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Confusion abounds in business from who is the best person to hire to where should I place my limited resources of time, energy, emotions and dollars. No where is this more evident from my experience than within the sales process.

Small business owners, sales professionals to C Level or C Suite executives confuse marketing skills and subsequent behaviors with selling skills and behaviors. This confusion may help to explain why anywhere from 40 per cent to 70% of all sales targets are missed.

In working with clients, I share a 3 Phase, seven step sales process that clearly separate marketing and selling skills. The first two steps are all about marketing. Absolutely NO selling takes place during this time. The goal of this first phase is to make a friend and to be asked back.

Now, the second phase is where the selling skills shine. During the next four steps, the sales professional conducts fact finding, presents the case to take action, earns the sale and ensures the delivery of the sale. Unfortunately, far too many salespeople ignore the delivery of the sale and relegate this action to customer service or support. As I ask in my new book on sales, Be the Red Jacket in a Sea of Gray Suits, "Whose business card does your client have?" The answer for 99% of those involved in selling is simply "Mine." Sales professionals need to embrace "The buck stops here" philosophy of President Harry Truman.

In the third phase, seventh step, marketing skills once again surface. The goal here is to simply ask for three referrals. If you have expected the sales process flawlessly up to this step, then receiving three referrals is almost a "no-brainer." This is one step many in sales totally skip and end up working harder not smarter.

When organizations (no matter what they are selling including not for profits who are seeking donations) follow a proven sales process, they can dramatically increase sales in a relatively short time depending upon their sales cycle time. Another benefit of a proven sales process is determining where missteps are being made and allowing for corrective actions.

From my experience, 90 per cent of sales professionals, business owners and C Level executive will continue to play "Captain Wing It" by spraying and praying their actions all over the place with the hope that something will stick. Their beliefs (a proven sales process is not necessary) will drive their behaviors creating their results.

Change is not easy. Yet if the goal is to increase sales, then now is the time to take corrective action so when the economy rebounds, your business can truly reap exceptional rewards.

 
About the Author:
 
Leanne Hoagland-Smith is, simply speaking, a results driven executive and sales coach. She brings practical and positive return on investment solutions by focusing on the real problems not the symptoms posing as problems. Her first book "Be the Red Jacket in the Sea of Gray Suits, The Keys to Unlocking Sales Success" is due out in May of 2009.


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