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R.I.D.E. to Sales Success!

I had another one of those experiences last week. You know the ones, you’re involved in a sales experience and while in the middle of the “sale,” you mentally leave and begin critiquing the salesperson. I won’t go into who the company or the actual sales person was, but please understand that this was a high placed regional person on the company’s sales team. Doesn’t happen to you? Well, it happens to me all the time. The curse of the sales instructor, perhaps.
After some chitchat, the salesperson began with a great question: “What problems are you currently having with your _____ (Remember, we’re staying anonymous, here)?” The prospect answered the question directly and rather simplistically. Then, out of the blue, our salesperson had the answer. “Well, you need this and this,” she said. The prospect resisted, the salesperson pressed on. Eventually nothing was sold. From what I observed, an opportunity was lost.
Sales is a process, not an event. Like any good process, there is an effective way to go about it and, what we’ll call, a less effective way. To me, it’s simple: given the choice, people would prefer to buy from someone they know, like and trust. Granted, I might walk into a store knowing exactly what I want and don’t need to be sold anything. Just the same, even that experience can be enhanced by dealing with someone pleasant and trustworthy. 
Having said that, there are sales which lend themselves to relationship building and some that do not. Either way, if sales people would follow an easy process, they could R.I.D.E. their way to success. RIDE: Rapport, Inquiry, Demonstration, Evaluation.

By the way, I know that there are some people who are “natural born salespeople.” All that really means, however, is that the process is easier for them; they tend to go through the steps because they are the natural way to sell: the natural way to communicate.

In a nutshell: R.I.D.E.

Rapport. If you think it’s important or beneficial in sales for people to know, like and trust us, then you’ll have to build rapport. Yack with them a little. If you’re friends, then catch up a bit. If not, maybe you can get to know each other. Rapport will get you to LIKE, and you can’t get to TRUST without going through LIKE.

Inquiry. Once comfortable, a good salesperson needs to know what their customer wants. You can’t be the answer to someone’s prayers until you know what they’re praying for. So ask questions. The question in the scenario above wasn’t bad, “What problems are you currently having with your _____?” The problem our salesperson had in that case was grabbing the answer and trying to close off it.

The key to a successful inquiry is probing. Get beyond the initial answer to the real emotional basis of the want or need. Clarify with questions like “What do you mean? Why is that? What else?” The deeper you go, the deeper the rewards at the end of the sales encounter. 

Demonstrate. Once you have a clear picture of the customer’s wants/needs, you are able to show what you have that will meet those needs. This is, basically, your presentation. I am a firm believer that you must know your stuff for your demonstration to lead to a sale. If you know your stuff: inside/out, upside/down, top to bottom, you will be able to get your customer to see the benefit of what your have for them (you’ll also be better at tying the Inquiry to the Demonstration to be sure that what your showing fits their wants/needs).

If you nail the Inquiry and the Demonstration, all that’s left is the purchase. I’m calling this…

Evaluation.  Many sales trainers and gurus call this the CLOSE. I prefer to evaluate our situation. There are some things that may need to happen prior to the “closing” of the customer. They may have more questions, they may have objections, they may not be comfortable, they may not care. Essentially, before we get the sale, we may need to Negotiate, Validate, and Demonstrate yet again. The hope is that the customer sees the value and is comfortable with both you and what you’re selling.

In any sales scenario, these steps cannot be rushed. Look into any situation where the sale was not made and it can usually be traced to rushing the Rapport building and the Inquiry.

Jazz great Fats Waller once wrote, “Find out what they like and how they like it, and give it to them just that way.” These words, from the Musical “Ain’t Misbehavin'” are the foundation of a great presentation. They represent Inquiry and Demonstration.

The steps, the R.I.D.E., is a natural, easy approach to creating a consumer oriented, benefit based sales approach. You’ll find most people become more comfortable with you as well as your product (and in his book, What Clients Love, Harry Beckwith surmised that more than anything, people want to be comfortable).

If this seems overly simple, then good! Frankly customer oriented sales should be simple: like a R.I.D.E. in the park.

1 thought on “R.I.D.E. to Sales Success!”

  1. Rich – Great post. I think the "building rapport" step is so important, not just for the pending sale but the lifetime of referral opportunities which could await. I might even suggest a follow up acronym for you – R.I.D.E with P.R.I.D.E where the second word stands for Passion Really Is Desired by Everyone. If you go into each encounter with passion for what you're providing people and a purpose to help them, you'll find that rapport, inquiry, demonstration and evaluation will be a cinch.Keep up the great insights.

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