Does your organisation have an effective sales process in place? Are you looking to develop one? Or maybe you’re simply wondering what you could be doing better?
Let’s take it from the top.
What is a sales process?
A sales process is a set of clearly defined steps that take people from being prospects to customers in a consistent manner. Starting at the point of enquiry, there are actions and responsibilities at each stage. The 5 key stages of an effective sales process usually look a bit like this:
Implemented properly, a sales process can increase conversions and prevent time being wasted on enquiries that aren’t going anywhere. It also gives your sales team a set of specific actions to follow at every stage, leaving no room for error.
The do’s and don’ts of an effective sales process…
Building a sales process takes time, planning and refining to get right. There are some specific ideas you should always include, as well as practices you want to avoid where possible. We’ve listed some common do’s and don’ts to bear in mind when designing your sales process.
DO – Qualify leads at the start of the process. This could involve some basic research or a short call or email to assess budget/requirement and confirm the prospects’ intentions. Spending a bit of time qualifying out weak leads early will save your sales team time and effort down the line.
DON’T – Jump at every enquiry with the same force. If someone says they are currently just price gathering and will come back to you, don’t start bombarding them with sales calls and meeting requests just for the sake of it. This will only waste your time and theirs, and you could risk putting them off for good. Spend your time wisely on the leads that are most likely to convert.
DO – Use each point of contact to remind prospects why you’re good at what you do. This could include attaching testimonials, images, case studies or results alongside your communications. Every sales email is an opportunity to show potential customers why they should choose you.
DO – Show prospects you care. Simple touches like calling ahead to confirm an appointment, sending samples or offering a free consultation all show prospects you care about making their experience enjoyable. They also give a positive first impression of your customer service.
DON’T – Miss the chance to differentiate from the competition. It’s worth remembering that prospects who enquire with you may well be speaking to other companies too, so going the extra mile with your early interactions could help position your business ahead of the rest.
DO – Explain what you’re going to do and stick with it. There’s nothing more off-putting than a salesperson who can’t follow through on the simplest promises early on. During site visits, surveys and meetings, set out your agenda and follow it through. This builds trust with the prospect and shifts the control over to your salesperson.
DO – Be straightforward. It should be clear to your prospects throughout the process what the next steps are and what’s required of them. Guiding prospects through the stages will make purchasing the product/services seem less of a leap – the point of sale will simply become the logical last step in the process.
DON’T – Allow salespeople to skip steps. The whole point of following the process is that there are consistent, measureable actions at each stage. This means every prospect is receiving all the information they need to make an informed choice. It also means that you can spot weaker points where prospects are regularly falling off and make any necessary improvements.
DO – Document the process. Your process should be planned, agreed and then inbuilt into your internal systems. Create the relevant forms and literature to accompany each stage and make sure your team understand how to use them. If you use CRM or an equivalent lead management system, your sales process should be synced up to this.
DO – Be prescriptive on the details. When it comes to email responses and confirmations, automate as much as possible in order to keep it consistent. Equally, creating scripts for sales calls and checklists for meeting discussions makes sure no stone is left unturned. Being prescriptive also makes it easy for some of the stages to be completed by non-sales members of your team.
DON’T – Forget about it once it’s up and running. The beauty of a defined sales process is that you have an audit trail so you can track prospects from enquiry through to conversion. This makes it easy to analyse what’s working and what isn’t, enabling you to make improvements and see better results.
The most important thing to remember about creating your sales process is that although every business is different, the basic principles stay the same. By following this structure and adapting your operation to fit accordingly, you create a solid foundation from which to start seeing results.
What works for one company might not always work for another and you might find your sales process requires some additional stages. Building out from the basic structure, you can add new touchpoints that are specific to your business. And once you have your defined steps in place, you can test and amend them to continually improve their effectiveness.
The above pointers provide some general guidance, but it can also be helpful to seek third party advice to create yours. Why not check out our ‘Step-by-step guide to creating a successful sales process’ for some further guidance?
Alternatively, if you’d like to talk to our experts about your sales process or any other area of your business, contact us on 0113 394 4559 or firstname.lastname@example.org.