This is critical for sales success!
Sales Strategies - Follow a Sales Process (often referred to as a sales cycle)
Prepare or Pre-Approach
Respond to Objections
7 Step Sales Process
The outline below is a simple example of a sales process I have used to train a previous client's salespeople. It outlines a typical 7 step sales process or sales cycle. It applies to remote (telephone & video) or field sales. There are many variations of this model created by other sales experts, but they all have a similar objective; to follow a disciplined approach to selling. If your sales team does not consistently follow a sales cycle, you have an opportunity for significant sales growth simply coaching your sales team do so.
Tip: Most salespeople don't remain disciplined enough to consistently use a sales process. They often don't spend enough time on the needs analysis and take short cuts, which leads to lost sales. Sales managers should coach the salespeople to consistently use the sales process that they were trained to follow
A 7 Step Sales Process
Pre-call preparation or pre-approach - Prepare for your visit. Do you have a list of prospects? Who will you contact? What will you say. Prepare a script or calling guide if it will help you remember to ask the proper qualifying questions. We recommend this since you can focus on your prospects' answers to your questions.
Approach - This refers to the initial greeting and some additional qualifying to find out if the client is the proper contact and the company could be a solid customer. You may contact a person you believe to be the decision maker, but it is someone else. Identify and make contact with the correct person. Create a rapport and establish the purpose of the call with the prospective customer and confirm the opportunity. Make sure you are speaking with the decision maker or a decision maker. This is your chance to earn the prospects trust, which makes the next step easier, since you've earned the right to ask questions.
Needs Analysis - You have established a dialogue that earned the right to advance to this step. You now have the opportunity to create a buying atmosphere. This is a question driven dialog. You should ask relevant open-ended questions that keep the conversation going as you take notes. The needs analysis can help you further qualify the opportunity for a sale. As you capture valuable information for your presentation, try to find the prospect's pain points or reason to do business with you. Look for an opportunity to build a sense of urgency for the prospect to want or need your product or service now. You must create a sense of need by focusing on the prospect's pain points, asking questions that lead to prospect identifying a need as it pertains to your product or service. Get them to feel the pain from their need before offering a convincing reason that you can fix their pain. Create urgency in a similar manner by focusing on the immediate benefit of a decision today. This is a needs analysis. Undisciplined salespeople often rush into a presentation too soon. Avoid making a presentation even if you see buying signals. Finish your needs analysis. Again, finish asking questions. Do not jump into a presentation until you have asked enough questions and created that need. You may still uncover some pain points and more selling opportunities.
Present - If you performed an effective needs analysis, the presentation could transition smoothly to a close. Hopefully, your questions have prepared your prospective customer for your solution, which you describe in the presentation. A consultative selling process typically causes the presentation to be the easiest part of the sales call. You may find the prospective customer helping you with the solution. The presentation is your opportunity to link the client's needs (pain points) to your products' benefits. Address the pain points. Provide relief from the pain with your product or service.
The Close - Most salespeople do not need strong closing skills if they've effectively followed the sales cycle to this point. By asking the right questions, responding to answers with the right follow up questions, followed by an effective presentation, you should be ready to close. Prepare to have some decent closing questions utilizing some common close techniques like the "choice of two positives close", the "Ben Franklin Close, and many more.
Objection Handling - You may handle some objections earlier in the sales cycle. I like to refer to this as a final consultation. If you were effective during the needs analysis and presentation, you've eliminated many objections. There may be some lingering technical questions that need clarification. The price objection often arises. "Price" is the number one objection. It often masks the real objection. Ask "other than price, is there something else holding back a decision"? This often exposes the true objection. Get training on objection handling or practice common objections and how you handle them.
Re-close - Plan to go in a loop back to objection handling and re-close again. You might make several closing attempts before you successfully close the sale. Hang in there. If you close the sales, schedule follow up activity. If you do not close the sale, ask for referrals and attempt to set up a meeting for a future date.
Tip: There are many different sales cycles (or sales processes). Many are customized for client needs. They can vary by industry, sales complexity, sales channel and more. What this sales cycle example does not include is the referral request. Although a typical time to request a referral is at the end of a call, there is no specific order for asking for a referral. Be aware for the proper timing....and, don't forget to ask for a referral! If you don't get the sale, don't forget to ask for a referral before ending the conversation. Many failed sales calls can lead to successful referrals that convert to sales. Check out my article on asking referrals.
We Offer Sales Consultations about the Sales Process Using This 7 step sales process and more advanced processes for a more Consultative Sales Cycle. This is a Great Start for Any Sales Organization.