Making sales can sometimes feel like trying to run in quicksand. It is messy and exhausting, but at the end of the day, it is exhilarating. By implementing a sales process, a lot of that confusion and mayhem is cleared up.
A sales process gives your sales team the confidence and the wherewithal to close more deals and drive up sales. When a business finds the right sales process, it feels like cracking a hidden code that was right in front of you the entire time.
What is a Sales Process?
A sales process is a plan of action to achieve the end result of making a sale. Each step in the sales process is designed to be reproducible so it can be repeated whenever a salesperson takes on a new lead. The key to a successful sales team lies in having a strong sales process.
Any sales process follows a set of action steps, from finding leads to closing the deal. Sales processes can adjust and change to fit your business’ needs, as well as the potential client or customer.
Sales Process Steps
In general, most sales processes follow a basic outline of actions. Depending on each specific situation, each step is either strictly adhered to or avoided if deemed unnecessary. It takes a trained eye to know when one step ends and another begins.
The first step of a sales process is finding someone to sell to. By prospecting for potential customers, your salespeople are looking for those who are in the market for your product or service.
Prospecting is vital to growing and maintaining any business, as you need an influx of customers in order to operate. Prospecting can be simply reaching out to customers through advertising or keeping an ear to the ground to figure out who your next customers are.
After finding potential clients, the next step is to figure out whether or not they are suited for your business. By assessing what your prospects are looking for, you can determine who is more likely to do business with you.
You may find that your prospecting efforts turn up more leads than you initially intended, so sorting through those leads to find the best ones will save you time and money. When assessing your potential customers, the first thing to ask is whether or not they are looking for what you sell.
Research and Preparation
Once you have assessed a prospect to be the right match for your business, it is vital to understand them. Have your salespeople do research regarding the customer, such as asking questions directly and looking at whatever information is publicly available.
If dealing with a business, find out who the most essential people are. Figuring out what is most pertinent to a customer will help determine which product or service you present to them. Understanding your customer will result in a better chance of making a sale.
The presentation is the first big step in the sales process. A presentation is where your salesperson or team takes their gathered information and uses it to show the customer which product or service they need and why.
A presentation should be thoroughly planned out, and if possible, thoroughly rehearsed. Presentations are the first real opportunity to explain why your business is the right choice for your customer. A presentation should be informative and enticing, leaving the customer with a strong inclination to hire you or buy your products. However, nearly any customer will have some reservations before they close the deal.
After a presentation is made, the next step is to answer any questions the client may have. You may have their curiosity, but here is where you catch their attention. Customers want to feel assured that they are working with the right people, so expect them to offer objections.
Objections could include the price, the logistics or any other obstacles that are keeping them from making a deal. The salesperson must listen carefully to these objections and counter them directly. Skipping over any objections or questions will raise uncertainty. It is crucial to anticipate objections to keep things going smoothly.
Closing the Deal
Closing is where the salesperson and the customer reach an agreement. It may be as simple as signing a form or sharing a handshake, but the closing often involves other steps like proposals, negotiations and offering a quote before a final deal is reached. Whatever the case may be, make sure your sales team has the resources it needs to make a deal that works. Letting a deal hang in the air for too long is likely to result in a lost sale.
Closing a deal is probably the most exhilarating step of the sales process, but it is not the last. Be sure to follow up with your customer once you have made a deal to ensure their continued satisfaction. Not only will they continue working with you if they are happy, but they will also be likely to share their experience, positive or negative, with other potential customers. Keeping current customers happy is the best way to ensure longevity.
Examples of a Sales Process
Using the steps listed above, a typical sales process could look like this:
Your business gets referred to a potential customer by a current customer. Being a prospect, your next step is to determine if they are in the market for what you provide. If you find that your business is not a good match, it is best to inform them of your decision so that you do not waste any time.
If you find that your business is a good match for them, find out what is most valued to them. Using this information, you present the customer with a product, answer their questions about it, and then finally make a sale.
The whole sales process could take place in a couple of hours, or it could take weeks like this scenario:
You have a team searching for leads by reaching out to many prospects. Eventually, you find a handful of potential customers who are interested. You find out if your business can meet their needs and set a date for a presentation. During the presentation, the customer seems interested but needs to think about it. They call back with more questions and you set up another meeting. You meet back and forth and finally start negotiating towards a deal.
The sales process might not look the same, but it includes the same steps and can be repeated on however many customers it takes to reach your goals.
How to Improve the Sales Process
Any sales process will be a work in progress for some time until the kinks are ironed out. In order to make improvements, you must first analyze your current sales process to determine what should stay and what should go. If a tactic consistently holds up the process or loses customers, reexamine how that tactic can be changed or whether it should be avoided entirely.
Understanding what the buyer’s journey looks like will allow you to better understand where your customer gets hung up and when to offer an enticing deal. Keeping in mind your customer’s perspective ensures that your business does not lose focus on its goals.
In order to keep the sales process moving towards a deal, find what actions best result in customers taking the next step. Sometimes it helps to be more passive and sometimes you need to be assertive.
Finding the right places to apply pressure can help you crack the code and make more sales. Be willing to experiment with the sales process until you find the right technique and the right practices. When something works, keep it. If something does not work, move on without hesitation.
When putting a sales process into place, you need to know exactly how you will be measuring its success. It might feel great to get 20 or 30 presentations, but if the process is not resulting in sales, something needs to change. It is better to have fewer presentations but more sales, especially since presentations are time-consuming.
How to Map the Sales Process
As you move from step to step, it is crucial for your sales team to know where they stand with the customer as they continue progressing towards a sale. Take an active role in plotting out your sales process. Record the process and include as many of the small details as you can.
Lay all of the actions your salespeople take and then put them under each step to ensure a steady progression while avoiding any backtracking.
While you plot out your own sales team’s course, you must also determine the action points of the buyer and where in the sales process those actions will occur. If your customer begins talking about price but is trying to see if a negotiation can be made, your sales team needs to pick up on this and switch to the closing stage.
Still, you never want to jump the gun so it is essential that your salespeople are well familiar with the actions a customer takes during each stage. When mapping out a sales plan, use stages, templates and flowcharts for easier planning and development,
Map the sales process through its different stages: finding, selling and closing. Sometimes the particular steps might get muddled and mixed, so mapping the sales process into its core stages will allow for your salespeople to remain flexible.
Identifying the different steps of the process can be done through a flowchart, where all actions are noted. Following a flowchart is great when first implementing a new sales process, but it can be very restrictive if too heavily relied upon.
By creating a template of what actions both the buyer and seller might take during different steps of the sales process, your salespeople will have something concrete to work with. While pursuing leads, templates are a great way to stay organized and remain actively engaged.
Common Sales Process Mistakes
Finding the right sales process takes time. Experiment to find what works for your business, but there are also some things to be aware of.
Make sure that your sales process contains concrete triggers for moving on to the next stage. Leaving things too open-ended can result in indecisiveness and confusion.
Staying too close-minded will result in stagnation. To keep things moving forward, be open to experimenting with new ideas and admitting when things do not work.
Adapt to the sale as it comes up. A sales process is a great frame, but you want to make sure your salespeople can respond accordingly when things don’t quite go to plan.
Finding The Sales Process that Works for You
Creating a sales process is a daunting task. Well, at least it can seem that way. In reality, it is extremely rewarding to watch your business grow and evolve as you build a deeper understanding of how your customers think by developing a sales process.
If you need help boosting your sales numbers, contact Selling Revolution now. We cover all your sales needs, from strategy to training, making sure every step of the way that your business is prepared to prosper. A sales process can work wonders, giving your sales teams the path right to success. Book a call with us today, and find the sales process that works for you.