Without a structured sales process, it’s unlikely that your sales team is delivering to their full potential. Arguably, a robust sales process is the best way sales managers can enable their team to perform. As such, an effective sales process is critical to a company’s success. However, developing a sales process from the ground up isn’t as intimidating as it may sound. Essentially, a sales process is a series of stages that you can replicate in every sales scenario. With these tools, the sales team can convert prospects into customers with greater efficiency. In this article, we describe how to outline your sales process, the importance of a well-structured strategy, and how chat chatbots are refining sales cycles.
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Outlining a sales process
Depending on the complexity of your product, a sales process is likely to have approximately three to seven steps. Each stage will cover the key milestones of a sale, illustrating the main activities the team must undertake to drive conversions. If your team has never formalised their process before, often, all the tools you need are at your fingertips. For example, reps are likely to already have a rough method they employ to secure customers.
As a result, a good place to start is gaining an overview of what the sales team is already doing to convert leads. Unfortunately, a fatal mistake many sales managers make is failing to research what their team is already doing. After all, if the business is making a profit, they must be doing something right – it’s just a question of optimisation. When approaching the sales process, managers should ask, “what’s the first thing a rep does to connect with a customer? And what’s the last thing they do before they seal the deal?” From here, leadership can begin to fill in the blanks.
When beginning your research, take a sample of recent successful sales as case studies. Here, ask the team some key questions:
- How was lead acquired?
- When were they contacted?
- How many attempts were made to contact them and did this follow a schedule?
- How did the rep present your company’s product?
- What information was shared in the initial conversation and what questions were raised?
- Where there obstacles in negotiations?
- When did the rep follow up?
- After the sale was completed, when was the first post-sale contact?
Even if the team can’t answer every single one, they’re a useful starting point. Once a series of sales scenarios has been collated, businesses can begin to identify the common features of success.
The 7 steps to a successful sales process
The precise process of every businesses sales cycle will be different. However, we have drawn up a model process to enable sales managers to structure their research. The sales process we describe here has seven steps – which is the maximum we recommend. Using this toolkit, sales managers can model their unique sales structure.
1- Go prospecting
Prospecting is the stage where you search for potential clients. The key to success at this preliminary stage is to know where and who to look for. To do this, the sales team should develop detailed customer profiles.
2- Grab their attention
You’ve identified the target audience, now it’s time to get their attention. However, in today’s sales landscape, this is particularly challenging. On average, the attention span of a buyer is no more than eight seconds. Therefore, you need to ensure your marketing content is dynamic and engaging.
3- Make contact
Many sales experts say that a powerful gesture in today’s market is to let the lead do the talking. Today, consumers are far savvier. Therefore, aggressive sales techniques are rapidly being superseded by presenting solutions. Once you have their attention, ask the customer what they want and need.
4- Present your product
At the pitching stage, companies should continue to keep the customer at the centre of their strategy. For instance, continue to reflect on their attention, desires, and requirements. Keep the pitch succinct and focus on how the product will benefit them specifically.
5- Meet objections head on
Remember – an objection is an opportunity, not a failure. Objections enable sales reps to learn more about their client’s needs. Let them explain their issues and respond in a constructive manner. Through this process, you can reinforce the solutions presented in stage 4.
6- Seal the deal
No matter how enthused the customer is, you always have to seek confirmation to close the deal. Ultimately, sales reps should strive toward this moment and aim to shorten the sales cycle. Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet – your business should learn from successes to identify the best lines.
7- Customer care
It’s good to stay in touch. After the sale has closed, follow up with customers to make sure they’re satisfied with their product. Following up with customers is an important way to encourage return custom and build a positive reputation.
Why a structured sales process is important
A formal sales process is crucial to refining the sales cycle. As implied in the discussion of stage 6, short sales cycles are central to maximising efficiency. After all, businesses should be aiming to reduce overheads and maximise profit. In essence, this requires increasing the volume of sales and reducing costs per sale. Furthermore, a formal sales process enables efficiency supported by research, testing and evidence, which fosters accountability. Moreover, a formalised sales process is essential to coaching. For example, a structured sales process enables new recruits to get up to speed.
How chatbots are streamlining the sales process
In today’s technology-driven markets, customers have become increasingly accustomed to instant gratification. Depending on the complexity of your product or service, this can create challenges. For instance, the process described above assumes a complex product that requires contact with a sales rep. But what happens if your team aren’t available 24/7? How can a business based in London instantly meet the needs of a client in Sydney? How do companies strive to market a complex offer around the clock?
Today, many businesses are deploying artificial intelligence to meet consumer demands. For example, chatbots are becoming a critical tool for any company’s online offer. With the help of chatbots, companies can significantly reduce response time. A chatbot guarantees a response, enabling salespeople to focus on high-value customers that are likely to convert. As a result, chatbots can increase sales productivity by streamlining resources.
Create relationships and keep them
The most important purpose of a sales process is to foster a relationship with prospective and existing customers. A sales process is about asking questions, offering solutions, and providing value. Now, chatbot technology is enabling companies to deliver this level of service all the time. From here, businesses should strive towards the highest level of customer care to encourage return custom. As such, implementing a well-structured sales process is the key to shortening sales cycles and increasing win rates.