The Hook and the Complex Sale

This week’s sales tip is particularly useful when you deal with a complex sale which generally means your sales don’t happen quickly, they can stretch out to days, weeks even months. Typically complex sales happen in business to business selling but even consumer selling is dragging on nowadays as customers labour their decisions in this down economy. Here’s a simple idea to help you.

My idea of a great holiday is relaxing on the beach with a good book. Now Claire is a little different and likes to see some of the local historical and tourist sites. Being a good husband I always try and fit in a family visit to somewhere special. So one particularly cloudy day last August in France, I arranged a visit to a nearby French Château for the day.

Having three small children, I was a tad worried about whether they’d be kept occupied for the day, so I was hoping the château had an attraction to keep them occupied. And it did. It had a treasure hunt for the kids and of course, Dad was delighted.

We picked up our instructions, conveniently printed in English, and made our way to the first treasure clue. I was in my element and Claire was too – perusing the ancient remains and admiring the uniqueness of the castle.

The point about a treasure hunt is that you have to get the clue right before you can move onto the next clue otherwise it simply doesn’t link together. Without the hook for the next clue, it just doesn’t fit together. You can continue, of course, but you won’t reach the ultimate objective and each round gets more and more frustrating.

Now how does this help when involved in a complex sale? A lot actually.

You see when you are involved in a sale that involves several meetings; each meeting needs to be treated like a treasure hunt for the ultimate goal. Each meeting needs to achieve its objectives and at the end a hook needs to be establish which will take you to the next meeting. A hook or a reason to make the next call or visit.

I’ve been working today with a bunch of telesales professionals who just happen to use the phone to make business to business sales to promote their company’ products and services. Sometimes they make dozens of calls to their customers before a sale is captured and that’s the nature of telephone B2B sales. Consumer sales are “one hits” typically but selling to businesses takes time.

We focussed on the end of the call and the need to get a hook, a benefit laden reason why you will call them next time and a firm day in the diary when you’ll be doing this.

Now agreeing to “catch up”or to “see how you’re getting on” is definitely a no-no. No I’m talking something more tangible that gives them a real reason to listen to you again.

In the hubbub of a busy office and pressures on calls and targets it’s just too easy to settle for a verbal commitment and to leave it at that. Another reason to set a hook at the end is that it makes it much easier to make the call next time as you have a good reason to do so.

So remember to set a hook at the end of every call in a complex sale and this will move you on to the ultimate goal much quicker.

How did we do in the treasure hunt at the French Château? We got l the clues right of course, but I have to say I did cheat a little. I had my Smartphone with me so I could Google the answers. Is that bad? I think so.