How to Build a Profitable Sales Process
To sell more is the goal of every sales manager, and they all know how crucial it is to define a proper sales process for the company's income.
Building a systematic, repeatable and scalable sales process is hard. There is no single "right" sales process for every company. Even tightly controlled and easily measured sales workflow doesn’t make closing deals easier. So what should you do?
Organize Your Customer Information in One Place
Organizing and keeping track on your business contacts is a must nowadays. It is so critical, that for almost every business it can be the difference between success and failure. Fortunately, companies now use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to easily control this process.
Read what CRM is and why businesses should use it here: What is CRM and Why SMEs Should Care.
CRM is a software where you collect and structure information about your customers, from a range of different channels. The system can help your sales reps know the important details about leads and customers - all contact details, information on closed/potential deals, historical data and more – everything is stored in one easy-to-access place. Using a CRM solution assists you to offer a more individual approach to clients. It integrates and automates sales and marketing.
Choose the Right Sales Methodology
Every company is developing a unique sales process, based on its market, products or services, trends and position. What works for one company will be irrelevant for another.
However, if you’re confused about what to do, here are some proven methodologies and processes you can adopt.
What is a sales methodology?
A sales methodology is a description of the steps in a part of the sales process. Usually it doesn’t apply to the entire sales cycle. The sales methodology is not a sales process, but can be used within it.
SPIN selling strategy was first introduced by Neil Rackham in 1989. It’s one of the most well-known selling systems. The foundation of SPIN is based on four types of questions salespeople should ask their clients: Situation, Problem, Implication, and Need-Payoff. It focuses on asking questions to understand the buyer’s situation, needs, preferences.
This methodology involves transforming your salespeople from “product” to collaborative consultants, who become trusted advisors to customers. It follows the customer steps and behaviors. This methodology recognizes that not everyone in the sales process has the same objective, but we must meet the objectives of each person in the sales process.
SNAP stands for Simple, Invaluable, Aligned and Priority.
The SNAP selling process, introduced by Jill Konrath in 2012, aims to speed up the selling process as nowadays everyone is busy and frazzled. The goal is to keep the sales process very simple and your product and service easy to adopt. The key is to get “in the head” of your customers and offer them only one or two solutions.
The Sandler Selling System
The Sandler system, developed by David Sandler in 1967, has somewhat revolutionary approach. It states that both parties should have a mutual level of commitment and when done right, the buyer is convinced that they are the one actually pursuing the deal.
Once objections such as time or budget have been exposed and discussed, the sales rep assesses whether or not this deal is truly right for the prospect. If the rep can see that his offering isn't right for the potential client, he won’t waste time persuading them to buy, he’ll let the deal go.
The concept here is pretty simple: the salesperson analysis the prospect’s needs and try to sell a solution for them rather than the actual product. The sales rep help the prospect to understand he might have a problem and how he should address it.
Solution selling is ideal for industries with highly customized products.
Define Each Step of Your Sales Process
Define several key activities with measurable outcomes for every step of the sales process. These steps will help sales reps succeed by knowing how to approach each lead and exactly what actions to take to follow up.
The common stages of the sales process are:
Prospecting involves gathering prospect information from multiple sources (digitally, in person, self-generated, etc.). Very often the first core sales activity is building a prospect list.
After you have identified your prospects, the next stage is to make contact. Choose communication channels that are appropriate for your business or type of prospect. Sometimes a phone call is the right mean of contacting a prospect, while other times your first point of contact may be an email. In this stage, you are just establishing a connection with potential clients in the hopes of setting up the basis for future communication.
It's very important to be able to keep information on all contact events involved in the communication. Use your CRM system to do that.
Qualifying is determining whether a lead is valid and has buying potential. Often sales reps will have a list of qualifying questions that will help them figure out if a prospect is qualified. You can implement also a qualification methodology system, like BANT, to help you achieve that.
B = Budget (what's the prospect's budget)
A = Authority (the decision maker)
N = Need (prospect’s business need/ need for your solution)
T = Time frame (the time-frame a prospect has to implement a solution)
A typical stage is to make a formal demonstration of what is being sold. This stage is time-consuming, so it typically comes later into the communication and happens with really interested and qualified leads.
Make sure your presentation is personalized for the prospect's unique business and workflow. Your salesperson must demonstrate the level of service the customer will receive and try to honestly answer questions.
Negotiating is a bargaining process that finalizes the deal. It includes handling objections on both sides, if any. As the deal approaches its closure, it may include actions, like delivering a quote or proposal, negotiating, and others.
The closing stage is what every salesperson works towards. There are different approaches to closing a sale and they depend on how the previous stages played out - you can take a more direct approach or with a less enthusiastic prospect, you will need a softer one. If a deal is made, then the salesperson will receive commission and mark the prospect as “Close Won”. Now this Lead is converted to Client. After that, the account usually passes to an account manager or support representative. If a deal is lost, the lead is marked “Close Lost” and may be open again for contact after some time.
Whether you use these default stages or customize them to fit your business, your entire sales organization should understand what each stage means. Your sales team shouldn’t have to guess how they should be managing deals at each stage. Clearly defined actions are needed for your reps to move leads through the sales funnel.
Setting your sales process is only one piece of the puzzle, but it is an essential one. The way you manage your prospects and clients plays a huge role in the overall success of your sales. You must have a deep understanding on how your sales pipeline functions, in order to achieve greater sales success.