The primary question, of course, is do you know the difference?
When a prospect makes a decision to buy something, it is a personal choice. When a prospect feels like they were sold something, you should expect some type of retaliation. No one wants to feel like they were sold something. The solution is to give your prospects the opportunity to buy. Precisely how you do that is determined by the quality of your selling system.
When you or your prospect are shopping online for an item, that might cost a few dollars to a few thousand, there is all the time in the world to satisfy all of the elements necessary to make the purchase. The prospect eliminates the competition, isolates the affordable price points, and satisfies their comfort level with who they are willing to purchase from. In this situation, the prospect is in control of the entire sales cycle. When the prospect is in control of the sales cycle the salesperson is little more than an order taker if he or she is present at all. Most higher ticket sales require an effective selling system, a competent salesperson, and perhaps most importantly, a salesperson that is capable of controlling the sales cycle.
In the above example, the prospect knows both that he or she is in control of the purchase decision and controls the timing of the purchase. There is no one present that can help steer the purchase decision or modify the purchase timing. You can’t consider the expensive video or exit popup to be decision modifiers because the prospect knows that they can click away whenever they want. The prospect remains in control. In fact, if a competitor has a video they like better, advertises ridiculously low prices, or a picture of a home that looks similar to theirs your company could be eliminated from consideration without even a whisper of opportunity. How about that live chat feature that you had added to the web site? That doesn’t count either. Prospects use chat to clarify something that isn’t clear and if you try to use their contact info as lead after the chat completes (without their explicit permission) you will never sell them anything. Without a skilled salesperson present to help steer the decision and modify the purchase timing any sales that you make from your marketing are a gift.
I am not suggesting that your online marketing is wasted. I am, however, suggesting that marketing costs are lower for generating leads than they are for generating sales, AND allowing the prospect to control the sales cycle through marketing lands you in the position of never knowing how many sales opportunities you missed. The more you focus your advertising dollars on producing sales the more control you pass to the prospect.
Yes, but… Prospects resist turning over the control of a purchasing decision to a salesperson, don’t they?
And therein lies the perplexity between buying or selling.
Who’s In Control?
The most successful salesperson will control the sales cycle with such a delicate touch that the prospect will hardly notice that they relinquished control. The prospect will feel as though they bought, similar to the feeling they had in the online example above, except that it all happened within an hour or two.
Controlling the sales cycle is the single most important skill that determines the success or failure of a salesperson. Everything else is secondary, including the art of listening. The salesperson that can control the sales cycle with the touch of a feather will be at or near the top performer on the sales team, month in and month out. On the other hand, management will be dealing with complaints and cancellations relating to the salesperson that uses control as strength, power, or intimidation. Using this description, sales cycle control would be defined as the art and science of directing a conversation toward a predetermined objective. Sounds like something big and complex, doesn’t it? It isn’t really that big because it is completely trainable, within the structure of a high-quality direct selling system.
Control, as a general subject, is a little tricky. No one wants to be “controlled,” wouldn’t you agree? Especially when it comes to a decision to spend thousands of dollars. So then, sales cycle control must be honest and genuine. The mechanics or science of sales cycle control can be taught, but the individual application and perfection of the technique is the art. You will find that the new salespeople, fresh out of training, struggle with this concept more than product knowledge, remaining silent (aka keeping one’s mouth shut), or fielding objections. But you will find that the best students will start closing sales while they are perfecting the art, with little more than the belief in the selling system.
This is where your trainer’s skillset comes in. Your trainer must thoroughly understand the subject of sales cycle control so that he or she can effectively instruct others in the application and nuances of the subject. Words on a page in a training document or manual will seldom be enough to produce a thorough understanding. Sales cycle control is the most important ability that a salesperson can learn and develop. Your trainer must be up to the task.
Perhaps more importantly for the company, direct selling through a skilled sales team is completely measurable. Advertising effectiveness can be measured in terms of cost per lead, sales effectiveness in terms of conversion percentage, and sales retention in terms of cancellation percentage. And while it seems as though most of these metrics are the same in the selling through advertising model, the truth is that the advertising model is skewed by never knowing how many prospects eliminated themselves before you were aware of anything beyond viewers or visitors. In the direct selling model of metrics, actual people are accountable for their performance at every stage. And since people are accountable, that’s something you can do something about if you have the right selling system. Despite the negative hype, most people welcome accountability and responsibility and take pride in doing their job well.
This article specifically deals with direct selling and direct selling systems (direct selling sales funnels). If you found your way here while looking for web-based sales funnels please click here for the hands-down, definitive web-based sales funnel solution.