Business is full of processes. It’s how we create efficiencies, measure results, and train new people joining the company.
However, it’s amazing how many people look at me blankly when I ask if they have a sales process.
Without a sales process, you’re ‘winging it’. Sure, you’ll still generate sales and close deals, but you’ll also be missing out on opportunities and have no way of assessing how effective your sales activity actually is.
And if you don’t know how well it is working, how can you improve it?
On a side note, it’s incredible how much more confident and successful people, who don’t call themselves salespeople, are when they have and follow a sales process.
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at what a sales process is and how to implement a successful one in your business.
So, What Is a Sales Process?
A sales process is basically a series of steps that you follow for each sale.
Everything is linked to it – from staff training, to how to handle customer objections and what happens after a deal is closed.
Your sales process should be your organisation’s ‘guiding light’.
An effective sales process enables you or your sales team to close more deals, increase margins, and make more sales through referrals.
Using a sales process within your company will produce:
- Predictable Outcomes – desired and predictable outcomes through a series of actions that could lead to more sales and higher margins
- Repeatable Activities – activities that should be repeated to obtain the desired outcomes again and again by any salesperson within the organisation
- Tangible Results – the outcomes that can be measured and compared
- Relevancy for Others – a good sales process can be scaled and repeated to suit other salespeople
Let’s look at the steps you should have in your sales process.
Steps in a Sales Process
Most importantly, the steps in your sales process need to be customer focused.
Their goal is to help your sales team win new customers, retain existing customers, and increase sales revenue.
The steps need to be systemised and not random. Random steps produce uncertainty and are very difficult to measure!
Instead, a well-defined process and approach to your customer means you can predict and measure sales results.
Normally, a sales process involves the following key steps:
- Prospecting – sourcing potential customers, such as referrals
- Qualifying – working out whether these potential customers have the characteristics that qualify them as a good prospect for your business
- Needs Discovery – finding out what the prospect’s needs, that your business can fulfill, are
- Proposal or Presentation – demonstrating how your products or services can meet their needs
- Handling Objections – how you answer their objections to using your products or services
- Closing – completing the sale
- Follow-up for Repeat Business – encouraging them to purchase again and asking for referrals
However, just having a sales process in place doesn’t guarantee anything. Just like how simply buying a gym membership doesn’t lead to a chiseled body.
Instead, implementing and actively using your sales process is the difference that will lead to more sales.
The Characteristics of an Effective Sales Process
An effective sales process produces sales results with the same precision a manufacturing unit produces finished products.
A manufacturing unit uses raw materials, strategy, technology, and manpower to produce finished goods.
Similarly, a sales process can be viewed as an integrated method where manpower is your salesforce, the product or service is the raw material, strategy relates to your sales plans and methods, and technology refers to the communication and sales technology you’re utilising.
In short, an effective sales process manufactures customers. You can think of it like your business’ ‘customer manufacturing system’.
The Importance of Elasticity
No two sales are the same.
Therefore, an effective sales process must have the ability to accommodate a wide range of situations. We call this elasticity.
For example, is your company prepared to meet a sudden spike in demand for your products or services?
Does your sales process have the elasticity to deal with fluctuations in customer buying trends? Does your sales process take into account changes in buyer tastes and preferences?
Effective sales processes stand the rigors of changing times and market conditions and produce the best possible results in most circumstances.
The Results-oriented Sales Process
Finally, your sales process must be results-oriented.
The obvious end result is a closed sale. However, you should have results you’re measuring at every step of the sales process.
This allows you to adjust and improve your sales process to most effectively generate closed business and therefore revenue for your company.
This starts right at the beginning of the process when you are sourcing, identifying and qualifying leads.
Below are some of the key results to look out for.
You only want to dedicate resources to prospects that truly have the potential to buy.
It’s also worthwhile assessing their potential purchasing power. After all, successful salespeople spend more time with their top revenue producing accounts.
Really understand the ‘need’ of your customer and develop customised value propositions to solve their business issue.
Look at how you can convince your potential customer that your company is the one that can take care of their ‘need’ and that no one can do it better than you.
It’s so much easier to sell to an existing customer than a new one.
According to the Personal Selling Power Magazine, it costs five to eight times more to acquire a new customer than selling to an existing customer.
So, explore how you can upsell to or get repeat business out of your existing customers.
This can be achieved by ensuring you’ve got happy customers and do proper follow-ups as part of your sales process.
A great way to encourage repeat business is to use your sales staff to build stronger relationships with your customers.
Without a sales process to underpin your sales activity you’re wasting your time (literally!).
While you can still close deals and make money without a sales process, you’ll spend more time, close fewer sales, make less money, and miss out on valuable opportunities compared to if you had one.
An effective sales process is one that is implemented and actively used in your business, it is consistent and elastic, and is result-oriented at every step.
If you’d like to discuss how you can supercharge your company’s sales by putting in place an effective sales process get in touch with me or the team at firstname.lastname@example.org