Selling Records-Management Solutions

July 1, 2001

3 Min Read
Selling Records-Management Solutions

Closing the Sale

By Cary McGovern

Thisarticle discusses the most important element of the selling process: the close.All is lost if you get to the point of the close and discover the customer isn'tbuying. The sales cycle is indeed a process. Getting through that process with asale is the goal. Without it, you have wasted your time and your customer'stime. You should be confident early on in the cycle that you will close thesale.

Selling Records-Management Solutions

There is nothing mysterious about closing the sale. It should be theculmination of a series of events that ensure you will sell the customer yourservices. Nothing happens until the sale is made. To be certain of success,there must be both a method and management system within the sales cycle. Themethod should contain several steps, depending on the product or services youare selling. Selling records- management services involves a"solution-sales method" that will ensure you close sales with 75percent of your qualified prospects.

Some commercial records centers sell records storage rather than recordsmanagement. Selling storage as a commodity reduces the impact and depth of therecords-management sale. The sale becomes an event rather than a solution.Remember that records management services represent a long-term service--andsolution--to your customer. It is not like making a one-time sale of an objector finite service. Records-management companies are outsourcers that becomeresource partners to their long-term customers. After the sale, you will providea valuable administrative service that becomes an annuity to you and a resourceto them--forever.

Seven Sure Steps

There are seven identifiable and very specific steps in the solution-salesmethod. Converting a prospect into a records-management solution sale is adiligent process. If you do it right, you should know if the sale will close bythe time you have completed step three of the process. So, the close begins withstep three. Let's briefly identify the seven steps.

Step 1:
Identify Prospects and Make Initial Contact

Create the prospect list from the resources available (i.e., Yellow Pages,chambers of commerce, local business guides and the Internet). Establish rapportwith your customers and create an environment amenable to them accepting you asa preferred provider of records-management services.

Step 2:
Qualify Customer Interest

Gain an understanding of your prospects' organization, identify keydecision-makers and influencers, and develop an interest in your services byexplaining the customer-needs assessment (CNA) method. Get permission to performthe CNA.

Step 3:
Understand Customer Requirements

Conduct the CNA, analyze the data and verify it with your client. This is themost important step because it is here that you make sure all client needs aremet--especially those of the process owner and decision-maker. If there islittle or no interest after this step, you may decide to discontinue the salesprocess. You must do everything possible to get concurrence of thedecision-maker at this point if you hope to sign the agreement later in theprocess. This is critical in the sales cycle--for the customer to be inagreement with the results of the CNA.

Step 4:
Determine Client Solutions

You should not have presumed any solutions until this point. You have justuncovered the problem that causes the customer pain. Step four is for developingthe solution to alleviate the customer's pain.

Step 5:
Present Proposal and Justification

The purpose of this step is to develop and begin the implementation of a workplan, prepare the proposal documents and cost justification. The work plan formsa logical basis for presenting the proposal based on the customer's needs andstated requirements.

Step 6:
Negotiate to Close Contract

The purpose of this step is to negotiate the terms of the agreement, clarifyany issues and time frames, have the customer sign the contract and process theorder.

Step 7:

The purpose of this step is to make sure all of the customer's requirementsare met. The customer must be trained on the systems. The initial batch ofrecords is reconciled and business begins.

Nextmonth's column will focus on the "Fast-Start Sales Event: The CustomerEducational Symposium."

Regular columnist Cary McGovern, CRM, is the principal of FileMan andFIRMS (FileMan Internet Records Management Services), which offer full-servicerecords-management assistance for commercial records-storage start-ups inself-storage operations. For assistance in feasibility determination,operational implementation or marketing support, or for questions on the FIRMSSales Manager, call 877.FILEMAN, e-mail [email protected];

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