches around the world, Jim Cathcart collaborated with Jeffrey Gitomer and Dr. Tony Alessandra in 2015 on the award winning sales skills assessment, Sales IQ Plus. Building on the eight primary sales competencies tested by that ground-breaking assessment, Jim Cathcart reminds us to remain focused on the true purpose for each. Zig Ziglar famously once said, everyone who works with people works in sales. If he was correct, this week’s story is a must read!
The 8 Primary Sales Competencies: Goal Achievement
by Jim Cathcart
One of the biggest frustrations in business is when we encounter someone who performs the functions of their job without knowing why that function even matters. It’s the typical “bureaucrat” behavior that you occasionally encounter when a clerk just quotes the manual instead of doing what is obviously the right thing instead. “Yes we sell that item but you should have been here before 5pm to get the special deal. It is now 5:05pm and, even though you were in line before 5, I can’t make an exception. Next!”
Many sales people become guilty of that; just doing the actions and forgetting why they matter. Here are the “whys” behind each aspect of the sales cycle.
- Preparation for the sale and preparing yourself. You can be well prepared with information and sales tools, but if you are not in the appropriate frame of mind, or if you do not appear professional to the buyer, you might not get the sale.
- Goal: to be ready to do your job well. Keep on preparing until you are ready to do each aspect of your job well.
- Targeting explores the markets or groups you may target as prospective buyers. Then, we focus on the individuals with whom you will make contact. This includes the sales strategies and tactics you select for each target market. Poor targeting with great selling skills would result in limited success because you would be selling to the wrong people.
- Goal: to be calling on the right people or organizations in the right way to truly be of value to them.
- Connecting is the initial sales contact step, where you must appeal to people intellectually so they will see you as a credible resource, and emotionally so that they will trust you as a person. Without either, you are inhibited from learning enough about them to solve their problems and make a sale.
- Goal: to establish truthful communication with the prospect, so that both of you are able to tell each other the truth.
- Assessing needs and wants uncovers what to sell and how to sell it, primarily through probing and listening. As they say, “In sales as in medicine, prescription before diagnosis is malpractice.”
- Goal: to fully understand the situation, the person and their needs and wants that will lead to a purchase.
- Solving the buyer’s problem, or filling their need, is where most of the sales attention has been placed in the past. This is the part where you present your solutions, tell your stories, demonstrate your product or describe the outcomes that buying will produce. At its lowest level, this is a sales pitch. At its highest level, this is a dialogue where you prove there is great value for them in buying from you.
- Goal: to show the prospect how you can solve their problem or fill their need and to prove it. It’s not just a pitch or presentation but rather it’s a dialogue around how you can help them.
- Confirming is the sales phase where you gain the prospect’s commitment to buy. Confirming is achieved only after you have shown the ability to solve the prospect’s problem. Historically, this has been known as “closing” the sale, but the truth is that it is not an end, but the beginning. It is at this point that the sales professional begins serving the customer and they, in turn, begin paying for the value they receive.
- Goal: to complete the purchase, to confirm their commitment to buy and your commitment to serve them. Typically called “closing” but in reality nothing actually “closes”.
- Assuring clients that the value promised will be received is critical to customer retention. This is where relationships are built and customer loyalty is to be given (by you) more than expected (from them).
- Goal: to cause the buyer to feel satisfied that they made a good decision by buying from you and to lay the groundwork for continuing customer loyalty.
- Managing is the final phase of the sales cycle, where you manage sales and accounts and self-manage yourself. Ultimately, we are all our own ‘sales manager’. This is the phase of selling where you must make yourself do what needs to be done, even when you do not feel like doing it.
- Goal: to gain control over your accounts and the status of your sales efforts, plus to lead, motivate and grow yourself as a sales professional.
The next time you get frustrated about any part of the sales cycle review this list and ask yourself, “Am I truly focused on the goal of THIS step in the cycle?”
When you are ready to do your job well then everything else works better. When calling on the right people in the right way more sales occur. Having truthful communication means fewer objections or stalls. Fully understanding means that you are selling to their primary buying motive. Showing how you can solve their problem increases their desire to buy. Confirming the sale makes the purchase official in their mind and in yours. Assuring satisfaction keeps “buyer’s remorse” away and increases referrals. Managing sales and self means that you are performing as your own sales manager.
Jim Cathcart was chosen one of the Top Sales Influencers of 2014 by Top Sales World Magazine based in London & Paris. In December of 2012 he was inducted into the Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame in London, England. This is in addition to his existing Speaker Hall of Fame listing.