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Sales Process: Must Have

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<h2><span style=”color: #2266a3;”>Sales Process: Must Have</span></h2>
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It always surprises me when talking to business owners and sales leaders to learn that they have not created a standardized process for their sales teams to follow when trying to convert a prospect into a client. Are well constructed homes built without blueprints? No, because experience has shown that it’s far more efficient, economical and results in better built homes if the framers start banging nails with a plan to follow.

Yet large and small companies are equally guilty of trusting sales of their products or services to the individual preferences of their sales members. We like individualism, but in some cases consistent conformity to a proven process by all involved trumps the benefits of individualism. Why trust one of the most important aspects of your business to the individual preferences and whims of your sales team?

In speaking with these owners it’s apparent that they have never thought about developing a sales process. So, the purpose of this E-zine is to encourage the development and use of a sales process that is unique to your business.

<strong>What is a Sales Process?</strong> Like any process, a sales process identifies the step-by-step tasks to follow to achieve a desired outcome, in this case converting prospects into clients. Therefore, a sales process defines what steps must be followed in moving prospects through your sales pipeline.

For example, I have seen a sales process that involves 13 steps starting with the initial contact and culminating with the prospect becoming a client. The eleven steps in between are designed to enable the sales member to build rapport with the prospect as well as to advance the effort to the next step. Noted sales trainer Tom Hopkins says that “people buy on emotion and justify on logic”. Therefore, the better you are able to build rapport with the prospect and learn their challenges, the easier it will be to make the sale. The number of steps within a sales process will vary by company and industry, as does the sales cycle. By following a process that has been proven to be successful, you greatly reduce the possibility of a “no sale”.

<strong>Establish Timing:</strong> In addition to identifying the individual steps, you should establish the effective timing for each sequential task. Often the next step follows some action taken by the prospect, e.g. returning a questionnaire. Failing to follow a well designed sales process can often result in a lost sale. This is one of the advantages of a turnkey or franchise model. Entire processes, including sales, have been built and continually updated to reflect best practices.

<strong>Why Is a Sales Process So Important?</strong> There are many reasons but several of the more important include:

•   Increasing, often significantly, the likelihood of converting leads into sales. Effective sales processes are built on best practices used by your sales team, leveraging the process used by the best sales people for the benefit of all sales team members.

•   Establishing a step-by-step process that sales people consistently follow positively supports your brand…thus enabling prospects to associate organization and professionalism to your brand

•   Tracking prospects location in the sales process allows you to identify those steps where prospects are dropping out (i.e. they are no longer prospects). This enables you to pinpoint and analyze the causes of the failure, and make the necessary corrections to ensure more prospects become clients.

<strong>How Do You Build a Sales Process?</strong> Start by asking your most successful sales people what steps they follow in finding and converting prospects to clients. If you are the sales team, build your process based upon what has worked in the past and balanced between building rapport and moving the sale along. I have worked with clients who become solely focused on building rapport with their prospects, thus unnecessarily lengthening their entire sales cycle.

Whether you have a sales team or you solely fulfill that function, you may want input from several Raving Fan clients who are very interested in seeing your business succeed.

Do not underestimate the importance of building your sales process. Don’t let potential large sales drop out of your pipeline because of a mistake that wouldn’t have happened had you devoted forethought to designing a well thought-out process. Also keep in mind that a sales process does no good if you and your sales team don’t follow it with 100% consistency.

I coach owners on proven strategies that help them grow their business by overcoming challenges and obstacles that impede growth. Find out more at <a href=”http://actioncoachatlanta.com//”>www.actioncoachatlanta.com</a>

<strong>Business Tip: Sample Sales Process</strong>

The following is a possible sales process that might work well for B2B non retail transactions. By customizing to the specifics of your product(s) or services(s) you add more value to your sales team members.

Step 1:  Prospect – Make initial contact with suspect to assess interest and to schedule initial appointment.

Step 2:  Follow-up – If an appointment is scheduled, within 24 hours of initial contact send an e-mail to prospect with brief information about you and your company.

Step 3:  Research – Search for information about the company that will be useful on your appointment.

Step 4:  Conduct initial appointment – Rely on research conducted prior to meeting to ask thought provoking questions about their needs and their current challenges.

Step 5: Immediately after appointment – On the same day as the meeting, send prospect handwritten note expressing appreciating for the time and their ideas and suggestions.

Step 6:  Solutions meeting – Reaffirm your understanding of their needs and present your solution. Close the sale, if possible.

Step 7: Sign a new customer – Get client to sign necessary documents and lay-out implementation process

<strong>Sales Process Insight</strong>

“There should be no reason our familiar principles of quality and process engineering would not work in the sales process”  (Joseph Juran, quality expert).

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