David Sandler created what he called “verbal contracts”, an entire system designed to take back control of the sales process from the customer. Founded on basic principles of psychology, it works just as well today as it did in 1966.
Step One: Establish Rapport
The short version of bonding and rapport is simple—always make the prospect feel better than you feel. The easiest way to do this is to make sure you don't appear to have answers at your fingertips, even if you do. Allow your prospects to "know it all." As Sandler points out, selling is not about yourself feeling comfortable, it's about closing the sale.
Step Two: Establish an Up-Front Contract
This step is designed to create mutual agreement about what will get done in the sales call once you are in front of the prospect. An upfront contract should contain five elements:
The objective, which is the goal the prospect shares with you.
The time allowed for the meeting. Always make sure you have an agreement about how long you have to spend with the prospect.
The salesperson’s role, what they will do before, during, and after the discussion.
The prospect’s role, what they will do before, during, and after the discussion.
The conclusion, which is what you both agree will happen at the end of the meeting.
Step Three: Uncover the Prospects’ Pain
When people make decisions, they are either moving towards pleasure or moving away from pain. In any sales situation, you need to have a prospect who understands their pain and has a strong desire to get rid of it. To uncover a prospect's pain you must determine how long they’ve had their problem, probe their pain by then asking questions, and finally help them through their pain with your products or services.
Step Four: Discuss Money
This is the most important step in the entire process. You want to bring this up early. Mostly because this early in the process is when they’re most likely to pay you to get rid of their problem. A good way to open this conversation might go like this: “Mr. Smith, do you have a budget set aside for this? Would you mind sharing it with me in round numbers?”
Step Five: Deal with Decision Makers
To truly understand your prospect's decision-making process, you should take the news story approach.
- What: What does the process involve? What are the specific steps?
- When: By when does the prospect want or need to complete the purchase?
- How: How will the ultimate decision be made?
- Where in the organization are the decisions made? Who: Who is involved in the decision-making process? Who can influence the decision? Who has final buying authority? Who has veto power?
Step Six: Present the Solution
When you make your presentation, you'll begin by reviewing all the conclusions you reached with the prospect, including the agreements you made on pain, budget, and the decision making. Next, you'll move into the features and benefits of your product or service, with a focus on how those can solve your prospect's pain. Remember to say what you need to demonstrate that you are removing their pain.
Step Seven: Reinforce the Sale
The sale is closed when the money is in your bank account. The buyer could still cancel. To avoid this you can ask for agreement from your prospect that a cancelation won’t happen. This will make it much harder for the prospect to back out because people tend to act consistently with how they say they will act.