The Negotiator Magazine

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Collaborate

It is at this point after an in-depth exploration of a prospect's situation that collaborative salespeople talk about their products or services. Naturally, they are discussed in the context of prospects' needs or opportunities.

Collaborative salespeople never dictate solutions to their prospects. Instead, they form "partnerships" in which prospects play an active role in the search for the best solution. The collaborate phase of the sale is conducted in the spirit of "let's work together on the solution and together build a commitment to its successful implementation." This team-approach to problem-solving ensures that prospects will be committed to solutions. By making customers equal partners in problem-solving, collaborative selling reduces or eliminates the risk that is inherent in the customer's decision-making process.

Confirm Keep in mind that, in every phase of the collaborative selling process, the salesperson and prospect have communicated well. Collaborative salespeople move on to the next phase of the sales process only after they have received assurances that their customers are in agreement with them on everything that has been discussed.

This agree-as-you-go process eliminates the need to "close" the sale or handle objections. Most objections have surfaced long before this point. If resistance does occur, the salesperson simply gathers more information or clarifies a detail.

With collaborative selling, the sale is a matter of when and not if. Confirming the sale is the logical conclusion to an on-going communication and problem-solving process. There is no need to "close" them. People commit when all their buying criteria are met!

Assure This phase of the collaborative sales process begins immediately after the sale has been confirmed. Collaborative salespeople keep in touch after the sale. They communicate regularly about delivery dates, installation, training, and other relevant matters. They make sure their customers are satisfied with their purchases. They help customers track their results and analyze the effectiveness of the solution.

Collaborative selling is the key to differentiation on the micro level. It represents an obsession with quality and customer satisfaction. It reflects a high degree of professionalism and a primary focus on relationships rather than transactions. It is clear that collaborative selling is a mutual-win situation, one that provides increased security to both parties. This increased security is exactly what customers want and need, given the market changes that are occurring so rapidly.

Collaborative selling is a philosophy and practice that is being used today by enlightened salespeople; and it is clearly the sales process of the future. Collaborative selling helps professional salespeople build large, loyal customer bases that generate future sales, provide referrals, and act as lifetime annuities.

Dr. Tony Alessandra, CSP, CPAE has authored 13 books, recorded over 50 audio and video programs, and delivered over 2,000 keynote speeches since 1976. This article has been adapted from Dr. Alessandra's book, Charisma (Warner books, 1998. Dr. Tony Alessandra is recognized by Meetings and Conventions Magazine as... "one of America's most electrifying speakers." For information about Tony’s keynote presentations, contact the Frog Pond at 800.704.FROG(3764) or email susie@frogpond.com

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