Every sale has a process. In this issue, we explore the first of three steps in a successful six-step selling process. The last three steps of the process will appear in the next installment of On the Sales Side.

1. Planning
The traditional sales advice is still the best: “plan your work and work your plan.”

Selling is tough, and if done without a plan, it is almost impossible to make your numbers and reach your income goals.

Plan out each day, week, month and beyond. Plan where you are going and what you are going to do when you get there.

The closer the time period, the more specific you need to be. Monthly and quarterly planning is a must, but as the call gets closer you need be more specific. Begin your day by writing down every call you’re planning on making that day.

Review your plan after each time period and grade yourself. Adjust where necessary and be honest with yourself when conducting a self-evaluation.

2. Getting the appointment.
Many times we call on people without an appointment. Some customers expect to see you on a regular basis, but I wonder if this reflects a leaning toward “order taking” and/or “visiting” rather than a “sales call.” Your customer has other work to do and may feel imposed upon.

Expand your horizons and start making some appointments with new prospects or give your current customers the courtesy of calling ahead “to discuss something new.” Make your sales call more important to both your customer and yourself. This requires planning.

When making the appointment, working around voicemail is tough because it requires some creative messages to encourage your prospect to call you back. Again, planning is a must.

3. Discovering your customer’s problems and objectives.
In order to determine a need, you need to know something about your customer’s business — their business in general, and their product needs in particular.

In many cases, your customers have Web sites. Their Web site will give you a lot of information about that account, such as key personnel, general information, number of employees, number of buildings, etc.

When was the last time you visited your customers’/prospects’ Web sites?

"“Cold calls” help even if you aren’t making contact with decision makers. Use your powers of observation.

Look at the entryway inside and out. Ask: “Who is in charge of cleaning your facilities?”
Ask other questions about the facility. Find out who is in charge of purchasing the paper towels and tissue, hand soap and track off mats.

Determine if the cleaning crew is pleased with the results produced by the products used in their cleaning program.

Somewhere along the line, try to get into a restroom. As we know, in this business, you can learn a lot by looking around a prospect’s restroom.

When you get a name, ask if that person is in, and if you can get a meeting. If you are told to call for an appointment, try to make that call from the lobby.

As is the case with voicemail, you need to have a plan for what opening statement you will use. Cleaning for health and safety are hot button topics, for example.

To share your selling ideas, fax: (414) 228-1134, contact Mr. Dixon at (877) 379-3566 or e-mail seiche.sanders@tradepress.com.