What is A Sales Process?
A sales process consists of every step the members of your sales team needs to take in order to close a new customer. It includes lead generation and prospecting, initial contact, upkeep and management of the customer relationship, and other steps. These are specific actions taken by sales employees to move a client through the buyer’s journey, from the discovery of the lead to the closed deal.
Sales managers need to build a process that is efficient, organized, effective, and specific to your particular product or service and customer. This article will explain how to do it.
Steps to Building a Sales Process
Step 1: Prospecting
Prospecting refers to the process of sourcing new potential leads. It’s a vital part of the selling process, as it is where your new customers come from—people or companies that could become customers for life.
Prospecting is something that all your sales reps should be doing, either on a daily or weekly basis. You always need new leads, so make prospecting part of every team member’s scheduled routine. Methods for prospecting leads include online research, social media, attending conferences and events, and asking current clients for referrals—especially if you can offer some incentive, such as a discount, to the referring customer and/or the person they send your way.
Step 2: Connecting
The second step is to connect, and reach out to your lead. But connecting is more than just that initial outreach and follow-up. During this step, you are asking questions to figure out if this person and/or their company is a good fit as a potential customer.
Ask questions that will help you understand where your product or service might fit in to their needs. It might not—but this connection step is where you find that out.
Step 3: Researching
This step is where you learn more about your prospects. Now, there is certainly research you would have had to do during the prospecting phase, to have made this company a lead to begin with. You should be prepared before you make the first connection. But after you do, and you’ve had that initial conversation that shows mutual interest, it’s time to dive deeper to gather as much information as you can that might help you close the deal to move them along the buying process.
This research phase enables you to garner information that helps you better tailor your approach, increasing your chance of closing a deal. For example, you might speak to other people at the company besides your main contact person. You might try to learn more about the company’s culture. You might try to chat with reps from various departments, getting a broader understanding of their business. By doing this you could, potentially, discover all-new problems your product or service could solve that you hadn’t even thought of previously.
Any time you speak to anyone, whether it’s over the phone, email or some other method, make sure your sales methodology involves ensuring you value each client’s time. Keep things friendly, but relevant and helpful.
Step 4: Presenting
The sales presentation step is the most time-consuming part of the process. It involves creating a formal PowerPoint or other presentation that demonstrates what you are selling and why it’s a good fit for the client. While you can certainly use a template for a boilerplate version of this presentation, you’ll need to customize it by incorporating information you gathered during the research phase and previous steps in the sales funnel.
Use your notes from those steps to tailor the presentation to the specific needs of the client. If you can connect you product or service with something they expressed a need for, be sure to include it.
This presentation may need to include more people than just the salesperson and the prospect. Depending on the product or service, you may want to include members of other departments at your or the client’s company. Sometimes this is helpful for giving a fuller understanding of how you might be able to work together. For example, if you’re a technology company, it may make sense to include your Lead Developer to answer any technical questions.
Step 5: Closing
For many sales professionals, closing is the most fun part of the sales cycle. This is the time when the sale is finalized. And as much as closing is the goal, it shouldn’t be rushed. You want to have a tight, efficient sales cycle, but not at the expense of missing opportunities by pushing too much for a hard sell.
If a hard sell is necessary, you may not be trying to sell to your ideal customer. This is because the close should be mutually-beneficial as you are solving a problem for your client.
When closing, always deliver a quote or proposal for what will be provided, when, and for how much money. This is where you guide the decision-making process by negotiating on terms until both parties are happy with the result. Once you achieve the approval of the decision maker at the company, you’re just a handshake and a few signatures away from making it official!
Success in sales is all about building relationships and solving problems, so your structured sales process should put these principles at the forefront. You’re finding people with problems that your product or service can solve, and then are developing a relationship with them to show you how your solution will work. It can help to create a sales process flow chart that will assist with training your employees on how to go through the steps.
Using a CRM, or Customer Relationship Management system, is a great way to keep your process organized as sales people move through the funnel with clients. Pipedrive CRM is a great option, but there are many great CRM products out there to make things easier at each of the sales process steps.
At the end of the sales process when the deal has closed, everyone has benefitted. Better yet, you have a new client that can turn into a long-term repeat customer if you maintain the relationship and deliver great ongoing service for every client.