Hubspot: Humanizing your sales efforts

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sales efforts(This article was original published by It has been edited for content and style.)

By Allie Decker

It should go without saying that your business needs sales to succeed. However, it’s important to remember that sales alone aren’t enough. Personal selling garners better results than pushy, traditional sales efforts.

When you connect with your prospects, you’ll understand their problems and can better communicate how your offering helps them. Your customers are then more likely to see you as a partner that cares about their success, not a company that values profit over people.

Personal selling involves direct communication between a salesperson and a potential customer. This can occur in person, over email, on the phone or via video. Personal selling is most commonly used for business-to-business (B2B) selling, although it can also be used in retail and trade selling.

The Personal Selling process

The personal selling process consists of seven equally important steps. Each allows your sales team to better understand and serve your prospects and customers—ultimately leading to higher close rates and customer satisfaction.

  1. Prospecting

The first step in the personal selling process is seeking out potential customers—also known as your prospects or leads. Prospecting can be done through inbound marketing, cold calling, in-person networking or online research that includes LinkedIn and other social media.

An important part of the prospecting stage is lead qualification. Remember, personal selling is all about finding solutions for your customers. However, not everyone is fit to be a customer. By gathering as much information as possible about your prospects before hopping on a call, you’ll make the most of your time. What’s more, you’ll also demonstrate that you’ve done your research.

While lead qualification is time-consuming, it’s worth your time. Two-thirds of lost sales are due to sales reps not qualifying leads. Therefore, you must qualify your leads to avoid spending precious time and resources on prospects who have little to no chance of becoming customers—and to minimize customer churn.

  1. Pre-approach

During the pre-approach stage, your sales team should prepare to make initial contact with any leads they’ve discovered while prospecting. Pre-approach typically involves extensive online research about the prospect, the market and his or her business. This stage also includes building and practicing a sales presentation tailored to the prospect.

  1. Approach

In this stage, the sales team should make initial contact with a prospect by reaching out, introducing themselves and starting a conversation. This might happen via a phone call, video call, email or in person.

The ultimate goal of the approach stage is to better understand the prospect and know their wants, needs and problems. For this reason, your sales team should focus on asking questions in this stage to know if and how your product can solve their pain points. What you learn from those questions will help you tailor your presentation to speak to their specific needs.

  1. Presentation

In the presentation stage, your sales team shares your product or service. Throughout the presentation, your sales team should focus on how your offering benefits the prospect, using information gathered in the pre-approach and approach stages. This will ensure the presentation is relevant to the prospect and their needs.

  1. Handling objections

At this point in the personal sales process, a prospect will likely have questions and objections. It’s the job of your sales team to correct any misconceptions, handle any objections, and answer any questions—without seeming pushy or losing trust.

The purpose of this stage isn’t to change a prospect’s mind or force them to buy. On the contrary, it’s simply to learn more about how to best help the prospect reach a solution. If your prospect doesn’t reach out with any questions, encourage your team to follow up to see how they can help.

  1. Closing

After overcoming any objections and barriers to the sale, your team should try to finalize the sale—otherwise known as “closing” the deal. This stage involves settling any negotiations, payments, invoices, contracts, or paperwork to wrap up the deal.

  1. Follow-up

The final stage of the personal selling process is to follow up. Here, your sales team contacts the customer after a sale to ensure they’re having a great experience and receive effective onboarding. This stage is important because it allows your sales team to maintain customer relationships. This can secure future renewals and upgrades.

Following up also gives you insights into potential challenges and allows you to connect customers with your service team if necessary. Customer service is critical.

  • 90% of Americans use customer service as a factor in deciding whether or not to do business with a company.
  • 80% of American consumers will switch providers because of poor customer service.
  • 89% of consumers are more likely to make another purchase after a positive customer service experience.

More importantly, happy customers become brand advocates who refer you to their friends and colleagues. And not only are people 92% more likely to trust referrals, but up to 87% of marketers and sales reps agree that referrals are the strongest leads.

For that very reason, you might say that there’s an eighth step—asking for referrals. This should be part of your ongoing follow-up process. Because you want to ensure customer satisfaction before asking for a referral, it remains part of the seventh step.

Allie Decker is a content marketer and strategist. 

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