What is a sales process?
A sales process is a lot like baking a cake. They are a series of steps that are specific and can be repeated in order to move a potential customer from the awareness stage to becoming a closed customer.
Is it important to have a defined sales process?
Yes, having a strong sales process provides sales reps or teams with guidelines to follow so they can close deals more consistently. This is important because it helps to avoid any confusion or guesswork when trying to sell a product or service and ultimately helps the business make more money.
When you have a laid-out sales process, it helps new sales reps on your team get a grasp of how to go about making sales. Basically, it speeds up their learning process so they can start contributing to the success of the team.
We also mentioned that having a sales process helps your business make money as it increases the chances of your sales team closing leads. When you have a well-oiled sales process and sales strategy in place, it gives your sales team answers to who, why, what, when and how questions they will encounter when pitching to prospective clients.
Now that you understand what a sales process is and the reasons why you need one, let’s explore the different stages that are involved in a sales process.
The sales process steps can be divided into seven stages:
- Lead qualification
- Objection handling
- Closing stage
A well-planned sales process is essential for any company that wants to be successful in selling its products or services. By following the 7-step sales process, you and your sales team can increase the chances of closing deals.
Prospecting is the first stage of the sales process, in which potential clients are identified and contacted. It is a crucial step in generating new leads and should be approached with care and diligence.
There are a number of ways to reach new customers, including online research, making cold calls, sending warm emails, attending industry events, and networking.
You can also ask friends, family members, colleagues, and past or present clients to refer you to people who might be interested in the product or service you are offering. The goal of searching for potential clients is to create a list of qualified leads that can be followed up on and potentially converted into customers. It is important to remember that not every lead will turn into a sale, but the more leads you have, the better your chances of making a sale.
Prospecting can be a time-consuming process, but it is essential for generating new business. By taking the time to identify and contact potential customers, you will be one step closer to making a sale.
The next step is to connect with and qualify the potential prospects you have gathered, otherwise known as contact management. It is essential to do this so you can determine the ideal customer profile for you and also know which is not. You can qualify your leads through various means such as email, social media platforms, phone calls, cold calling etc.
During the sales journey or selling process, you should be equipped with sales conversation starters, ask questions and try to understand their needs. This, combined with accurate sales forecasts will help you know if you should move forward with them or not.
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At this point in your sales effort, you have qualified your potential buyers and you know who might need your products or services. The next thing is to conduct thorough research on these prospects. Get to know who they are, what they do, how they think, what their needs are, and how to meet their needs (buyer persona).
This is like putting yourself in their shoes so you understand them and create a more tailored and personalized experience for them. Note that this goes a long way in helping you close a sale. You can gather this data by visiting their website if applicable, visiting their social media accounts, reaching out to them to ask questions etc.
The pitch stage is where a salesperson from your team gives a formal demonstration of your product or service to qualified prospects using sales enablement content. The presentation or demonstration should be tailored specifically to the needs of the prospect the team is pitching to as this can impact the customer conversion rate. This presents an opportunity for your team to show off the unique selling points of your product or service.
Ensure that the sales team is always prepared to pitch by providing them with the needed sales enablement resources and training. This way, they can confidently highlight your product or service in the best light possible and help close deals.
Note that the pitch stage can be time-consuming and require a lot of resources, so it is advisable to reserve it for more qualified prospects.
Sales representatives are often faced with objections from potential customers. It is important to remember that objections are not always a sign that the customer is not interested in the product or service. In many cases, objections are simply a way for the customer to express their concerns or ask questions and it should be expected.
The best way to handle objections is to first listen to the customer and try to understand their objection. Once the objection has been fully explained, the sales representative can then address it directly. In some cases, the objection can be overcome with a simple explanation or demonstration. In other cases, the customer may need more time to think about the product or service. In either case, it is important to remain calm and polite throughout the entire process.
Also known as the moment of truth, the closing stage is where you know if the prospect will be taking an action favourable to you or not. It is also the stage where final activities pertaining to the deal take place. Activities like submitting sales proposals, negotiating, signing contracts, making a purchase etc. The closing stage varies from business to business, so keep that in mind.
It is the dream of every salesperson or team to close deals and deliver on their promises to prospects. The closing stage can happen at any point during the sales process depending on how much convincing it takes to persuade your prospect. In some cases, salespersons close deals during the qualifying stage.
Closing deals is the major goal of any sales process but it shouldn’t end there because sales follow-up is an important part of the sales process. It allows you to keep good customer relationships, gather customer feedback and also ensure that potential leads are satisfied with their purchases. It is also a good way to upsell and cross-sell additional products or services. The key to a successful follow-up is to be timely, personal, and helpful.
If you’re not constantly evaluating your sales performance, if you don’t have key performance indicators and if you are not improving your current sales process, you’re leaving money on the table. A well-oiled sales machine can mean the difference between a good quarter and a great one.
Don’t let your sales process get stale – take the time to review it regularly and make changes as needed. Even small tweaks can have a big impact on your bottom line. Keep your sales process fresh, and you’ll keep your sales numbers up.