The reasons for a business to adopt a guided sales process are clear: it leads to success. Research reported by Sales Management Association confirms that developing a sales process is vital. It's like providing a track for runners. The following points describe how to define your sales process.
Use Sales Process Mapping
A method to define your sales process is to use sales process mapping. This practice involves going through each step of a sales process in real-time to understand how a sales rep or other member of a sales team engages with potential leads. Sales process mapping helps you weed out the bugs and refine your sales process to match your business goals and deliver desired results.
Part of the mapping process involves analyzing the customer journey and trying to make it as easy and enjoyable as possible. Today customer satisfaction is often associated with engagement between the customer and a sales representative. Today's consumers don't want to be hustled into buying something they don't want, so sales reps must be cognizant of when they apply too much sales pressure. Playing the role of a brand, product, and solutions educator are what many modern sales agents experience.
Learning about the customer experience is best achieved with surveys and interviews that provide customer feedback. Consumers now commonly turn to the internet to research a product by reading or listening to online reviews. Developing a system for capturing consumer feedback is essential to optimizing the customer experience.
As for the sales rep's experience, each one must learn your system while maintaining their personalities with the goal of boosting conversion rate. When a sales process becomes too obvious to customers, it can reduce their interest level. So part of a successful sales process involves letting your sales team have genuine conversations with strangers to find out where they fit into your market puzzle.
If everyone on the sales team had their style of selling products, each might encounter lost customers who don't like their style. But with an approach that eliminates pain points and replaces them with pleasant dialog, the chances increase of developing a relationship that can lead to consistent sales.
Identify Pain Points
Every business experiences fluctuations in sales, leading to uptrends and downtrends. When a downward sales cycle does not rebound, it's time for the business to make some type of change. Often all that's needed is more pronouncement of a sales process so that the team consistently interacts with potential customers.
One way to turn negative feedback into profits is to develop a solution that addresses a complaint. Then use this problem-solution story as part of your marketing. Consumers turn to online reviews to see if other consumers experience the same pain points and whether or not a particular product is a solution.
Pain points are unique for every product, but you can also generalize people's reservations about buying certain products. Price is normally a top factor, as many people aren't willing to pay high prices for anything, even if they could afford it. Another barrier to buying a product is its sustainability, such as whether or not it's a disposable product with minimal use versus a long-lasting, reusable product.
Prioritize Decision Makers
When you gather leads, it's important to use a scoring system to give higher priority to decision-makers. You can then measure leads as "hot," "warm," or " cold " within the category of decision-makers. Some businesses use a 1-10 scoring system with "10" reflecting a lead close to buying. If your sales strictly come from B2B transactions, you can save time by only targeting decision makers.
Sales are about building relationships, especially those that endure for many years. Winning the trust of managers and commercial buyers is part of the challenge in B2B sales. Suppose you focus on building personalized relationships rather than a numbers game of faceless market participants. In that case, it's possible to build a loyal following among decision-makers who value you as a solution to their needs.
Emphasize Repeat Business
An essential key to winning over new brand supporters involves initiating contact pleasantly and memorably. Today's sales efforts are becoming more personalized for many products and services to accommodate the customer as much as possible. Brand development is part of sales methodology since the key to developing loyal repeat customers is to build an aura around a brand.
The aura becomes the center of the culture you create and relates to everything you sell. This aura must be associated with positive feelings about your brand's values. The more people identify with your brand and its aura, the more likely they will support a variety of your offerings.
A traditional technique that still works for building a following involves getting to know prospects personally and calling them by their first name. The sales process should be flexible enough to allow the discussion to shift to the prospect's interests. Many people enjoy being interviewed about their opinions.
Create Buyer Personas
One way for a company to become more customer-centric is to create buyer personas to represent various market segments. A persona can be in the form of an avatar, photo, symbol, mascot, or whatever image you want to represent a market segment. It becomes a powerful reference and helps you visualize your market rather than think of it just in terms of numbers.
Buyer personas are useful for sales agents to develop different modes of communication, depending on the buyer's situation. In many cases, buyers can be grouped by economic factors, such as their income level, how often they shop and whether they are attracted to luxury or bargain items.
What's highly productive about developing buyer personas is that it can be a way to allow your sales team to participate in a brainstorming session. Adding creativity and collaboration to the sales experience makes the job more interesting and rewarding.
Overcome Objections with Rebuttals
The best way to handle objections is to develop rebuttals to pain points you learn about through customer feedback and other market research. You can overcome objections with planned responses that: 1) show concern and 2) offer a solution. This technique can save many leads that would've been otherwise lost without continuing the conversation after the customer says "no." They may not be interested at that moment, but when you start sharing interesting information about the product, it's possible to change their mind.
It's still important not to annoy potential customers by wasting their time when they have no interest. Instead of losing a customer forever, treating them with respect and showing you value their opinion is better. Cold leads turn into warm leads all the time just by sharing information that captures the imagination.
Tips for Closing a Deal
- Create a sales process that makes sense for your business and your customers.
- Focus on building a sales process that can be easily measured and tested.
- Distribute an outline of your sales process to each sales agent.
- Get closing ideas from a trusted advisor who is familiar with your industry.
- Never let your emotions get out of control. Don't take anything personally.
- Avoid showing impatience. It's best to have a relaxed focus.
- Accept the prospect's opinion and let them know you understand their view.
- Pitch the solution as well as the product. Tell a story about how it solved a problem.
- Learn about the tastes of the prospect.
- Show the prospect you care about resolving their issues related to the product.
Sample Sales Process
Documenting your sales process and having team members practice it is crucial. Maintaining a consistent sales methodology is important to team management, but the plan should be flexible enough to experiment with new strategies. Here's a sample step-by-step sales process:
1. Get contact information about decision-makers
2. Plan a product demo for each decision maker to experience
3. Offer a free trial period to get the customer involved with the product
4. Close the deal with a personalized pitch
5. Follow up with the customer to make sure of their satisfaction
The sales process always evolves with any business, so feel free to add steps that fit your enterprise. One of the most important reasons to develop a consistent sales process is so that your entire marketing team communicates the same language. It's critical that sales and marketing language match and that there aren't misunderstandings about what's being sold.
Use these ideas as a starting point for how to define your sales process, which is shaped by a methodology framework. Since each business must develop its own effective sales processes, consider ideas from various sources to form a sales process that fits your resources and goals. Once you have a well-defined sales process, you must communicate this step-by-step process to each member. The result should be a cohesive team that maximizes lead generation and boosts conversions.