Developing a Sales Process
A step by step approach to maximising your sales capability
When we encounter a successful sales person, it's tempting to think 'they're just a natural' - it's an excuse for our own shortcomings, and often a reason to avoid putting in the hard work necessary to up your game.
But the reality is, that whilst we all recognise the art of great sales, underlying it all is a methodology that we can all develop.
Get it right, and you'll find that everyhting else comes much more easily!
Get in a Partnership Mindset
We've all had bad experiences of pushy sales people, but the reality is that effective sales is about understanding your customer needs, and creating solutions that will meet them. We need to keep everyone happy, and we often talk about 'win : win' situations.
Successful selling is a two level transaction, it results in benefits for both the buyer and the seller:
- It gives value to the buyer by providing for their needs
- It gives value to the seller by providing investment in products and services
Whilst that provides a simple set of objectives, getting it right consistently, day in and day out, requires a systematic approach.
Develop a Framework
As a business process, a sales framework provides a highly methodical approach that covers all the activity necessary for a sales person to become successful.
You’ll often hear about the difference between working hard and working smart, and it’s this methodology that defines the difference. It’s about using your time efficiently and effectively, it’s about being accountable to yourself.
When success is hard to come by you’ll need to be able to identify where the problems lie, focus in on the issue, and come out with strategies and approaches to address them.
Think of yourself as a Formula 1 Race Director. Whether your car wins or loses is based upon a number of criteria: the driver, the engine, the chassis, the wheels and the brakes amongst many. You need to be able to see exactly where the challenges lie to avoid being overwhelmed and walking away in disgust.
Understanding The Process
A mental walk-through of a recent sales pitch is a good way to start.
- Identifying and prioritising target clients to ensure you’re directing your energies towards customers that are most likely to buy.
- Exploring and building a rapport with the client’s team will build strong and confident relationships with customers that will share their objectives and needs to enable you to build the right solution.
- Prioritising the various options to find the right contact at a client and make sure you’re talking to the people who can make a decision.
- Engaging the attention of your primary contact will be the next priority. Not only do you need to find a moment when they’ll be receptive to you, but you’ll need to develop the authority and credibility to ensure that they are willing to invest enough time and effort to consider your proposals and act upon their decisions.
- Researching is a critical skill for sales people. You’ll need to work out not only how you can understand their motivation to develop a shared ambition, but you’ll need to work out how their needs and desires should best be applied to your service to create a solution that works for everyone.
- Selling the product is the next important step. It’s about proving how the solution you have created meets their needs and fulfils their ambitions. You’ll need to be able to prove your points and support your arguments.
- Objection Handling is a key skill. No matter how hard you’ve listened and how ingeniously you have crafted a solution, nobody gets it right first time. If you are blind to your customer’s concerns then you’ll never get the chance to amend and develop your proposal to make it a winner.
- Negotiating the right price can often be the point where the greatest sales pitches stall. Most sales people can sell a Ferrari for a few dollars, but good negotiation skills ensure you can position both your service and the price point at a level that works for everyone. You may not be able to hit the lowest price they dream of, but you can certainly find a way of beating your competitors in terms of value.
- Closing the deal is the final hurdle. We’ve all had that moment when our fingers hesitate before we press send on an email, or hand over our credit card details in an online shop. Great closing skills allow us to identify opportunities that make it better to do that today, rather than wait until tomorrow.
Finally, if that proves successful, you need to consider how you're going to service your customer, and establish a relationship that keeps them coming back for more!
A Sales Process Checklist
That experience helps establish a methodology for all future activity.
We can breakdown that process into a checklist for sales people:
- Identifying and prioritising target clients
- Building a rapport with the team
- Finding the right contact at a client
- Grabbing the attention of your contact
- Gathering information
- Selling the product
- Handling objections
- Negotiating the right price
- Closing the deal
- Servicing the contract
- Supporting long term growth
Getting it right will mean looking closely at your preparation and performance in each of those areas, and creating a structured execution plan that will enable you to understand what works and what doesn't at each stage.
Now it goes without saying that most of us are not Formula 1 Race Directors, but those few bullet points are they key criteria on which you’ll be judging your sales success.
How you perform will depend upon how well you can convert your customer between these stages: from prospect to leads, from leads to contacts, contacts to pitches and so on.
A great sales person will measure their achievements at every level and be calculating their conversion at each stage. Where the levels start to drop is where you need to work intelligently and strategically to identify the problem and solve it.
Most importantly these steps should become so ingrained that they’re second nature: this process should be invisible, to a client you’re simply a great business person with a great service.
In the long term we’ll help you build a strategic sales plan to help you document and pursue these objectives in a transparent, accountable way.