There are five buying decisions all prospects make before they purchase a product or service.

Central in their decision making process is the question:
"What will it do for me?"

A salesperson should imagine this question emblazoned across the forehead of every prospect because it is this question above all that must be answered satisfactorily in order for the sale to take place.

To answer the question, salespeople must first understand what the buying decisions are. Prospects will make value judgments about: the salesperson, the company, the product or service, the price and the time. It's crucial to understand how these decisions are made so you can most positively present each one.
There are seven steps that parallel the five buying decisions:

Approach -
Qualification -
Agreement On Need -
Sell The Company -
Fill The Need -
Act Of Commitment -
Cement The Sale.

As you learn, understand and apply them to your own selling, your confidence and the amount of sales you close will dramatically increase.

Having an exact procedure to follow, without doubt or hesitation, is crucial to your sales success.
The seven-step procedure has been field-tested. Although it is structured it is not canned.

It is completely adaptable to your own personality as well as to the different personalities of your prospects and the specific product or service you sell. Most importantly, each step allows you to focus on being of service to your prospects with complete integrity, using persuasion, not pressure.
When your prospects ask themselves, "What will it do for me?" what they're really looking for is someone they trust who will serve their needs.

Following this sales procedure will allow you to be that person.

In the first step, "approach", you are selling yourself -- your professionalism, your integrity, your good judgment and your trustworthiness. It will be easier to accomplish this if you can establish and maintain rapport with the prospect by continually selling yourself throughout the entire sales cycle. People buy because they like you so wear a sincere smile, use positive language, develop a genuine interest in your prospect, use their name, compliment them, listen to their needs and make them feel important.

During step two, "qualification", you will work to maintain the positive rapport established in the approach step as you shift your focus to the specific business reason for your sales call. This is your information gathering period. During this time you will determine if the prospect has a genuine need for your product or service, if they are the person with the buying authority and if there are adequate funds available for the purchase. You will qualify the person as a genuine prospect by asking open-ended questions to uncover their problems and needs.

Moving into step three, "agreement on need", you will summarize the information you gathered in steps one and two to verify these facts and ensure that you and your prospect are in agreement. Your prospects will buy not because they understand your product or service but because you understand them. Therefore, you must determine their specific needs and effectively demonstrate that you fully grasp and appreciate them.

You will "sell the company" in step four. Your prospects' second buying decision is about your company. Does it operate with integrity? Does it have the competence and capability to perform as promised? Focus on the key points that distinguish your company from the competition. Familiarize your prospects with your firm, its products, its customers and its reputation. Supply your prospects with the information necessary to make this decision positively.

Now you can "fill the need". The next two buying decisions are about the product or service you sell and the price. In step five, you will show your prospects how your product or service solves their problems or fills their needs precisely, as well as the value they will receive for their investment. Ask questions to uncover what fears, uncertainties or doubts your prospects might have and prepare ahead of time to address each one as it comes up. It is crucial that you unearth all of the prospect's concerns prior to discussing price. Should objections surface unexpectedly later in the sales cycle, they could threaten your sale.

The only buying decision left is when to buy. During step six, the "act of commitment", it is time to ask for the order. If the prospect is qualified, summarize the features and the benefits you agreed on, quote the investment or price and ask for the order. If an objection arises, acknowledge it with a neutralizing statement such as, "I see," "I understand," or "I can appreciate that." Then, re-establish areas of agreement by citing three features they liked and add an additional feature-benefit-reaction then, ask for the order.

Finally in step seven you will "cement the sale". Salespeople often mistakenly think their job ends when they close the sale. Really, it's only the beginning. Each sale you close represents an opportunity for new business -- either from referrals or repeat business. Since people buy emotionally and then justify their buying decisions logically, it is important to take time with each of your customers to cement the sale. Develop a summary statement you can use to review the wise, sound and intelligent reasons for the purchase.

To be effective, these seven steps must be followed in the precise order I've presented here because your prospects' five buying decisions are made in a precise, psychological order.
Thus, the seven steps are designed to carry your prospect smoothly through this series of decisions in that same psychological order.

Out of order, the seven steps aren't very effective and aren't likely to produce a sale.

They will only result in a confused prospect and a frustrated, self-doubting salesperson.

Author's Bio: 

ROY CHITWOOD is an author and consultant on sales and customer service. He is the former president and chairman of Sales & Marketing Executives International and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle, 800-488-4629, . If you would like to subscribe to his free Tip of the Week, "You're on Track," please e-mail