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The Selling Process: Is it an Art or a Science?

Ron Holm, Trainer — Max Sacks Int'l

• sales practices • expert interview • Wholesale Distribution Industry • sales management • sales management styles in distribution • sales training

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What goes into making a sale? I recently sat down with Ron Holm for a video interview in which we discussed sales training, its benefits, and some of the nuances in the selling process. Ron has been doing sales training for Max Sacks International for over twenty years and is one of the top trainers in their system. Ron will try to answer one of the big questions: is selling more of an art or a science?

"There's been a lot of research done on the question of 'Why do people buy?'," Ron said. "Empirical evidence suggests that there's a formal thought process that people go through which we we call 'buying decisions.' The art aspect involves how well the sales professional is able to adapt their process or approach to their prospects so that it lines up well with the science of those decisions."

"When a sales rep or sales team is on a call," Ron continued, "the first thing they'll do is talk about the company or they'll quickly get into the product as a solution. However, the science and psychology of selling suggests that a salesperson shouldn't be antsy because the first buying decision that a prospect makes is about the salesperson themselves. Do they trust that person's integrity and product knowledge? Are they likable? Do they feel that this is somebody they want to do business with?"

"The second buying decision involves the company and its reputation," Ron said. "The third decision involves the product and how well it meets the client's needs. The fourth is value, because customers will buy based on perceived value rather than just price. The fifth buying decision involves time to buy, the convenience in being able to make a purchase and receive the offering.

If you work backwards, you'll realize that a lot of companies can match all of these things. The pricing is often similar, they can deliver in the same timely manner, the companies both have good reputations, and there's enough commoditization that there's no clear winner between the products. So often everything else negates itself out, which leaves the salesperson as the tie-breaker."

Having spent a few years in the buying group of a large company, I can relate to this idea. Everybody could deliver the product when I wanted and the products themselves often didn't have a feature that distinguished them from the competition. While I was worried about making a mistake on price and have it come back to haunt me, it frequently came down to how well I liked the salesperson and whether I wanted to give him my business.

"We're living during the information age where there's so much research that customers can do on their own over the internet," Ron said. "At the same time, we're realizing that, in this high tech era, there's never been a greater need for high touch. Salespeople who can resonate with their prospects have a tremendous advantage which is why my company teaches this psychology of selling."

"Another important part of training is instilling a standard language and protocols" Ron explained. "Often the answer to the question, 'How close are they to closing?', can mean different things to different salespeople. However, by instilling a standard language, there's a common understanding of where people are in the sales process which makes things easier for management. This can increase the sales force's overall effectiveness and lead to greater profitability."

For more information about Ron Holm, visit: www.maxsacks.com/people/ronholm.html