Procter & Gamble’s Seven Selling Steps – a ‘traditional’ approach to selling

As part of my marketing and brand management training at P&G I had to go out and sell. The training was fantastic and I was motivated to do at least as well as the sales team, even though I was straight out of college. This was the approach we were taught.

I have long argued that ‘traditional ‘selling differs from what I call ‘professional’ selling. Those of my clients in professional service firms (lawyers, accountants etc) can judge for themselves if this P&G approach is relevant to their market place…..

  1. Pre-meeting Preparation

Before meeting with the prospective customer we had to set an objective for the meeting and devise a plan to achieve our objective. If this is a new prospect:

  • How will we begin to build a relationship and establish credibility?
  • What do we know about their business situation?
  • What are the key questions we can ask to best understand how what is important to them and how we can help them?
  • What homework can we do in advance to show them that we understand their situation and can help them be successful?

If this is an existing customer, we needed to review what happened in the last sales call and build our sales call around what we learned from the last call:

  • What did the customer tell us last time?
  • What was most important to them?
  • What goals did they share with us and what objections did they have?
  • What has been successful in the past and what has prevented them from moving forward?
  • What creative ideas do we have for increasing business or overcoming prior objections?
  • Are there new market forces or competitive threats that we can leverage to encourage them to take action?

Based on this pre-call preparation we devised a well thought out approach and implemented it as follows.

  1. Summarize the Situation

First, we started the conversation by sharing information that got the listener interested and that made them receptive to what we had to say.

It was best if we talked about things our customer said were important to them the last time we spoke.

We also shared key facts, information or industry trends that helped to set up the discussion.

3. State the Idea

When we had their attention, we got right to the point and told them a brief statement of our proposition. We just provided a headline of our recommendation, stated in a way that made it compelling.

  1. Explain How It Works

Once we’d clearly stated the proposition, then it was time to provide details of the recommendation. Typically this included more information about the product, pricing and execution of the proposal such as timing and logistics.

  1. Reinforce Key Benefits

Once they understood the detail, then we presented the key reasons they should agree to move forward. P&G called these the “3 Reasons”.

P&G says if you only have 2 reasons, that’s not enough, and if you have more than 3, then that’s too many and none of the 3 reasons is potentially powerful enough. This is a helpful tip because it is tempting to try to win over the customer with a long list of why they should agree. But a prospect will only focus on the first few issues, so it is good practice to narrow down the list to the top 3 key reasons.

  1. Suggest Easy Next Steps

Naturally, no sales process would be best practice without the Close. At P&G, we were taught to move very naturally right into the close by “suggesting easy next steps”.

The emphasis was to make it easy for customers to say yes. We planned in advance to remove barriers and show customers a way forward that fitted easily into their situation.

7. Post-meeting Analysis

After every sales meeting, P&G taught us to analyse the meeting straightaway. There were four basic steps to the post call analysis:

  • overall summary,
  • what went well,
  • what could have gone better, and
  • what is the key takeaway for success in the next sales call.

The process, I hope you agree, all seems very logical. But the key aspect that I’d like to emphasize for the benefit of my lawyer and accountant clients  is the rigour of the process – particularly the preparation and post event analysis.

For more insights from P&G see what advice I was given as a new graduate upon joining the company…https://tonyreiss.com/2014/04/02/advice-from-a-mentor-at-procter-gamble/

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