In a lot of businesses these days the focus is getting leads but there often is no process to maximise converting these into sales. One of the best sales improvement hacks is to develop and document a Sales Process. This can make a massive difference to your conversion rate – but where do you start?
Sales Process Basics
The Sales Process is the step by step process that allows you to convert a lead or sales opportunity into a sale. In a lot of businesses the focus is getting leads in and trying to sell a solution but it is important to define all the steps that lead to the ultimate sale, not just the final buying conversation.
Let’s say you are a professional services firm – say legal, accounting, engineering or IT services. Then its likely you think about “sales” as getting an enquiry, talking to the prospect, sending a quote with your company information, follow up, and the sale either happens or it doesn’t.
But what happens when you are not getting enough new business. Is the problem with:
- Not enough follow up
- The quote was too high / not what they wanted
- The company information doesn’t appeal to them
- Your competitors are meeting prospects face to face
- You don’t have enough inbound enquiries
- or any other possible reason
Unless you have clearly defined a sales process and measure each stage of the process you may not know where your opportunities are getting lost and therefore what you have to improve at each stage to get more new business.
So what steps should a Sales Process contain?
If you haven’t created or thought about a sales process, then the following ten stages may help as a start;
- Idea – This could be a potential client – you may have read about or heard about what they do or work with similar companies
- Lead – You have done some research and they look like an ideal client
- Contacted – You have contacted them / they have made an enquiry
- Qualified – They are a prospective client that you can help/ want to work with
- Needs – You had an initial meeting / call to understand their needs / introduce yourself
- Proposal / Quote – You have prepared & sent a proposal or quote
- Negotiation – They are interested in proceeding further, but want to negotiate on the terms of the quote
- Yes – the job is won
- No – The job is lost
- Future – They are not making a decision immediately – but in the next 6-12 months
Start with the initial contact
Now you have established some stage, think about what you currently do at each of these stages – particularly in the early stages and answer the following questions
- Is there any consistency to it?
- Why you do what you do?
- What are you doing in the early stages?
- What qualities are a good fit for your business
So this is all about outlining what you do already.
Improving the Process
This involves thinking about what you do after the initial contact. in the Sales Improvement Hacks episode of the Marketing Strategy Show podcast, we outlined some great questions to ask that will help you uncover the nest way to improve the process. These might include:
- Do you email them?
- Do you send them marketing materials?
- What other information do you give the prospect about your product or service once you have qualified them a a good client
- Think about what you are sending them this information. Is it because they ask a lot of questions about a certain aspect. then you might consider adding in frequently asked questions to dispel and fears they have
When you start to analyse what you do at each stage, you will probably recall times when you haven’t thought enough about what prospects needed and perhaps missed out on a sale. Or haven’t shown them other clients/industries that you have worked with to take away their fears. You will also start to quickly realise five or six things you can systemise to tighten up the sales process.
Barriers in Building a Sales Process
- A common problem is the Owner/Director/Partner is typically the first salesperson as they are more passionate about the product or service and they know what the customer needs better than anybody. They may have had a year or two or three years where they have practiced overcoming objections and troubleshooting different issues.What happens is all their knowledge is taken for granted because sitting up in their head. Then they go and hire a new employee or someone who has sales experience and they wonder why the salesperson doesn’t have instant success. its because the knowledge transfer takes time and effort to document and pass on.
- Many Owners/Directors/Partners value their money more than their time, so they won’t invest their time on doing things that will make them money down the track by hiring someone to assist in mapping out the sales process
- Another challenge that Owners/Directors/Partners face is that they are so busy working on the business doing the stuff they think is saving them money in the short time, they are not spending their time on the things that make money down the track – like defining a sales process.
We hope this will help you question what your sales process is and how you can improve it.
If you would like to discuss creating a sales process or an effective Integrated Marketing Plan for your Business we would love to help. Just call 1300 676 448 or contact us for an obligation-free discussion.