This past week I was working with another sales team that is doing well in today’s marketplace. They are among the lucky ones; they are selling a product that is in high demand in the age of COVID. And they have been doing well in these challenging times, their sales team is starting to feel the impact. It has been a long two years, they are struggling to say motivated, and finding it tough to keep up with the demand in the marketplace.
Sound familiar. Whether these past few years have had a positive or negative impact on your business, seems like everyone is feeling the impact. After two years of selling with so much uncertainty and change, many on our teams are feeling overwhelmed, tired, and burned out.
Why? Well, make no mistake these are challenging times, but if your sales strategies, sales training and most importantly sales process has not been updated than you are making selling today so much harder than it must be.
Think about it – how much our world has changed in the last few years – our customers, our competition, the marketplace, the global economy, the working environment, and the list goes on. With so much change happening in the marketplace, wouldn’t it make sense that your sales process would need to change too?
Of course, it does. We are living in a time when there is more shifting outside of your business then in it, that can impact your ability to be successful. That means you must consistently be asking yourself what do I need to change if I want to engage better with customers, outpace my competition and get more opportunities to engage with decision makers? It means it is time to update your sales process.
Now let us back up a little and talk about what a sales process is and why it matters. Your sales process is your roadmap to better sales performance and results, and it is not anything more than a set of repeatable steps that a sales professional takes to guide a prospect and/or a customer from awareness to conversation to close.
The truth about a sales process is that those sales professionals that use one outperform those that do not. A study by Harvard Business Review (HBR) showed that businesses with a standardized sales process see up to a 28% increase in revenue as compared to those that do not.
In another research, HBR reveals that 50% of high-performing sales organizations admit having “closely monitored, strictly enforced or automated” sales processes. Meanwhile, 48% of under-performing organizations have non-existent or informal sales processes. So yes, a sales process matter.
So, let us look at the traditional sales process. For years, the sales community has promoted a seven-step sales process.
The 7 Step Sales Process
- Prospecting – building a list of prospects that you want to focus on to buy your products and services. This is the list from which you will set your sales calls.
- Preparation – this is everything from doing some high-level research, to determining the questions you want to ask, and how you want to guide the sales conversation.
- Approach – how will you connect with your prospect, get to the decision maker, and set up that very first call.
- Presentation – the actual sales call – virtual or in-person. What you learn, what you present and what next steps you set.
- Handling Objections – determining and being prepared for any obstacles or fears your prospects may have. Working ahead of time and being ready for how you will help your prospects move past objections.
- Closing – asking for the business and getting the deal closed.
- Follow-up – whether you continue to follow-up to get the deal to close or follow-up to expand the relationships.
This is a powerful sales process, and for years, pre-covid, it was good enough. But this marketplace has changed. Sales has gone virtual, prospects are guarded with their time, and it is tougher and tougher to get to the decision maker.
If you want to succeed in today’s marketplace it is time to up-your-game and redesign your sales process. You need to add five important steps to sell more effectively in today’s marketplace.
The New Sales Process – 12 Effective Steps
- Define Your Target Market – you need to start by having real clarity on who you are calling on. Here is a news flash not everyone wants to do business with you, and do you know what, you do not want to do business with everyone. Get clear on who your target market is, the better you understand your ideal customer, the better you will choose your ideal prospect. The better you choose your ideal prospect the faster the deal will close.
- Location of the Target Market – now determine where your target market is, what they do, and where they go for information. With so many traditional networking opportunities off the table, you need to understand the journey of where your prospects go for information and where and how you can interact with them.
- Marketing Process to Reach Target Market – according to Gallup, prospects today are 62% of the way through the buying cycle before they ever interact with a salesperson. So, the question is how can you, as a salesperson, use marketing to help you connect with prospects at the start of the buying cycle?
- Networking Process to Reach Target Market – how will you use the content that marketing is producing to engage your prospects? Marketing is the first step in sales, and you need to be using the materials that your marketing team is creating and integrate them into your outreach.
- Building The Prospect List – from these first four steps you have enough to start to build your prospect list. A clean prospect lists. A list of prospects that fit your target market, a list of prospects that you understand how to engage with as they are looking for information, and a list of prospects that you have vetted to be good candidates to benefit from your prospects and customers.
- Using the Customer Relationship Management System – with an expanding sales process, a longer sales cycle, and a much more complex journey to get to the decision maker you need to be business your customer relationship management system. You need data, you need analytics, and you need a reliable place to record every interaction as you move this customer to close.
- Strategic Call Prep – another important statistic from Gallup is that the number of decision makers involved in the decision-making process has gone from four to upwards of twelve. If you need 12-decision makers on the same page to buy your products and services than you need a strategic approach to your sales call. Strategic prep includes research, decision about who needs to be involved on your end and theirs, smart questions to ask, and the process you will follow.
- Product Knowledge and Depth – clear understanding of the range of products you offer, and the value and benefit they bring to prospects. What problems they solve, issues the address and opportunities they create. How to recognize when prospects are talking about challenges and opportunities what products are the right solution.
- Sales Conversation – how you establish trust and credibility quickly. Transition to the sales conversation and establish progress and next steps. What solutions will you offer, and what process you will implement to establish needs and priorities. Is this video, or in person, how does that impact the conversation and how will you prepare?
- Sales Follow-up – what will your follow-up process be both to close the sale as well as nurture the sale along. What content will you need, will you develop, and what mediums will you use.
- Handling Objections – what obstacles do you think your customers will have to moving forward, what objections have they shared, and what are your ideas and strategies to help them move past those objections and obstacles.
- Closing and Next Level Positioning – once the deal is closed what are your next steps for future sales and referrals. What other products can you offer, and how will you establish next steps.
Yes, there is a lot to selling today. As time is limited, decision makers are guarded, and it feels like very sale is complex.
So, take the time to review your sales process, see what needs to be updated, and think about adding these additional five steps. Then sit back and watch as you sell more effectively in today’s marketplace, and you turn all this uncertainty into your competitive advantage.