All new sales people at Procter & Gamble attend a 1 week training course called NRTC, or New Rep Training Course. Lucky for me and other new hires into P&G’s Brand Management organization, the marketing people got to go to the course as well. What a wonderful training program is was. To this day, I remember many of the “Best Practices” in Selling Techniques that we were taught.
At the core of the Sales Best Practices is P&G’s “Persuasive Selling Format”, also called “The 5 Steps of Selling.” If you meet any P&G sales person in the world they will immediately be able to tell you these 5 steps. I have used this process instinctively ever since I first learned it and to great success. So, here are the 5 Steps of Selling according to P&G.
- Summarize the Situation – First, start the conversation by sharing information that gets the listener interested and that makes them receptive to what you have to say. It is best if you talk about things your customer said were important to them the last time you spoke. You can also share key facts, information or industry trends that set up the discussion.
- State the Idea – Now that you have their attention, bot beat around the bush, get right to the point and tell them a brief statement of the idea. Just provide a headline of your recommendation stated in a way that makes it compelling.
- Explain How It Works – Once you’ve clearly stated the proposition, now is the time to provide details of the recommendation. Typically this includes more information about the product, pricing, and execution of the proposal such as timing and logistics.
- Reinforce Key Benefits - Now that they understand the detail, now is the time to hit home the key reasons they should agree to move forward. P&G also calls these the “3 Reasons”. P&G says if you only have 2 reasons, it’s not enough, and if you have more than 3, then none of the 3 is powerful enough. So, we were taught to always have 3 reasons. I have found this very helpful because it is easy to try ‘win over’ the customer with a long list of why they should agree. But a prospect will only focus on the top couple issues, so it is an excellent preactice to narrow down the list to the top 3 key reasons.
- Suggest Easy Next Steps – Naturally, no sales process would be a 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 them to say yes by planning in advance to remove barriers and showing them a path to agreement that fit easily into their situation.
This process works best, of course, when you know a lot about the prospect and their situation, but that is the stuff of another P&G Best Practice, the “7 Steps of Selling”. But don’t worry, the 5 Steps and the 7 Steps are not inconsistent. Quite to the contrary, the 5 Steps fit into the 7 Steps like had and glove.
About the Author: