Business networking, when done correctly, can lead to some amazing referrals . However, just because you come highly recommended does not mean the sale is in the bag. You still have to close the sale.
Here are the 5 steps you need to take to turn an opportunity into cash in the bank.
Step 1 – Qualify interest
At this stage you need to check there is a real opportunity and you will not be wasting your time (and your prospect’s time) in pursuing the sale. You want to ensure that there is genuine interest, the authority to buy and the money to pay for it. If the opportunity is real then your job is to fan the flames a little so they are motivated to go to the next stage which is to put time aside to discuss their wants and needs with you.
Step 2 – Discover wants and needs
This stage involves discovering not only what the prospect wants but also why they want it and the consequences of doing nothing. For bigger ticket items you need to identify and speak to the Very Influential People (VIPs) to make sure they will support your proposal
Step 3 – Propose your solution
This is where the selling really begins. Now it is time to present your solution in a way that is highly persuasive.
You now have enough information to know what you are selling and why the prospect will want to buy from you rather than your competition or, alternatively, do nothing.
Normally this will be in the form of a written proposal or quote. It is a sales document and you need to write it as if the readers know nothing about the sale. You may have missed some VIPs and they may need to be convinced. On big sales you may even want to suggest presenting your solution to their board.
Step 4 – Negotiate
Once you present your solution the prospect will raise their reservations. For example, they may have an issue with the price or some aspects of the proposed solution.
Negotiation is an art in itself and my biggest tip is to never give anything away without asking for something of value in return. If it can be worth a lot to you and cost little for the other party you will make it much easier.
Step 5 – Ask for the business
This is what is normally referred to as the close and if you have correctly followed steps 1 to 4 above and you are still talking then this step should be a formality and not scary at all.
Although the above steps are fairly generic, the detailed actions involved at each stage will vary by business. For example, for some businesses this whole process can happen in one short phone call. For others it could involve several meetings over many months.
It helps to be clear as to which step a sales opportunity is at, and what is required to take the sale to the next step in the process. The more effort you put into the early steps of the process, the easier it will be when you come to the later steps.