Every business has a process. Many times the process operates silently behind the scenes – keeping operations humming – and unbeknownst to the customer. The only times an individual becomes aware of the process is when it breaks down. This comes typically when a customer’s request/complaint/suggestion does not fit into the business process.
Sales has a process too. It is the map for success for the salesperson. It is the beginning, the fallback, and the foundation for a sales organization. Many times most sales people cannot articulate what their sales process is.
“Me, me, me…” – Agent Smith
“… me too!” — Agent Smith, from Matrix: Reloaded
The Typical Sales Process
When the average sales person is pressed to communicate their sales process this is the usual answer:
• Sales lead comes in – or – call list is given to sales rep
• Call lead – or – name on list
• Make presentation and overcome objections
• Close sale
Pretty simple process, eh? Typically all things that are successful in life are easy to communicate, understand and execute. What is wrong with this process is that it does not identify how to qualify, service, consult, and partner with your customer or client. It does not make every sales contact an event that enhances the customer experience and/or strengthen the business relationship. It is a sales process that is about the salesperson and not the customer. In the end it is a process that does not successfully lead to repeat business.
Consumers are statistics. Customers are people — Stanley Marcus
The Successful Sales Process
A successful sales process is a framework that is adjustable to the client/customer’s needs, desires, and will make them (your client) successful. It requires a sales person to truly understand the dynamics involved in the decision making process. The first being that all buying decisions made by customers are made with emotion not logic. The second being that it is the value perceived by the customer that triumphs over the value you feel you are giving.
The successful sales process is an infinite circle of six steps:
Steps One – Research
Whether you are given a lead, call list, or you must hunt for the business you need to know what forces affect your customers’ business, markets, and decisions. Before you even pick up the phone, post a letter, or send an email you need to qualify if they are the right clients for you.
Step Two – Make The Call
This call is about two things – learn who, how, what, when, and where decisions are made from the primary source: your client; and get the appointment for your sales call.
Step Three – Research In-depth
This research builds upon what you have done in step one. It is specific to your sales call that you are going to have with your customer. Here you will learn more about the company, the decision maker, and any other information that will help you exceed their need.
Step Four – Pre-Call Plan
Some salespeople typically like to link this with step three. It is ill advised; because the pre-call plan is narrowing down all the data you have gotten from your research to a specific call. The pre-call plan is where you will practice your presentation, anticipate objections, role-play the sales call, and build a framework in how you want the call to go.
Step Five – The Sales Presentation/Call
This is it… where all the work from steps one through four will give you the edge and help your customer win.
Step Six – Close for Business
Ask your customer what it is you want them to do: sign here, buy ten units, fill out this form, or whatever it is they must do to help you make the sale. If they say “No” well you close for another chance to present how they will win with you.
The beauty of this process is that it is never ending and it has specific actions that must occur before you move to the next step, but allows you to skip when needed. For instance, let’s say your customer said “No” when you closed. You can move to step three and begin your in-depth research right there in the call. The information you get from your customer can lead you to finding solutions and skip to step five immediately while you are in the sales presentation. If that is not appropriate, you have a starting point and reasons to return.
This sales process, conversely, can be used if you win the sale. Now that you have got your foot in the door you can research for referrals, other departments, and how to better improve your delivery service to your clients.
The great seal of truth is simplicity — Herman Boerhaave
Six Simples Steps
As mentioned above, successful processes are simple to understand, communicate, and execute. So are the six steps of the successful sales process. What makes this process the best is that it is about the customer, the customer, and the customer. It is a sales process that is not about the salesperson at all.