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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sales Process

For write-ups on other topics of marketing and sales management, refer: (Marketing Management Overview), (Marketing Orientation), (Marketing Management Tasks), (Market research), (Market Segmentation), (Advertising), (Sales Promotion), (Sales/Selling Process), (Negotiation Skills), (Negotiation Tactics), (Objection Handling)

(Refer our High Quality Management Encyclopedia at:

Sales (Selling) and Buying (Purchasing)

  • One sells goods (physical products), services and concepts/ideas to some one else.
  • Selling generally involves giving away the goods, services or ideas to some one in exchange of money.
  • One can not sell unless some one wants to buy what one wants to sell.
  • Seller needs to convince the buyer to buy the things he wishes to sell. Buyer does not buy unless he feels convinced.
  • As a person selling his stuff has to go through a systematic sales (or selling process), the buyer also goes through a pretty much systematic process of buying the stuff.
  • Logically, the selling process must overlap (superimpose) and complement the buying process for both the processes to be successful. It should go parallel with the buying process.
  • Therefore, knowledge of purchasing process or buying process is important for a seller.
Customer Motivation to Buy
  • Buyers have needs and to satisfy those needs, they buy. Customer needs are the focal point of any sales transaction.
  • Buyers buy for their reasons and not necessarily for seller's reasons.
  • Customers buy a product for what they perceive it will do for their unmet needs, not for what that product is physically.
  • Customers buy solutions and benefits and not product features and specifications.
  • Human beings are unique and complex.
  • Needs of human beings vary from person to person and from time to time. For example, a hungry person will seek food where as another person may have a need not to eat or to diet. This person will look out for things other than food that will solve his this need.
  • According to Abraham Maslow human needs are classified in five categories and are satisfied in a hierarchical order. Refer: (Motivation)
  • This need hierarchy or order of priority of needs in general is: Physical needs, security needs, social needs, ego needs and self-actualization needs.
  • One or many of these unmet needs trigger a motivation in the form of a tension in the customer.
  • Uncovering this need may be done by the buyer himself or facilitated by the seller. Once the need is thus uncovered, the buyer experiences a tension and in order to satisfy that need, the buyer is motivated to buy.
Buying Process

Stage 1: As described earlier, the customer must experience a tension state. The tension motivates the customer to zero in on his needs and to satisfy it. A sales person may introduce this tension by making the customer aware of a previously unrecognized need.
Stage 2: The sales person must present a product or service or an idea to the customer which fills that need. Here, anything from a catalogue to a sales person or a sales team can fill the role of a sales person.
Stage 3: The customer must overcome his natural reluctance to make a purchase decision and buy the product. It is here sales person's competence comes to play as to how he can convince that it is the article he is selling fulfils the best the customer needs. Moving away from a general want of a particular product that the customer is in knowledge of, the sales person should try to position his offer as the right solution to meet the customer need by uncovering his real needs though it may be quite different from the usual products the customer is wanting. It is necessary for a seller to know this difference between customer's want and his need.

Sales (Selling) Process: Need Based Solution and Benefit Selling

Sales process should complement the buying process.

Stage 1: Prospecting: Selling requires a procedure for generating a list of customer leads. This procedure is known as prospecting. Blind prospecting relies on various trade directories and other general listings of potential customers. With blind prospecting a small percentage of people contacted will be interested in the firm's offerings. Lead prospecting depends on past customers and others for referrals and studied identification of the prospective customers based on factors of shortlisting of prospects, data and analysis.
Stage 2: Approach: Approaching includes pre-approach and actual contact or meeting. During pre-approach, the sales person tries to obtain information about the customers characteristics from various sources. With this information, his effectiveness during contact/meeting improves. In contacting or meeting the customers, the sales person begins a communication or conversation with the prospective client.
Stage 3: Customer Needs: To begin with what the sales person may get from the prospective customer are his wants. He already knows some products or articles and he is expressing his requirements in those terms. The sales person should probe through a variety of questions, the customers exact needs by helping him to uncover those needs. It may include client's existing concerns, the types of solutions he expects, the feature and benefits he is interested in, the budget aspects etc.
Stage 4: Sales Presentation: Having known the needs of the customer, the sales person should work out a matching solution consisting of the most appropriate product from firm's product portfolio (examine customization if required and feasible), the associated services and benefits. He should then present this as his proposal to address the customer's needs. He can send a written proposal and make a physical presentation to the customer. He should also demonstrate the product (when appropriate). the purpose of sales presentation is to convert an undecided customer into a purchaser.
Stage 5: Handling Attitudes and Handling Objections: After presentation, sales person must answer questions from the customers. The questions are normally of two types: one requiring further information and the other raising attitudes/objections that must be settled before the sales is made. For more on this topic refer:
Stage 6: Closing: Now the sales person is ready for the major goal i.e. closing the sale. this involves getting customer to agree to purchase. The sales person must be sure that no major questions remain unanswered before attempting to close the sale.
Stage 7: Follow-up: After the client has made the purchase, the sales people should follow-up with the customer to ensure that he is satisfied. By this the customer gains satisfaction, referrals are stimulated and repeat orders are possible.

For More Guidance, Assistance, Training and Consultation


Training in "Sales Skills" and "Sales Management" is provided by Prodcons Group's Mr Shyam Bhatawdekar, high flier business executive, renowned management consultant and trainer- par excellence, with distinction of having trained over 150,000 people from around 250 organizations.

Also refer: (Prodcons Group), (Training Programs by Prodcons Group), (Productivity Consultants)

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