I was speaking on “Improving Sales” at a recent event and started with capturing the key sales issues faced by the businesses present. The list included demonstrating a need / describing the benefit, generating and converting leads, commoditisation / focus on price and closing the sale.
Firstly, during the discussion it became apparent that many of the businesses had a hap hazard approach to sales. Often relying on “the sales professional” to win business and were deeply frustrated with the variability of their results.
Far from sales being the domain of the sliver tongued, gift of the gab salesman. The best companies have a well-defined process and key performance metrics that they constantly monitor and strive to improve. So what does a sales process look like? Well they vary from company to company (it must be your process). But they each have key common steps:
1 – Find leads and build relationships
First of all, the starting point of the process is finding leads and building a relationship and this part has a heavy overlap with marketing.
2 – Need recognition
Need recognition follows; what is the problem the customer has? “Where is the pain?” Only once you have identified this can you move on to the next phase.
3 – Formulate a solution
Formulating the solution should always have at its heart the customer pain point and should always be a single minded statement of the benefit your solution provides. So establishing clear value attributable to solving the problem.
4 – Close the sale
Closing the sale becomes much simpler when you have demonstrated that the benefit of your solution is the removal of the customer’s problem. It boils down to the answering of questions designed to support your benefit assertion. The evidence required to back up your claim.
5 – Deliver and review
Finally, the last step of the process is delivery and should always include an evaluation of the process. What has been learnt? What could be improved?
Many companies describe the sales process in the form of a funnel and collect data at each stage.
For example, see the diagram below:
Each stage of the process has been broken out and data is collected allowing the management team to understand the effort required to produce a sale, assess performance, offer training and forecast results. So the result is a continually optimising process. Therefore, delivering a consistency of result with early identification of problems!