In this blog post series we'll be discussing the art of selling in a business environment.
Selling is a huge part of Recruitment. Whether you are selling opportunities to candidates, or trying to win business from a major client, the basic sales principles are fundamental to success.
The key objectives of this series are to help you gain an understanding of:
/ Basic sales processes
/ The vital steps necessary to sell your service and gain commitment from clients and candidates
/ Questioning techniques
/ How to overcome objections
/ How to maximise your voice projection
The Sales Structure
To sell effectively and successfully, and fulfil our objectives, we need to follow a clear sales structure.
There are 1000’s of potential sales opportunities (candidates and clients) - we can’t deal with them all. We therefore need to have a technique and structure that:
/ Allows us to assess whether the potential for business can be turned into actual results
/ Enables us to achieve these results
/ Does the above as cost effectively as possible
There are endless different sales structures and courses available with different titles and overcomplicated steps. Although, as always with business, it’s best not to complicate.
Here’s our first tip: keep it simple!
Most sales structures follow the below process;
/ Prepare and research
/ Establish needs
/ Fulfil needs
/ Overcome any objections
/ Close and gain commitment
Step 1 - Prepare & Research
Know your objectives
First we must have a focus before starting the sales process.
There is no point starting the process, unless you know specifically what you want to achieve. Set objectives.
/ Getting a candidate an interview with a client
/ Gaining commitment for a client to use you when recruiting
/ Getting exclusivity on a vacancy from a client
/ Building a relationship and rapport
The list is endless, but without clear objectives you will lack focus and struggle to succeed.
Know your prospect
We must also do some research before beginning the sales process. The extent depends on the situation. If you are making an initial call to a prospective company it will be handy to know the following information:
/ What they do as a business (utilise their website and LinkedIn)
/ If you have previously done business with them
/ How you can help them
/ What specific topic you want to discuss
Step 2 - Introduction
An introduction - simple, but imperative you get this right. First impressions are vital and if you don’t get this stage right, you probably won’t succeed.
/ Smile (even if you’re on the phone.) Be professional, and take confidence from the fact that you are well prepared
/ Introduce yourself - first and last name, what your job is and the company you represent, and what the company does (ensure this is orientated to appeal to the prospect’s strategic issues)
/ Set the scene - explain the purpose and again, orientate around your prospect, not yourself
“I’d like to learn about your situation, and then if appropriate, to explain how we (your own company) can help. Then if there looks as though there might be some common ground, to agree how we could move to the next stage.”
Concentrate on being clear, friendly and professional. Again, keep it simple.
Step 3 - Establish needs
At this stage we must gather information to help us understand how we can help the prospect and what their needs are. It gives us the opportunity to be chat and build rapport with the prospect.
You need to make sure you are listening.
Follow the 90/10 rule. The prospect should be doing 90% of the talking and you 10% - not the other way round.
Find out as much as you can from using open-ended questions. Keep the conversation flowing by confirming you understand the information given.
We are asking a lot of questions, but the way in which we ask them is more important than what we ask.
/ Who, what, where, why, when and how
/ Phrases such as ‘describe that to me’ and ‘explain that to me’
Why open questions are vital
/ They get your prospect talking about themselves and their needs
/ You get in-depth answers
/ It prevents ‘yes’ or ‘no’ responses
/ No assumptions are made
/ No agenda is revealed
/ They give you time to think
Always remember to confirm back to the prospect what they have expressed;
/ To show you understand
/ To show you have listened
/ To check your own understanding
Step 4 - Fulfil Needs
At this point you make a business decision as to whether or not you are in a position to help the prospect, taking into consideration the information you have gathered.
If the decision is yes, you match the services you can offer to the prospects stated needs.
This is now your opportunity to actually sell.
Discuss features of your service that match the client’s needs and discuss how the features can specifically benefit the prospect. Example below:
“We are pure specialists in accountancy recruitment.”
“This means we know accountancy inside out, and what to look for when hiring accountancy staff. We’ve got a deep understanding of accountancy roles, and we find the right candidates that are capable of succeeding, saving you time when recruiting.”
Step 5 Overcoming objections
Ofcourse you will get objections but don’t worry. These are to be expected and are a normal part of the buying and selling process. They normally mean that the prospect simply needs further information. Don’t panic, don’t argue, don’t be defensive, and don’t rush in. Be positive and patient.
Overcoming objections - the formula:
4 Sell benefits
Find out why they think that way? What is the real problem? What reassurance do they need?
If you don’t do this, you won’t understand their real problem and will waste time overcoming a false objection. The real problem will block the sale later on.
Express that you understand and that you are able to see it from their point of view. If not, they will feel bullied when you try to overcome it.
Check that you understood their problem correctly and you know what their concerns are.
Reiterate the benefits of the features you are trying to sell to them that match their needs.
Get them to confirm that they are now happy - don’t assume.
Step 6 - Close and gain commitment
Get their commitment to close the deal that will achieve your objectives. You need to ask for it. Be confident that you have followed the process, matched their specific needs, overcome any objections and therefore made the close easy for you.
Agree the next steps and confirm commitment. Examples
“Are you happy we have covered everything and would you like
to go ahead?”
“From what we have discussed today, I presume you will be happy to give me the first call on your next vacancy?”