Some of us spend our entire lives trying to figure out that exact process which attracts prospects and coverts them to a sale. Then there are others that always seem to be at the right place at the right time. Did you ever wonder how they do that?

Consider perhaps your particular prospect’s buying process. We are all taught to develop the skill set that can uncover a buyer’s pain—and then deliver a solution. So a typical buying process looks something like this:

1. Determine need

2. Spec out product or service

3. Prepare RFP

4. Interview suppliers

5. Validate and test product or service

6. Actual purchase

7. Follow up on fulfillment of purchase order

Perhaps we should take a couple of steps back and take a different perspective. Oftentimes a prospect’s buying cycle is triggered by other activities. Take, for example, the classic example of a moving company. Their clients’ decision process begins when they have made a real estate transaction. That buyer may go through a similar process as outlined above, but the first step is what triggers the entire process.

So why not take a closer look at your product or service and think about the specific activities that trigger the “need.” If it’s a real estate transaction, there is a good chance that new incorporations, the award of a large government contract, help wanted ads for key personnel to open new offices, or a simple “space needed” classified ad represent triggers.

With every sales concept I write about I always consider Italian economist Pareto who developed the 80/20 rule. I questioned some time ago that if 20% of salespeople make up 80% of the sales, then within that 20% group does the 80/20 rule apply as well? Let’s call them the “ultimate four.” That’s the top 4% of the whole group, the sales folks making seven figures every year. In almost every selling environment, those guys have a way of taking it to the next level.

Some examples:

* The real estate guy who doesn’t use public records to locate new businesses or ones that have been incorporated. S/he finds a networking group that associates with all the top business law firms and develops relationships that deliver opportunities way before they become public knowledge.

* The person who networks with all of the commercial construction companies that specialize in internal finishing work, especially the guys with mill work. Because, while those guys are working on blueprints today, they’re for jobs that don’t happen for another 12 to 18 months. So once again, it’s about developing these relationships way ahead of the curve, so that when the client is looking for space, you’re already there.

There are some other traits that the “ultimate four” use. They don’t sell, they educate. But they educate in a way that acknowledges the buying process. In other words, they are not afraid to sit with a prospect and talk about the things they are going to look for in a vendor, and the fact that they are going to talk to a multitude of firms. Acknowledging the buyer’s decision criteria in an open and forthright manner is one of the best ways to establish credibility and connect with a prospect.

Perhaps the most important way to educate your prospect is to provide the facts and information that can help the prospect make an informed decision. We all know that the relationship is at the core of each sale. The best way I know to build a relationship and develop trust is to share knowledge and become a part of the prospect’s decision making team.

So I hope I have provided you with a couple of ideas on how you can get into your prospect’s sales process before most. Just remember, if you only get one chance to make a first impression, only one person can get to the prospect first. So get there first and share all you’ve got. Go get the deal!

Anthony Quaranta is the president of Q Group, Hauppauge, N.Y.