When I first started life as a professional sales person, I wasn’t that good!

Some might say I am still not that good!!

I stumbled around trying to find my way and had limited success. Although I had most of the pieces of the sales process in my arsenal, my sales calls lacked structure and focus. I didn’t have a system. I was primarily self-taught, so I suppose that was hardly surprising.

In 1990, I changed jobs and my new employer put me on a training course that changed the way I sold to this day. The fact that twenty-seven years later, I still remember the system, is testimony to the effectiveness of this process.

Most people starting out in sales are unsuccessful for one or two reasons, either they don’t work hard enough or they lack a system or process. The system I learned twenty-seven years ago, was instrumental in giving me that focus and will almost certainly ensure greater success for you.

The APPCOM System

Whether on the phone, face to face or social selling, the APPCOM cycle is as relevant today as it was all those years ago.

A – Acceptance

The first few seconds of any sales call or meeting are vital.

A Forbes article suggests that we make major decisions about each other in the first seven seconds we meet. Therefore, it is vital that we ensure that the person we are meeting gets the right impression.

Are we trustworthy, likeable, someone they can do business with?

Prepare beforehand, ensure that your opening comments should not be canned, and instead engage in a short discussion that will succeed in “breaking the ice”.

P – Purpose

Probably the most important part of the call or meeting, is to know why you are there.

It is vital at this point that you are direct and make them aware of exactly why you wanted to meet.

Something like “I want to discuss your requirements for our consultancy services and if I can satisfy your needs, I will be asking you for your business at the end of the meeting”.

PMO (Primary Meeting Objective)

Before the meeting you must set out your primary objective.

What do you want the customer to agree to? Signing the contract?  Introduce you to someone else?

What is the main action item that you want as a result of the meeting and write it down before entering the meeting.

SMO (Secondary Meeting Objective)

What is the minimum acceptable objective?

Perhaps agree to another meeting. Again, write it down prior to entering the meeting.

P – Probing

In order to define a need or a requirement a sales person needs to probe to find out more about the business or organization.

These are questions about their business, the organisation structure, what is working, what is not, what are the pain points?

It needs to be a mix of “open questions” and “closed questions” which allows you to fully explore all opportunities.

Before advancing onto the next stage in the process, it is vital that you find an approach or connection that will allow you to present your solution.

C- Consulting

This is your moment to present your organization and solution, so the outcome from your probing questions are key to the entire cycle.

You need to be clear about the most important points you will want to cover in the presentation – what are they?

What are the areas that you want to highlight that solve some of the pain points of the organization?

Every customer is different and their requirements are different so your presentation should differ customer to customer.

O – Overcoming Objections

It is inevitable that there will be objections and you should welcome them.

Do not take them personally. It’s an indication that the buyer is engaged and is thinking about your proposition.

Four really good steps for overcoming objections are:

  1. Listen Fully to the Objection
  2. Understand the Objection Completely
  3. Respond Properly
  4. Confirm You’ve Satisfied the Objection

M – Motivating to Act

Remember the PMO and SMO from the purpose stage – This is where you determine if you have achieved your primary or secondary objectives.

What is it that you want to ask the customer to commit to?

If your primary objective was to obtain the business and you have overcome all their objections, make sure to ask for the business.

Following the APPCOM cycle will provide so much structure and focus to your sales meetings – and the really cool thing is that it doesn’t just apply to sales meetings.

Whether you are meeting with your Operations, HR, Finance department or even on your first date, use the APPCOM cycle!!

Happy Selling!!

John McGlinchey - CompTIAJohn McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Executive Vice President of Global Certification for CompTIA