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The Sales Consult And Your Operations

Yesterday, we talked about the sales consult in relation to your brand.  Is your brand being reflected in every step you take with the client?  Today, let’s talk about the operations, or systems, of your sales consultation process.  This is far less sexy than branding.  But, also plays an important role in the client experience.

Having Your Act Together

Having a process in place for the sales consult will definitely make your life easier.  BUT – even more important – the client will notice that you have your act together.

Think about…

  • What was your last buying experience like?
  • Was the service provider professional?
  • Did they know what they were doing?
  • Were they knowledgeable and helpful?
  • Did they have strong procedures in place for working with clients, or, were they just winging it?

If you’ve worked with someone that’s clearly just ‘winging’ it, doesn’t that give you a lack of trust? Doesn’t it make you question why you would do business with that person?

When I’m thinking of hiring someone for a service I want to see that they have their act together.  And, often that means that they’re prepared, have some sort of forms or checklists or guidelines.  And, that they give me something helpful and informational to take with me.

This is where having operational procedures is VERY important.

Procedures to Consider

So, what procedures do you need to have in place for the sales consult?  It’s up to you and how you run your business.  Here are some recommendations:

The pre-consult phone call
If an inquiry emails to learn more about my business and I can tell by the tone of the email that they aren’t totally invested in what I do, I’ll recommend that we chat by phone before setting a consultation.  This helps me weed out any individuals that are just price-shopping or aren’t a good match for what it is that I do.  (For example, if someone is looking for a graphic designer vs. a tactile designer, I’d rather refer them to someone who does graphically designed wedding invites.)

This is also an opportunity to start building rapport and trust with the potential client.  I can often get them on the phone quicker than I can schedule a consult.  If I chat with them by phone we can begin our relationship before we have the chance to meet.  The hope is that I can intrigue them and give them something to look forward to.  When we meet, it’s like we’re old friends.  I already know about them and am better prepared to share with them how I can service them.

The questionnaire
The questionnaire has two purposes.  One, it helps me better understand the client before we’ve met.  By better knowing them before the consult, I can offer some advice.  (Keep the advice light and general.  You want to be paid for your heavy-hitters.)  It helps me prepare professionally.

Two, it shows the client that you have procedures in place.  You aren’t just a fly-by-night business owner.  You aren’t faking it til you make it.  They fill out the questionnaire, send it back to you, and then you wow them with your preparation at the consult.  MAGIC!

The checklist
The checklist of your process is going to help you in the back-end of your business: how you produce your goods or services.  But, on the surface, the client is going to see a wedding pro that has their act together.  They don’t even need to see the checklist.  But, knowing that you have a process to service them is going to make them feel more comfortable.

The touchstone
What does the potential client leave the meeting with?  Is there a little part of you and your business that they get to take with them?  This could be informational.  It could be a small gift.  (KEEP is small.  You don’t want them to think you are trying to buy their affection.)  If your service is very involved (wedding planning, for example), you will want to provide them with details about your services.  They’ll want something to refer back to.  If your service is creative, give them something that shows the artistry behind what you do.  Give them a touchstone that they can refer back to and that adds to their experience and augments your brand.

How about you?  What procedures do you have in place to service a potential client at the sales consult?

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April 25, 2012 - 3:30 pm

Catie Ronquillo - Just the post I needed today! I’ve started doing in-person portrait sales and having a process/procedure is HUGE. As someone who is not a natural salesperson, having an outline/step-by-step guideline is helpful, especially when it leads to exchange of money and possible objections. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m pleased with how it is going! And at the end of our time, I give them a gift voucher to give to a friend so that they can share their experience and tell a friend about it. :)

May 1, 2012 - 10:13 am

naomi - As usual you are always spot on and at the right on time. Love reading you first thing in the AM {my new habit!}

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