Written By: Scott Koepf, Vice President of Strategic Development – Cruise Planners
Stephen Sondheim, one of the most prolific Broadway composers and lyricists, wrote the song you see as the title of this article. If you are a real Broadway aficionado you also know that it is the title of a show that is a review of his music. As I continue to refer to classic Broadway tunes to make points about our business, I think this song fits the bill perfectly.
All sales transactions follow a process that indeed goes step by step. The song refers to building a relationship which is exactly what sales really is. Indeed, a strong long term customer relationship is what you should try to “put together” not a sale! It may seem odd to write an article on sales that does not focus on closing a transaction but in this business the real money comes from loyal customers who come to you often. Therefore, that needs to be your goal, not just selling the next trip.
Interestingly, the step by step process is the same whether you are building a relationship or trying to make a quick sale. The difference is which steps you spend the most time on and what you establish as your ultimate goal. There are as many descriptions of the sales process as there are books on sales. Each has its own list and descriptions. Some have six steps, some eight, some twelve steps… or maybe that is a different program. In any case, they all tend to be basically the same, so don’t get hung up on the number or the descriptions. For purposes of this conversation here are some steps that typically make up the “steps.”
Step by Step process – Simply Sales with Scott
- The Greeting
- Overcoming Objections
- Closing the Sale
The important thing at this point, so I can tie in Sondheim’s song, is that sales is a process that is done one step at a time. It should not be rushed through so as to “get the money” or “make the close” but each step should build on the previous one with no time limitation. Remember you are not going to quantify your time based on the value of what is sold this time but on the value of a lifetime client, so don’t be in a hurry. We should enter into each customer engagement not with the focus on “show me the money” but on maximizing the intent of each step. In other words the ultimate goal for each step in the process is to completely fulfill the objective of that step and then just move to the next step. Moving rapid fire through the process may achieve the sale if you are quite skilled but it will rarely result in long term customers who will provide repeat business and referrals.
Now while these steps are generally in order your customers are not going to read this and follow a perfect script. With no shame they will skip steps but the key is for you to know where to bring them back to. In other words, if a client walks in, says hello and then announces, “I am thinking about taking a cruise but I get seasick.” You cannot look at him and say “I am sorry sir that is number 6 and we cannot go there yet.” Not only will you lose the sale, the client will spread the word that you have lost your mind. So be flexible, go where you need to but always go back to the step that has not been finished.
The sign of a great salesperson is the same as a great actor who can adapt to the circumstances of the moment yet still remain in the process (the steps or the show). That ability comes shining through on the recorded version of the review “Puttin’ It Together” staring Carol Burnett. The show is well done and very professional but the most memorable moment occurs when the unexpected occurs. In the middle of a live number Carol Burnett’s skirt just comes off! As you can imagine, (unless you are too young to know who she is in which case I really don’t like you anyway), the way in which Carol Burnett handles this situation is unforgettable. So it is in sales, while there is somewhat of a script, it is how you handle the diversions, distractions and objections that will make you a true professional. It is also what makes the “sales show” so fun and exciting!
Puttin’ It Together! – Simply Sales with Scott
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