Once of the most fundamental aspects of success—in life, in business, or anywhere in between—is the ability to focus. With a laser-like focus on the individual tasks that lead to an objective, you can accomplish just about anything. Steve Jobs often said that his monumental success in building the world’s most valuable company and becoming a multi-billionaire in the process was his unrelenting sense of focus.
This is particularly important in sales, and critically important in equipment sales. The ability to focus on the customer and their specific problems is the first step. External concerns and distractions that ultimately evolve into potentially transaction-destroying objections must be eliminated early in the sales process. Every iota of energy and ounce of resources should focus strictly on closing the transaction at hand.
This isn’t as easy as it sounds because there are so many external concerns and distractions for customers to worry about. It’s easy to get caught up in the constant cacophony of the 24-hour news cycle, and to focus on the next potential problem coming down the pike. And on any given day at any given time, there are a lot of these potential problems.
For example, there’s a presidential election looming in a couple of months. There is uncertainty about whether we’re in a bona fide economic recovery or not. As we ease into 2013, the tax laws are changing (again). Unemployment is slightly up and then it’s slightly down. The list of things that we can worry about if we choose to is endless and getting longer everyday.
From your own perspective, it certainly doesn’t hurt to understand these issues and to be familiar with them. Understanding what’s going around you and considering the potential future impact on you and your business is an important part of life, as is your overall worldview. But unless you work for a cable news company, or make your living as a reporter, it clearly shouldn’t be your focus. And more to the point, it shouldn’t be the focus of your customers either.
And as unlikely as it might sound, you and your sales team are responsible for keeping your customers focused. When it comes to selling equipment, the effectiveness of your sales process plays a big role in how well your customers zero in on the principal issue—are they going to buy equipment from you or not. Once you’re involved in a sales discussion, the election, the economy, the unemployment rate, the inflation rate, changes to the tax code, and anything else that a prospect can think of makes no difference whatsoever.
A customer who delays making a decision for any of these reasons is either stalling or hasn’t made a decision to buy, because none of these issues have any impact on the underlying issue—the customer’s business problem and the ability of your equipment or software to solve it.
These are really the only things that matter in sales. Once you get to the point where a problem has been identified and a solution has been defined, the goal line is in site. Only two major questions remain. First, does your solution solve the buyer’s problem? Second, can the customer pay for it? If the answer to both questions is yes—as it should be by this point in your sales cycle—there is no reason why the transaction shouldn’t occur.
With this is mind, focusing your sales efforts becomes a little bit easier. It’s essentially a two-part process—identifying the solution and then financing it. Of course there will be several steps in each component. But if you focus on these two areas, your sales will undoubtedly increase.
Creating a solution that works is a combination of identifying problems and needs by asking good questions, and then mapping that information back to the features and benefits of your equipment. Good communication skills are required to make sure your prospect understands what you are proposing, but if you sell for a living, good communication skills are a prerequisite.
Once the solution has been proposed and the buyer agrees that it will work, you now focus on the financing. Many sales people stop after the first part when the customer agrees that the solution might work, assuming that everything will fall into place. That’s a big mistake because even if the customer wants the solution, payment can often become an insurmountable obstacle. On the other hand, if you are able to seamlessly offer a viable financing option—or better yet, options—the transaction has a much higher probability of closing. The fact of the matter is that turnkey financing can and will close many transactions that would otherwise be lost.
Like just about anything else, successful equipment sales is about focus. Focus on creating a solution that adds value and solves a problem. Then focus on showing the customer how to pay for it. With these two singular things in mind, the sales process becomes a lot less confusing, and success becomes much more realistic.