Is there anything as integral to the success of your business as sales? Many would say that the sale is the crux of why a business exists. It’s the mechanism by which you exchange value, it’s how you generate revenue. Shouldn’t you pay extra attention to such a central component of what makes your business a business? We’ve mentioned before how important it is to define a sales process. Companies that define and implement a clear sales process regularly outperform those that don’t. You might think that developing an intelligent sales process would be on the top of just about every company’s priority list, but you’d be wrong. Many B2B companies neglect to spend time building their sales process. This makes crafting a solid sales process a great way to put yourself ahead of the competition.
The 7-Step Sales Process
The seven steps in this sales process provide a structural outline of a good sales process. Depending on the complexity of your business and your sales cycle, your process may have fewer steps but a similar structure. An understanding of these steps and how they fit together will help you create a sales process of your own. Like sales methodologies, your sales process needs to match your business. By starting with an understanding of the 7-step sales process, you should be able to craft your own.
The 7-steps are:
- Prospecting (Pre-sales Cycle Activities)
- Qualifying (Discovery)
- Needs Assessment
- Presentation (Solution Development)
- Handling Objections (Commitment/Negotiation)
- Closing (Closed/Won)
- Follow-Up (Post-sales Activities)
1. Prospecting (Pre-Sales Cycle Activities)
Your sales reps know that a sale starts with a lead. Prospecting is about finding potential customers that will be interested in your product or service. In other words, it’s finding those in your target audience.
There a number of ways to do this:
- networking at live events
- cold calling
- referrals from clients and business partners
- social media
- trade shows and associations
- inside sales/business development reps
- industry-specific software & tools
In this step, you can use detailed information on your target audience to help you hone in on potential clients.
2. Qualifying (Discovery)
This step is where prospective clients first interact with members of your sales team. Initiating contact with prospects can take several different forms. Whether it’s face-to-face, over the phone, in an email or on social media, the goal is the same. By gathering additional key information, your sales reps will be able to turn leads into qualified leads. Not all prospects will actually need your product or service and be able to afford it. This is about finding your ideal customer. Qualifying information can be found with questions related to budget, timeline, and need.
3. Needs Assessment
This is one of the most important steps in the sales process. A good sale is one that truly creates value for the consumer. To this end, the best approach is empathy. It takes a deep understanding of your customer’s wants, needs, and pain points. An empathetic relationship is one in which you really listen. To build rapport with potential clients and learn about their needs, your sales reps need to ask questions and actively listen to their responses.
The types of questions your sales reps ask are important. They should be open-ended and encourage the customer to speak at length. Not only will this process inform the sales rep, but customers often end up learning more about their situation as well.
As part of your sales process, consider defining a standard set of questions for your sales reps to ask. This will keep them from forgetting to get any vital information and will make sure they come off prepared and professional.
4. Presentation (Solution Development)
Actively listening in the previous step is the best way to prepare the presentation, proposal or solution for your prospect. An effective presentation takes direction from the needs of the consumer. The aim is to communicate the value of your product or service in a way that is personal to the customer.
This is the sales rep’s opportunity to demonstrate that they understand the client’s needs and challenges. They should transform the features of the product or service into benefits that will help the customer solve their problems. This is where sales reps should provide any necessary proof to validate their claims.
Check out our previous blog on how to do this!
5. Handling Objections (Commitment/Negotiation)
It’s not at all uncommon for prospects to express concerns or questions at this stage. In fact, your sales professional should encourage their prospects to express their concerns and ask questions so that they can be addressed sooner than later. How your sales team handles these objections is crucial.
For many products and services, there are a limited number of objections that seem to pop up with the greatest frequency. You can turn this into a positive for your sales team by documenting the most common types of objections they receive.
How have the members of your sales team addressed these objections?
Do some responses work better than others?
Sharing this information with your team will leave everyone better prepared. In this step, the goal is to have the prospect make a commitment to move forward. The end-game is a commitment to a sale, but you can also view closing as asking for a commitment to the next step in the process.
For developing this part of your sales process, consider making objection handling part of your sales training sessions.
6. Closing (Closed/Won)
Closing a deal is the end goal of the sale, but it’s still only one step of the process. Arriving at the close requires that the previous steps have all been executed well.
The key here is to remain focused on your prospect’s pain points and be responsive to their buying signals. At the end of the day, if the solution is right, the financials are in order, terms and conditions are agreeable and all pain points, questions and concerns have been addressed, you should have a closed/won deal.
Closing the sale is not the end of the sales funnel! To get to the close, you’ve already done so much work to develop a relationship and good rapport with the client. This relationship is valuable and shouldn’t be thrown away, even if someone else in your company owns implementation and delivery. Following up with clients, at least for the first year, is the best way to generate repeat business and referrals.
The Right Sales Process for Your Company
In the interest of generating as much revenue as possible, take a look at your sales process. If you’ve already defined one, can it be better? Make sure your sales process grows along with the rest of your company. The seven steps outlined here are a solid foundation for a sales process, but the best process for your company is one that is designed specifically for you. To keep your sales pipeline healthy and your close rate high, there are few better things you can do than defining and documenting a sales process for your business.
We Can Help Your Team with a Sales Process
To expedite meeting and exceeding your sales goals, it might be time to call in reinforcements. Schedule your free consultation here to find out how we help sales teams break sales records.