What’s your definition of the word “Selling?” Here’s mine:

“Representing your products, services and solutions in the best interest of the other person or party -- so that their requirements, needs and visions are overachieved in a time-frame that they define.”

There are four activities that can help us implement this more accurate definition of selling when we’re pursuing second appointments Important note: Only two of the four involve making “buy” recommendations which means that we’re “selling” during those activities.
Let’s look in depth at all four:

To explore means to search out, to investigate the unknown, to learn something new.

Exploring typically means asking questions like: “Tell me all about how your business operates.” Or: “How many employees work here?” Or: “How many different locations do you have?” Or: “How much do you think you spend each month on network services?” Or: “How many output devices do you currently have in your department?”

Quick quiz: If you were to choose from a hierarchy of players that included a Recommender (someone who’s opinion is respected), an Influencer (someone who can change the minds of others), a Decision-Maker (someone with the “yes” power), or an Approver the person with the ultimate veto power), who would be your first choice for a conversational partner when it comes to Exploring?

If you said “Recommender,” congratulations – you’re on the right track. The most important thing to bear in mind here is that it’s usually a waste of everyone’s time trying to get these people to decide to buy from you!

To initiate means, “to begin to put into motion, or to introduce knowledge relevant to the subject or discussion at hand.”

Initiating is the point in our sales process where we begin to map our products, services and solutions to the needs we’ve uncovered during our exploring activities.

Given the four players we’re working with who would be your first choice as the person to interact with when it comes to initiating?

Of course – we want to match our initiating sales activity with the Influencer(s), those analysts who serve, perhaps in addition to other formal roles, as the important advisors to the organization’s Decision-Makers and Approvers.

It’s important to understand what Influencers can – and can’t – do for you. Anyone who’s sold professionally for more than, say, a year or so knows that these people, like Influencers, are not the best people to target for “buy” decisions or your “sales” efforts.

What comes to mind when you think of the word “sponsor”? Words like, coach, champion, mentor, or backer. A sponsor is someone who has a strong belief in your idea, and/or will vouch for your credibility.

When applied to our sales process, sponsoring means acting in such a way that the best interest of others can be served. This, of course, connects back to that definition of selling we looked at a little earlier.

Given the four people within the organization we could be connecting with – Recommender, Influencer, Decision Maker, and Approver -- who is the best candidate for us to target as the sponsor of our sales process?

You’ve got it, of course. It’s the Decision-Maker, reason being…that they know what’s going on and who’s making it happen. They have direct access up and down the hierarchy. It’s not a problem for them to connect with the Approver and relate to the Influencers and Recommenders. Successful Decision-Makers are in alignment with the entire enterprise and for the most part are upwardly mobile.

Whenever you are leveraging, you are consciously drawing another person’s attention to any one (or all) of the following circumstances:

1. Your products, services and solutions can measurably add value to your prospect’s/customer’s enterprise.

2. You can clearly articulate and demonstrate (with referrals, case studies, and/or testimonials) that you can deliver this value.

3. Your conviction about your products, services and solutions is unshakable and evident.

When it comes to leveraging, whom within the organization would you target? Okay, this was a little bit of a trick question. You must be prepared to engage in leveraging with Approvers – which is the answer I bet you came up with. And … you must also be ready to leverage with Decision-Makers, too. Just like Approvers, they are interested in hard dollar and soft dollar value, and you must be willing to make your case to your sponsor before you make it to the Approver who will be giving the final go-ahead on the sale.

Let me emphasize that you must be willing to articulate, with credibility and passion, both hard dollar and soft dollar value results in your discussions with Decision-Makers and Approvers. Sometimes salespeople focus exclusively on one or the other, and that cuts down your opportunity and I know you don’t want to do that!

Author's Bio: 

Anthony Parinello is a Wall Street Journal best-selling author, nationally known sales trainer and Talk-show host. His books have sold over 700,000 copies and he has personally trained more than one million salespeople. To find out more visit his web site at www.sellingtovito.com or tune-in to his weekly Internet talk show at www.sellingacrossamerica.com. You can order his newest book “Getting the Second Appointment” How to Close any Sale in Two Call on www.amazon.com and www.Barnes&Noble.com