The Anatomy of a Sale

Let’s study the healthy anatomy first

To be effective in any field, you must understand the basics of what you do.  You have to study the craft of selling.  As an Ag sales professional, you sell to farmers and agribusiness buyers.  That’s the big picture of what you do.  Today, I want to make sure you understand the internal anatomy of what actually happens when selling. 

In veterinary school, my daughter spent a lot of time in anatomy classes.  What I noticed is that the classes always started out by studying the normal, healthy anatomy first.  Once a base line of knowledge was established on the proper function of the animal anatomy, then they studied the dysfunctional anatomy.  They learned what the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment when kidneys fail, the circulatory system is blocked up, or nerve damage occurs. 

That’s our journey for the next couple weeks.  Today, we cover the normal, healthy anatomy of a sale.  Next time, we will dig into the challenges when our sales anatomy is dysfunctional. 

The 5 Systems that make up a healthy sales anatomy:

  • Purpose: The Preparation System makes sure we are standing in front of the right customer at the right time.  It also ensures we are prepared to perform the other components of a healthy sale.  It sets us up for success like no other part of the anatomy.  It is also the number one reason salespeople fail in their efforts.
  • Components:
    • Customer and Market Segmentation
    • Pre-call planning
    • Research on a customer and using that research when selling to them
    • Written high value questions specific to this customer
    • Technical planning by bringing most likely material needed to present on products
    • Rough answers to the most likely objections
    • A goal in mind for this sales call and a rough agenda of how to get there

  • Purpose: The Discovery System makes sure we are customizing our sales solutions to each customer.  It allows us to understand their concerns and desired results.  The focus is all on the customer.  The longer and more thorough this system is, the higher your success rate of making a sale.  This is the second most common area that causes sales failure.
  • Components:
    • High value question skills
    • Negotiation Skills
    • Written questions so you don’t forget or stray too far off topic
    • Answers to the 4 Why questions:  Why me?  Why my company? Why change? Why change now?”
    • Enough information to negotiate best solutions
    • An effective diagnosis of the customer’s needs based on their words
    • The impact to the customer if they do or do not make a change to the solution you are recommending

  • Purpose: The Performance System is just that; a performance.  It is all about showing the customer that you listened to their problems and have a customized solution that will help solve those problems.  We want to use all of the learning tools we can to be memorable and dislodge the status quo.  You won’t be memorable if you present your products the same as everyone else.  So, it’s time to bring in some advanced selling strategies like demos or live product examples as best you can. 
  • Components:
    • Solutions positioned to their need versus presentations on our products
    • Check-ins to gain agreement or clarification
    • Data, charts and graphs
    • Demo’s, stories, and emotion
    • The entire power of your company resources!
    • A most likely path

  • Purpose: The Closing System is where we summarize the need, provide the solution, and then ask the customer to take the next step.  At some point, it’s time to “fish or cut bait” as the saying goes.  We need to bring the discussion to an end and determine what the next steps will be.  In a healthy sales anatomy, this might be anything from a closing question to scheduling the next sales call. 
  • Components:
    • A summary
    • An agreement
    • A closing question
    • Silence!
    • Handling objections
    • Promise and exit

  • Purpose: The Future System keeps the door open for future sales development.  It shows your customer that you are in this business for the long haul.  You aren’t going anywhere.  You have done your homework, you are a professional in their industry, and you intend to work with them someday.  It also gives you the right mentality as a salesperson.  The crux of that mentality is, “It’s never over and you never quit on a prospect/customer”. 

Planning now for the next steps helps you avoid being “ghosted”.  It also makes it easier to get back in front of this customer by avoiding vague times such as: “someday, or another day, later, after planting, when I’m not so busy, etc.”

  • Components:
    • Next appointment on your phone calendar
    • Bringing back promised information
    • Customer contact outside of the standard sales process
    • Build your brand in the market
    • A Trusted Advisor Approach to your business
    • Networking

As mentioned, this is the ideal anatomy.  From pre-call planning to closing to future connections and sales calls, there are hundreds of dysfunctional moments.  Whether it’s your fault or not, people selling to people will always involve some form of dysfunction.  That’s why they hire us.  They need professional salespeople who can meet customers face to face and work through the dysfunction.

Join me right back here next week and we will discuss how to work through those dysfunctions!

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