A Sales Process is composed of the steps you take internally to manage your sales effort. It’s distinct from methodology because a sales process is focused internally. It’s the nuts, bolts, metrics and discipline you construct in and around your sales team that will drive:
- Effectiveness: Your ability to be organized and ensure the steps to win in each and every deal you pursue. So, effectiveness drives your top line.
- Efficiency: Your ability to measure and maximize a return on investment at each stage of your sales process. Efficiency then, tends to determine your bottom line.
Which would you rather have? The answer, of course, is “Yes“.
Top-level steps in a typical sales process.
Organizing: Means getting ready to sell. Meaning simple things like making a list of prospects. Setting up a system for touching leads and suspects on a consistent basis. Having a sales training program in place for new hires and ongoing development. Having measurements at each stage so you know where you’re doing well or need to focus. Also, it includes personal organization skills for sales professionals. Having individual strategic and tactical plans down to a daily objectives for actions and behaviors that will help them succeed at they job. If I’m organized, I stand a much better chance at beating a numbers game, at avoiding missteps that could risk a deal or drop a lead, or simply keep my time productive and not wasted.
Prospecting: The biggest challenge for most professional sales people is building and maintaining a pipeline. That means systematically working a lead base from a “suspect” (someone who could possibly buy from you) to a “prospect” (someone who is qualified and intending to buy something from someone) to a closed deal. Managing a pipeline may mean personal lead development or it may mean intelligently managing somewhat qualified leads developed by someone else, but ultimately it means consistent growth and progression through the sales process leading to a closed sales.
Qualification: For a new or untrained sales person, the achilles heel can often be poor qualification. When I spend my time on suspect or prospects who are not likely to buy from my, that means others who will are not getting proper attention and – even worse – people I haven’t met yet don’t know about me. Part of a balanced personal sales strategy is being a ruthless qualifier: Having the courage to walk away from someone who is not going to buy – perhaps afraid of making my pipeline look skinny. A solid qualification checklist, consistently used, is a critical part of any sales process and helps instill confidence in a forecast.
Solution: This is a part of the sales game that separates professionals from amateurs. A sales professional knows that her/his role is to listen to a prospect, to understand how they can help, and construct an overall proposal that best meets to prospects need. You’ve heard of “solutions selling” and this is it: Understanding before making a pitch. You may think this is fine for a mega-deal, but won’t work for transactional sellers. Actually, transactional sellers (someone perhaps closing a deal over the phone on a first call) benefit as much from solution selling as someone selling multi-million dollar deals. The time frame is compressed, but the concept – and effectiveness – is exactly the same.
Presenting: Now that you know exactly what the prospect wants you can build a proposal and present a real, valuable solution based on your products/services. Your presentation should include information and persuasive elements particular to your business type, and also plant traps and blocks to throw off potential competitors. It may be a PowerPoint or multimedia event, it may be an RFP cut meeting, or it may be a calm conversation over coffee, but here is where you show your prospect how they will benefit and how their problems will go away – and prove it.
Closing: Much is made – and feared – about closing deals. The fear comes from not knowing how it’s done. You can read about dozens of closing tactics, tricks and techniques, but in modern sales, closing is done on the first call and during every interaction you have with a prospect. When you’ve done this, the final “close” comes as naturally is saying hello to a friend.
Servicing: For the same reason that a “close” happens in a first interaction and every interaction during a sales process, your company is still closing a deal for the life of a new client. You likely have an opportunity to increase volumes, upgrade, replace, maintain, service or add to your initial sale and the sales process continues. Think about the last deal you closed and how happy everyone was – the new client as well as you. That’s the feeling you want to have 2 years down the road when you sign yet another new contract.
So the point is…
I’ve spent years crawling through the details on how a sales process works and how to measure it.
If you don’t have an effective sales process, at best you won’t reach your potential. We can look at how you’re selling today and very quickly pinpoint where to strengthen your sales process and the ROI of doing it. By using standards and targets we can find gaps and opportunities to fix your sales process on the fly – and we’re flying right beside you.