In a perfect world, products and services would simply sell themselves. However, it’s a fact that no matter how in-demand your products are, you’re still going to need some sales acumen to convert prospective customers into buyers. To achieve this, you’re going to need a strong sales procedure. It simply cannot be reiterated enough how important it is to understand, define and continually develop your sales procedure over time if you want to stay one step ahead of the competition.
A lot of business leaders are naturally fantastic salespeople. After all, they’ve built up the business from scratch and tend to know their products and services like the back of their hand. In addition to this, most CEOs understand the competitive nature of the market, and how to deal with customer rejection – if only the CEO could handle all of the sales!
Of course, in the real world, this simply isn’t feasible. Instead, most companies rely on salespeople and marketing teams to generate leads and close deals. This is essentially what’s known as the sales process.
Some companies have a real handle on their sales procedure, with scripts and clarified steps designed to replicate the sales success currently enjoyed by the company. However, more often than not these steps are ambiguous, with different elements within the company having varied opinions on how to close a sale.
For example, a salesperson might swear by the idea of visiting a client, sending them a quote and then expecting an order. It might work some of the time, but it’s not concise – and finding clarity in your sales methodology could work wonders for your return on investment.
How to build a clear sales process
Constructing a reliable, repeatable and scalable sales methodology isn’t easy. While there are plenty of diagrams, expert opinions and case studies that suggest ways in which you should be doing things, you might still be lost as to where to start. If this sounds familiar, we’d like to suggest a simple sales process solution that won’t leave you feeling perplexed. Instead, it simply works.
The basics of sales methodology
The most common stages of the process include:
- Prospecting – the process of sourcing early-stage leads to connect with. This can involve online research, field visits or networking at conferences and industry events. Prospecting is one of the most vital parts of the process.
- Connecting – making contact with those “early-stage” prospects to gather additional information. By this stage, your sales team should be able to judge the likelihood of moving forward with a sale. This usually happens during a phone call or face-to-face meeting, but can also happen online.
- Researching – finding out more about each prospect will help your sales team to offer a bespoke experience. Offering a personal touch helps to improve the likelihood of sealing a deal. This can sometimes involve a salesperson speaking to different departments within a company to gain an insight into their current business objectives. In B2B sales, sales wisdom states that a good rep should be able to better understand the company than the reps who work there!
- Presenting – gaining a formal opportunity to demonstrate what your company can offer the prospective customer is the ideal opportunity to make in-roads. This part of the process can be time-consuming and should typically be used for “well-qualified” prospects – in other words, the potential customers who your team have a good chance of completing a sale with.
- Closing the sale – any late-stage activities which occur as the deal is about to close should be dealt with here. This can involve negotiating on the price of a quote, achieving the approval of decision-makers and finding out when you can deliver the goods or services required. All salespeople should be working with closing the sale in mind. After all, it’s what keeps the business going, and what pays the wages of your team.
It’s important to understand that your sales procedure is never really “complete”. It should always be a work-in-progress that allows for marketplace changes – and you should never be afraid to make adjustments.
With so many choices in today’s crowded marketplace, it’s also important for your sales team to have access to the tools they need to place the requirements of prospective buyers above their own. This means having information to hand about the product, information to hand about the customer and the ability to tailor the sales experience to the prospect. With all this in place, sales suddenly become that little bit simpler.