Understanding the sales process!
Reasons for having a well thought-out sales process include:
- Seller and buyer risk management
- Standardised customer interaction in sales
- Scalable revenue generation
The advantage of approaching the subject of sales from a “process point of view” is that it offers the opportunity to use design and improvement tools from other disciplines and process-oriented industries.
Selling is often is considered ‘Art’ with the salesperson having some mysterious ability to separate prospects from their cash with a ‘natural’ gift of persuasion.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
Unfortunately this concept of a salesperson being ‘born’ or having to be ‘hungry’ in order to get results has no basis in reality! I have actually sold in a wide range of B2C and B2B environments in 28 countries. I have sold consumer products, luxury German Kitchens, £200,000 industrial software packages, advertising, websites, consulting, and more. I have sold in a retail environment, telephone cold calling to international CEOs, and field selling to independent retailers, large chains (Wal-Mart including Wal-Mart and Costco) and manufacturers in a wise range of market sectors.
I know selling and it is not magic!
It is process and discipline. Without process it is hope.
Hope is not a business strategy – or shouldn’t be!
With a very well designed sales process anyone (yes, anyone) can be prepared and trained to sell effectively! Some people will, because of their natural abilities, excel faster than others but with a good sales process every salesperson can achieve a solid standard to support the revenue goals of the business.
No business needs to churn through salespeople or struggle with getting enough revenue to support the business.
If your business has value and a market then a sales process can be designed to get that business.
‘Years ago I was overweight and completely out of shape. I took up running and within a few weeks decided to set a goal of running a marathon. I bought a book by Jeff Galloway, which detailed an exact marathon-training program. I followed the program exactly as prescribed (to the letter) and six months later ran my first marathon in 4:26. Not fast, but respectable and in the middle of my age group.’
‘About ten years ago I decided that I wanted to learn to play the piano. I bought a nice used upright, found a teacher I liked (and was prettier than I deserved) and began lessons. I practiced daily and learned how to read music, how to play chords and slowly to sight-read and play at a basic competent level. Getting better was simply a matter of more practice, and feedback and correction from my teacher.’
The same can be true for your sales process!
Occasionally, you will be lucky and recruit a star salesperson who will help take your business to the next level and beyond but you don’t need to bet your business success on luck.
A solid sales process will support competent employees to more than pay for themselves and to support the revenue needs of the business. The more effort and investment put into the sales process the higher the average performance of the sales team. A great sales process will also include an internal feedback process that will identify what the best performers are doing differently (from the prescribed process) and teach the entire team with the result of raising the overall performance and continually improving the standard of the sales process.
Your business will get stronger!
Your best salespeople will move on and leave your business – they just will – but with a solid sales process you business need not suffer.
A sales process is presented as consisting of eight steps. These are:
- Prospecting/Initial contact
- Pre-approach planning the sale
- Needs assessment
- Meeting objections
- Gaining commitment
An additional step of feedback and process adjustment will help your sales team get better and stronger over time and become less and less dependent on the sales performance of individual salespeople.