Sales in Spain.
Do you own a business in spain? Are you actually selling or just reacting to enquiries?
I ́ve had quite a few experiences with sales teams in Spain recently; the average result is well, average. I spoke to two different sectors last week; A Cross fit gym in Torrevieja and a BMW garage about why they struggle with sales. They both said the same thing in different words- “it’s different for our industry, it’s not like selling XYZ”. Everyone thinks their industry is different. After 15 years of selling spanish property I understand sales are difficult. We did sell 365 million euro worth of property in these years yet every day was a battle with a salesperson who found it easier to tell me why they could not chase up a client rather than just do it. The amount of times I was told at sales meetings “Its different for us, it’s not like selling….”
First thing- You should be selling the best product on the market. For the sake of this post, I’ll assume your particular business is the best dealership/ gym/ estate agent in Spain! At the very least you must believe your customer is better off using your product or service. If that is the case, and they have the money, there is no reason for them not to buy. The rest is up to the sales team. Oh, by the way, everyone in the team is a salesperson!
What’s a Pipeline?
The administrators in any organisation really get upset by all the salesy terms like pipeline, funnel etc. This was one my team hated!
A sales pipeline is just a process, a series of activities from the initial contact with a client to closing the deal. I went on the Crossfit gym website, (stage 1) they offered me a free class (stage 2); I attended the introductory class (stage 3) they should have followed up with me “how was your class, did you like the instructor, are you coming back tomorrow” etc (stage 4)- finally the close. They must get me to sign up for a month or a year. Get some money from me- I was there to be closed. That is a pipeline. It’s the only way I know of to track the progress of the deal. They didn’t do it, I wasn’t motivated enough to go back and my enthusiasm fizzled out. Everyone lost.
I know people are reading this say “it’s not like that in our industry” Well, almost certainly, it is.
How many deals are your sales team currently working on? How many people are thinking of buying a BMW soon? How many do you expect to close within a reasonable amount of time? Picture the deals traveling along a conveyor belt a predefined path from the initial email to contact with the salesperson to closing. With BMW that might look like:
- Initial enquiry from me.
- Email from them to me thanking me for my interest
- 2nd email from them getting more specific.
- Setting a date with a salesman. This is the key here- don’t try to sell me a car on email. Sell me a test drive!
- Following up to ensure I do it.
- Get feedback after the sales meeting. “How did it go, did you like the new shape…”
- Follow up with more offers. (especially if they can see I’m qualified and we are a match)
- Set another meeting if necessary. Never (ever) wait for me to call them back.
- Sell it to me.
- Upsell me a BMW insurance policy or even Bmw finance.
- Keep in contact, make me feel special.
- Ask for referrals.
- Stay in touch and on it goes….
Stages of the Pipeline
Let’s look at a business I know well; Spanish Real Estate company. The best sales processes or pipeline match the journey your buyers go on from research (they see your ad on Kyero and get in touch), to evaluation (should they buy from you or the competitor who never calls them back?) to decision making (is buying a home in Spain the right thing for me and if so, will I deal with this sales company?).
The fundamentals of sales remain constant. Sure, every single business in Spain will have a unique sales process yet the fundamentals of buying and selling are the same, more or less.
Step 1.: Prospecting
The very first step in any sales process is to find clients. Who are the people worth selling to. Do you have an IPC- Ideal Customer Profile? Ours, back in Comaskey properties, were Carsten; 40 years old from Denmark, working for a multinational firm, married with three kids and Brian 55 years old British professional, hoping to retire soon. The ICP was built by looking at the people we had previously sold to who recommended us to their friends. It’s easy for a real estate firm to find three perfect customers and they should do it, thinking of them as they structure their ad campaigns. Brian doesn’t read the farmers journal. Carsten does use Facebook.
Once you have the list, your marketing team brings them into the sales process. Yes i know the marketing team and the sales team are often the same person! Getting the client hooked depends on how much the buyer knows about you and the problem you solve. Back in Comaskey we were offering the best value real estate in Spain. No agent was as good as us and we were not afraid to tell the clients that.
Step 2: Qualification
We wasted so much time chasing the wrong prospects back in the day.
The thing is that once the client in in the pipeline on your CRM system you must decide if its a client worth chasing. Is the client thinking of buying a home in ten years? Is she deciding between Florida and France with Spain as the third choice? She may be the nicest person in the world, but if she is not a real buyer, don’t spend unnecessary time on her. This stage of the process is referred to as qualification.
Typical qualifying questions:
Does the guy have the money to buy a home in Spain?
Is La Zenia the best place for him to buy? (if Brian should not buy a house here for any reason- tell him!)
Will he buy now or after he retires?
How urgent is the purchase? Does he want to be in a home before next summer so the grandkids can enjoy it?
WIIFM? What’s in it for me? We need to make a profit remember to pay the bills.
Do the answers to these questions match that of your ideal customer? If not, it is in your and your team’s best interest to move on and give the care to a qualified client.
Step 3: Consideration.
Now Brian is aware of your offering and he has been qualified by you or your sales team. You are a good fit and Brian can benefit from using your company. Showtime!
The client may still be starting to evaluate their various options and looking at similar companies. You as an Estate agent /cross fit instructor engages in telling the client that your service is perfect for him, the price is right, not acting (now) is not a good option. Tell him the facts. Show her the benefit of three cross fit classes per week- she needs to know she is making the right choice. Find the objectives and address them- What about Brexit, the dog is having puppies whatever it may be.
Are you the best option for Brian? Yes? It is your duty to sell your product or service to him.
Step 4; : Decision time
My favourite- you are so close. What objections does Carsten have? He knows my office is the one for him to deal with. I can solve his problems. Back in Comaskey, we provided evidence of other happy successful buyers, showed him how professional we were, let him know he can trust us by introducing him to the neighbours who were dealing with us for ten years, whatever Carsten needs.
What are the final barriers to a deal?
Does he need to get budget approval? Has he got to consult with the family first? One I often forget; Has he fully ruled out the competition? (I was so convinced that our offering was the best, I never imagine a client not buying from us! Ouch, those lost deals hurt!)
There are many reasons for late deal slippage of the deal. It’s not in anyone’s interest for the deal not to go ahead remember. You win and so does the client if a deal is done.
Step 5: Closing time.
This is the last step in the sales process. Should be simple, and just a matter of signing the paperwork, but it’s not always the case.
I remember we had a salesman who hated asking for the deposit once we “sold” a house. I asked him once whether Mrs. Smyth or whoever was going ahead. It was the perfect house for her. He said yes, she was indeed buying, deal done. I asked where the deposit was- I meant in the bank, did she pay by cheque etc. He replied that the deposit was “in her pocket”.
Mrs Smyth was Not closed!
After this stage each client is either closed or not. The only clients which enter this final vital stage are the ones who have signed a contract. They are happy to proceed and do not require any more “selling”.
I can think of 10 ways each of the businesses we talked about during this blog could streamline the typical steps in a sales process. (including my real estate firm unfortunately) Why do the typical Spanish businesses not have a sales pipeline? I get that a gym owner wants to run Crossfit classes and not chase up a 40 something guy to get him back into the sweat box, but thats is where the money is. His sales pipeline is a list of all the deals he was working on. He just groups us into stages like 1. attended a free class, 2. was a member has lapsed etc. Every business in Spain is the same! No sales, no profit.
Here are a few ideas we all could adopt to the benefit of the client and the company.
!. Always look for new people to add to the sales pipeline.
The funnel or pipeline must constantly be growing. In Comaskey we sold one house for every 100 leads. That meant if we doubled our number of leads to 200, we sold 2. The pipeline had to keep growing and so did our sales.
Any attrition, deals falling apart or closed, should prompt you to replenish the pipeline ASAP. If I don’t sign up for Cross fit, there should be someone right behind me who will.
- Follow up at regular intervals, Give the clients something of value
Nurturing deals is essential. Why are BMW not sending me info on the new season ́s electric car? They have my email address and I ́m clearly somewhat interested. This keeps me as a “warm” client. There is always some reason for the gym to contact me- Special offers, new information on intermittent fasting, proper technique for front squats, everything is relevant. Don’t sell to me, just keep in touch.
- Test, Report, Test, Report.
There are only so many hours in the day. It is imperative that any sales organisation knows where the successful leads are coming from and acts accordingly. We had hundreds of Russian real estate clients over the years- we even went to Moscow to a property exhibition there back in 2015. The problem was we couldn’t close them. We didn’t have the expertise in house. Had we seen and reviewed our sales report, realised how much energy and money was wasted not closing them, we’d have concentrated on doing the sales where the clients actually wants our service. Every gym, bank, (law office!) needs to put the bulk of their sales focus and attention on the prospects who will flow effortlessly through your sales pipeline.
Sales management is the perfect win-win. It maximises profit for a company and the client walks away with the best deal possible.
Spanish Solutions successfully help hundreds of people make the move to Spain every year and many of them are now happy business owners. If you are thinking of opening a business in Spain and would like to sit down with me, Ian Comaskey, to discuss sales and how to get some, just let us know.