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Creating a well-defined set of sales process steps is crucial for business growth. Admittedly, many salespersons don’t adhere to a routine.

Theirs is a life of fun and new experiences on a daily basis. While this is a great thing to have, it’s impossible to live a Peter Pan life throughout.

At some point, you’ll realize that to grow, a structured plan is of the essence.

In our article, we’ll be looking to share pointers on why following sales process steps can make you more effective.

BONUS: Building An Innovative Data-Driven Sales Process (Using Blueprints)

What is a sales process?

A sales process refers to a set of repeatable steps that your sales team takes in order to convert prospects into customers.

If you’re looking to enhance performance levels, it’s necessary that you invest in building a sales process. By so doing, you’ll realize that you have empowered your sales team to conquer their world.

At the same time, it’s notable that not everyone is blessed to be a natural-born sales rep. As such, having a structured system in place is sound logic since it provides a guideline on how to act.

Why your business needs a sales process

Having the best talents at the workplace has its pros. The same can actually be said for the best drafters; those who put in the work.

However, what’s even better is providing these great salespersons with a road map for success. Without one, you’ll find it harder to achieve your goals. This is because you’ll have no sense of structure and accountability to your sales activities.

As such, you’ll struggle to get higher win rates and shorten the sales cycle.

However, if you follow a series of sales process steps, you’ll likely win-over the hearts of many by delivering excellent customer experience.

In a different era, the used-car salesman would make a killing by simply tabling the facts to prospects. It’s a whole different ball game today. At present, customers are more knowledgeable and don’t want to be forced into making a buying decision.

Since you want to be on the right side of history, it’s important to not rush them into one. This may be a bit tricky to achieve without following an elaborate set of sales process though.

With one in place, you can anticipate the right time to strike and advance a sale when the buyer is ready to proceed.

At the end of the day, you don’t want to seem distrustful by rushing a deal.

The onus is therefore on you to come up with a sales process that reflects how much the company values customers. The steps also need to be tailored to generate trust since this is usually the basis for good customer experience.

Focusing solely on closing a sale doesn’t usually augur well with customers.

Sales process steps

Sales processes are normally broken down into a number of different stages. This is done to give you the power to establish better sales practices whilst tracking the sales funnel.

Our review today will focus on the 7-step sales process. This includes:

  1. Prospecting
  2. Preparation
  3. Approach
  4. Presentation
  5. Handling objections
  6. Closing
  7. Follow Up

Having listed them out, it’s essential that you take time to master these seven sales process steps. Once you become adept, then you can begin to make tweaks to the process as you move along.

With a bespoke solution in hand, you’ll be able to adapt, change, and/or define the market at will.

1. Prospecting

Known as lead generation, this is the preliminary stage. Here, the objective is to find potential customers and ascertain whether they require your products or services. Once you identify them, you can then proceed to add them to the top of your sales funnel.

You also need to probe whether they can afford what you’re selling. This rather intricate process of evaluation is typically referred to as qualifying.

One of the most popular qualifying frameworks is BANTbudget, authority, need, and timeline. It involves a review of whether the lead is interested in what you’re selling.

Once that’s established, you can then ascertain whether they have the funds and decision-making power to buy.

If they tick all these boxes, you can proceed to the next step.

2. Preparation

Here, you’re involved in the preparation for initial contact with a potential customer.

As such, you need to put your best foot forward. This means researching the market and jotting down all relevant data about your product or service.

With a clear picture of what to do, you can proceed to develop your sales presentation. Since you want to please, it’s best to tailor it so that it to suit your client’s particular needs.

For your presentation to work, you need to do your homework. Once you do this, you’ll be adept enough to anticipate all follow-up questions and issue good timely answers.

Objectively, you need to look through the lenses of a trusted advisor and not someone who’s hurriedly trying to make a sale.

As shown in the LinkedIn State of Sales 2018, trust is the number one factor (at 51%) most decision makers want in a salesperson.

3. Approach

Where the rubber meets the road.

Here, you make the actual contact with the client. Depending on what you agree on, this can either be a face-to-face meeting or over the phone.

If you’re unsure on which tact to employ during the approach, you can try out any of these 3 strategies:

  • Premium approach – this involves doing some gift shopping to present to the client before the interaction.
  • Question approach – involves making inquiries in order to get the prospect interested in what you have to say.
  • Product approach – here, you let prospects have a taste of the waters. You can issue them with a sample or a free trial so they can review and evaluate how amazing your products/services are.

4. Presentation

This refers to the act of demonstrating the suitability of your products/services to potential customers. While most presentations are usually delivered in prose or using PowerPoint, you don’t have to stick to this approach.

Ideally, you want to have your ears wide open while making your presentation. This allows you to take in what your customers are saying and you can then respond according to their needs.

5. Handling Objections

This requires a sense of finesse. Before you respond to objections raised, you need to have good listening skills. You can make notes as they raise issues before addressing them.

Many salespeople fail to handle objections with ease because they give up easily after a single rejection. However, you shouldn’t give up so easily since 80% of prospects say “no” four times before saying “yes”.

Objections are what usually separates the wheat from the chaff. You can tell who a good salesperson is by the manner in which they handle objections and alleviate concerns.

6. Closing

During this stage, you get the thumbs up from the customer to proceed.

Depending on the nature of your business, you can sample any of these closing tactics.

  • Alternative choice close – everybody loves options. The more choices you can offer prospects, the easier it will be for them to close the sale. You can seek to establish things like whether they will be paying upfront or in instalments.
  • Extra inducement close – offering incentives can persuade prospects to close. Things like discounts usually work great in this respect
  • Standing room only close – when you create a sense of urgency, you’ll realize that prospects feel compelled to close the sale

7. Follow-up

Closing a sale doesn’t necessarily mean that everything’s done and dusted.

After-sale services still count.

During the follow-up stage, you’ll be in close contact with customers which opens up the window of opportunities for repeat business. It’s also great since you have better odds of landing referrals.

Given the fact that it’s quite expensive to acquire new customers, it’s important that you work towards maintaining relationships.

9 reasons you need sales process steps

As alluded earlier, you need more than your intuition and an injection of creativity to thrive in the sales world.

To move to the next level, you need to be methodical in your approach. We’ll be listing out a couple of reasons why you need to follow a series of sales process steps:

1. Declutter

With an elaborate setup, you can have a proper understanding of how things stand. You’ll be able to realize which strategies work and which don’t.

In your review, you may note that there are specific triggers that cause prospects to move from one stage to the next. With this kind of knowledge, you can recommend the right kind of actions to eliminate bottlenecks in the process.

2. Remain focused

With a proper road map, you can navigate through the sales process with ease. Having pointed this out, you need to know that this doesn’t necessarily mean that your path will be filled with “turn, here!” signals.

Not at all.

Rather, this system ensures that you’re conversant about what each step entails. This will prove pivotal in managing your time because you’ll have a sense of awareness of what’s going on.

In case you encounter hurdles along the way, you’ll also know when to jump the hoops.

3. Make the most of your creativity

In most instances, creativity is brought about when one has some extra legroom to operate. While following sales process steps means you have to adhere to an elaborate approach, this doesn’t really stifle your creativity.

You may actually realize that you can better articulate yourself using the system since it encourages inventiveness.

So don’t shy away from selling on social media platforms or drafting killer sales emails. The world is your oyster, bend it to your will!

4. Customer’s viewpoint

On many occasions, companies come up with a sales process that shows the manner they want to sell. Rather than focus all the attention on your business, you need to think from a customer’s perspective.

If you have trouble coming up with a customer-centric sales process, you need to ask the following queries:

  • What are my main client groups?
  • How similar or dissimilar are they when it comes to purchasing patterns?
  • How can I tweak my approach to guarantee repeat business?
  • What are my clients’ expectations during the various stages and what can I do to meet them?

5. Discover the cause of delayed sales

Once you adopt a sales process, you’ll be able to discover the real reason why there’s been a hitch in your sales.

Adhering to a set of steps gives you ample space to conduct analysis and identify whether you did enough or were complacent. Once you come to a realization of where and how you erred, you can work on bettering yourself.

6. Enhance sales revenues and improve forecasting

Knowing exactly where your salespeople are can help you device accurate sales forecasting methods. Because the sales process entails a number of repeatable steps, you can get a consistent overview of how your team performs. This means you can deductions how many deals are closeable from a subset of leads.

With such kind of data, you can also easily predict your win rates and set quotas with greater precision.

7. Follow-ups

There’s nothing quite like a follow-up email when it comes to winning a sale. Often times, salespersons tend to forget following up with potential customers after lengthy chats.

However, by following a set of sales process steps, you’ll realize that you’re always in the know on which conversations to keep alive. With a healthy sales pipeline, you’ll have better odds of registering more sales numbers.

8. Better customer experience

In a bid to close a sale, you may find out that your salesperson hurriedly pushes customers towards the next stage of a sale.

If not handled right, this can have detrimental effects on the working relationship with clients. To avoid such kind of scenarios, it’s best to have a sales process that’s all about the customers.

Because no one wants a pushy salesperson, you need to work on the dynamics of the sale. This means makings tweaks on the sales process based on customer’s buying behaviors and expectations.

When you embrace this approach, you’ll be able to build stronger bonds with prospects.

9. Onboard sales rookies

Following elaborate sales process steps helps you with onboarding new employees. This can be quite helpful if you happen to have a shortage of sales trainers to inspire new members of staff.

Since 26% of reps have reported that their sales training is ineffective, more needs to be done.

Rather than have them fully depend on the knowledge imparted to them by senior colleagues, you can augment the experience by having a sales process. With it, you’ll find it easy to coach the sales team.

This because you’ll have a good overview of the behaviors and skills necessary for every stage. Importantly, you’ll be able to know what every step entails and the skills needed.

BONUS: Building An Innovative Data-Driven Sales Process (Using Blueprints)

Conclusion

Developing a well-defined sales process is only the beginning. To ensure that you don’t love that competitive edge, you need to work on continually enhancing the sales process. By regularly updating, you’ll be able to anticipate and deal with challenges in a timely manner.

With structured sales process steps, you’ll be able to focus on the things that really matter. To ensure that your team is always on point, you’ll probably need a good CRM system. This will come in handy in automating various steps stages of the sales process whilst providing you with prompts on what to do.

By staying atop of happenings, you’ll be able to program your operations and document all communications with ease.

Spick and span is what everyone wants right?

Do you believe you’re ready to follow sales process steps?

Having read our review, what advantages do you think it will bring you?

Let us know in the comments section below!

Author

Jack is known for leading the charge in sales innovation. He has a proven track record of working with top organizations to help them integrate social into their traditional sales process.

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