To better understand the structure of the sale it is useful to visualize a conceptual black box. This black box has four separate controls. It’s portable and weighs about three pounds. At the start of every sale you take it out and begin by turning control ‘1’. You continue to turn it until you get the desired reaction.

You then go to control ‘2’ and turn that until you get the second reaction, then control ‘3’ until you get the third reaction, and finally you turn control area ‘4’ and the reaction is “yes” and you win the business. That would be a great black box.

Obviously no actual black box exist but this is going to be our conceptual approach, can we regard the total time the sale takes as being composed of four separate control areas. Each one moving us one stage closer to winning the business.

Let’s look at what the black box does graphically. In the diagram above the vertical axis is the level of interest felt by our prospect in our proposal. We will assume a zero start. On the horizontal axis is the total sales time. It might be half an hour, half a day, three weeks, three months – however long the sale takes. The horizontal axis is divided into four separate sectors corresponding to our four conceptual controls.

Your job as a sales person is to take the prospects interest from an assumed zero start gradually up to a point of sale. In that gradual movement you move through the four areas.

Control ‘1’ – Intro or OHBS

Control area ‘1’ is a special control as it is only for cold presentations. If the inquiry originates from the prospect then she already has a little bit of interest and you start at control area ‘2’.

Let’s assume you are speaking with a prospect who knows little or nothing about your offering. The first sale you have to make is that she should want to talk to you and answer some of your questions. That is the objective of control area ‘1’ the OHBS or Opening Hot Button Statement. It is a general what’s in it for her statement.

Let’s look at the structure of this statement. You shouldn’t arrive with great enthusiasm and say, “We’ve got an incredible service. I know we can save/make you …”

No you don’t.

You’ve just arrived. The structure of the opening statement should be, “Mr. Prospect, we have been able to do X for other people similar to you.” That’s testimonial. That’s third-party reference. That’s good salesmanship. “I don’t know about you at this stage. Let me ask you one or two very straightforward questions. How does that sound?” Get some feedback.

A useful test as to the effectiveness of how you open is to ask yourself – “Is my prospect now happy for me to move on and ask her some questions” because that’s the objective of the opening statement.

Control ‘2’ – Find Out

You then go to control area ‘2’ and you FIND OUT. A powerful visual analogy here is to imagine you are defining a conceptual door frame on which the presentation is later going to close.

If you’re in the process of defining the door frame – what the prospect wants – and you suddenly realise that not one of your available doors is going to match. The nearest one let’s say is six centimetres proud. What do you do? You’ve got two options:

1) You could cut six centimetres off that nearest door. You could change your product or service in some way, but if that’s not possible use option two.

2) You alter the frame. People buy what they want but many people don’t know what they want because they don’t know what is available. That’s your licence to alter the frame.

To recap control area ‘2’ – you define the door frame and if required you shape, guide, and modify the door frame, the prospect’s idea of what she wants so it better matches what you have to offer. It goes without saying that you only do this with the prospect’s complete agreement.

Control ‘3’ – Match

You now go to control area ‘3’, the sales presentation itself. You MATCH what you have to offer to what the prospect wants. During that matching process you only discuss the matching benefits. You fit the door to the frame.

Control ‘4’ – Close

You then go to control area ‘4’, the close. You can learn more about closing the sale here.

The four controls approach to selling structure is taught on LDL Telesales Training and The New Professional Selling Skills – available open and bespoke.

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