Jessie Schultz

Roadmap to Excellent Sales Performance

Understanding Sales Processes – The Roadmap to Excellent Sales Performance

Embracing a defined process of doing things streamlines the completion of tasks. This is manifested when businesses implement sales processes, which can improve employee performance and ensure higher revenue. You want your employees to be accurate in their roles and ensure smooth interactions with customers.

A sales process will also benefit the sales department. It allows you to boost your business’ conversions and close more deals. However, many people find building a sales funnel a challenging task because every target audience, business, and sales team is unique, so you may not have much success copying what another business is doing. If you’re wondering what’s the secret then, here are some guidelines to help you get started building a sales process that will elevate your business.

What’s a Sales Process?

A sales process refers to a series of steps that a sales team takes to pick a prospective buyer from the first stage to a closed sale. Typically, the process includes 5 to 7 steps, each taking the customer through a journey that eventually transitions them into making an actual purchase. And since this is a journey, it’s often called the roadmap for every salesperson.

While many businesses use sales processes, they often don’t standardize them, which gives sales reps the liberty to apply the logic as they see fit as long as they close sales and bring revenues, which is the primary objective of having a sales process in the first place. But if you’re not a natural salesperson, a standardized sales process may come in handy as it improves forecasting, measuring, and general management of sales.

The 7-Step Sales Process

These are the seven steps you need to achieve good results closing sales and retaining clients in your sales process.

1. Prospecting

On the first step, you have prospecting, which involves finding potential customers and determining if they need our service or product. You also analyze whether they can afford the price you offer. This process is known as qualifying, which filters your audience to ensure the perfect targeting.

2. Preparation

The second step is preparation. You need to prepare before you make initial contact with potential customers. Research the market and gather relevant information about the service or product and what the target market needs. With this information, you should develop a sales presentation tailored to potential clients.

3. Approach

With prospecting and preparation complete, you then approach the potential client. In this stage, you should make the first contact, sometimes over the phone or through a face-to-face meeting. In this case, you have a few approach methods, including:

• Question approach – asking the potential client a question to get them interested.

• Premium approach – presenting a gift to your potential client during your initial interaction.

• Product approach – offering the prospect a free trial or sample to evaluate and review your service.

4. Presentation

The fourth stage of the sales process is presentation. In this phase, you actively demonstrate how your product meets your potential customer’s needs. You may need tools such as PowerPoint to give a spiel, but you could also choose to first listen to your customer’s needs then respond accordingly.

5. Dealing with Objections

This is perhaps the most underrated of all the seven steps. In this step, you should listen to concerns aired by your prospects and address them accordingly. It’s an important phase because this is the point at which salespeople drop out. About 44% give up after the first rejection, 22% after two rejections, 14% after three rejections, and 12% after four. Because 80% of sales require not less than five follow-ups, successfully handling objections is what will separate a great salesperson from a bad one.

6. Closing

Congratulations if you’ve got to this stage, which is the goal from the beginning of the sales process. Sometimes it happens earlier, but in most situations, you have to follow through all the stages. In this stage, the client decides to proceed and make a purchase. You can try a few of these closing techniques:

• Extra inducement close – where you offer something extra to motivate the prospect to close the sale, such as a discount or a free month of service.

• Standing room only close – you create urgency by emphasizing time is of the essence. An example would be “the price will go up in three weeks after this discount offer expires”, or “only five spots left”.

• Alternative choice close – in this technique, you offer the prospect a choice that includes two options that close a sale. Example: “You can pay upfront or choose installments if you don’t have the full amount”.

7. Follow-Up

With the sale closed, you don’t stop there. You want to keep the client as a return buyer. The follow-up stage helps you stay in contact with customers after closing a sale for potential repeat business and referrals. Retaining customers is less costly compared to acquiring new ones, so maintaining a relationship is important.

Sales Methodology vs. Sales Process

There’s a distinction between a sales methodology and a sales process. As seen above, a sales process involves a series of steps with defined actions that help to close a new customer. However, a sales methodology is a framework for how salespersons should carry out the sales process and the benefits your business can draw from the process. While a sales process is the steps the sales team follows, a methodology includes the different approaches your team can follow.

Tips to Improve Your Sales Process

One of the reasons sales teams fail to achieve their sales process goals is because they miss a few important points. Here are four best practices you should observe to improve the effectiveness of your sales process.

• Analyze Your Sales Process

A sales process is subject to changes happening in the market and may not work the entire time. You should analyze the process to understand what’s working for your prospects and your sales reps. With information, you can tailor the process to fit their needs more accurately. This will enhance success and help you close more deals. Dig deep to understand the pain points and motivations that drove previous sales.

• Define Your Buyer’s Journey

Unless you look at things from the buyer’s perspective, it can be difficult to understand what the market expects from you. Define the buyer’s journey to understand how buyers interact with your reps, the motivations and pain points they encounter, and why they need your service or product. Laying out the buyer’s journey offers you insight into the best way to tailor the sales process for a strong relationship with prospects.

• Define Actions that Move Prospects to the Next Stage

You also need to understand the things that cause prospects to proceed from one stage to the next. The reason will be tied to the actions of your prospect and not your sales reps’ perception. Ask questions such as whether there were objections that moved the deal forward or stalled it. Find out if reps hit specific paint points during outreach.

• Design Exit Criteria for Each Step

For each step, you need to have clear exit criteria. This means identifying points that must be fulfilled before your prospect moves from one step to another. When deciding exit criteria, consider the kind of information your reps should have about your brand and the actions they should take in all the steps of the sales process. Also, know what the reps should say in each step, highlighting ways a conversation could go and the best way to manage all steps.

• Measure the Sales Process Results

The sales process evolves as your team develops efficient strategies to move prospects through the funnel faster. You’ll need to measure your sales process’ success to ensure it’s successful in consolidating your team’s efforts and hitting your targets.

Consider how many prospects moved through and out of each step over a given period. Look at the time prospects spend in each step, the steps that retain prospects for too long before they move to the next step, the percentage of prospects you closed after a demo, etc.

Final Thoughts

A successful sales process is not rigid. It requires revisions and should be adapted to reflect the market’s current state, team skills, changing customer needs, and business specifics. Always keep it as a work in progress even when you follow a standardized process. And don’t forget to measure performance to understand areas that require improvement to enhance the sales process's efficiency.

Has your business adopted a sales process? How many steps do you have, and does the sales process help the business close more deals?

Let us know the benefits and challenges you’ve realized, and if you’re thinking about integrating a sales process for the first time, what you think could work for your business. Share in the comments below.

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