The Anatomy of a Great Sales Process
Have you taken an honest look at your sales process recently? When business is booming, analyzing your sales process is key to sustaining success, and understanding why it’s happening in the first place. Of course, an honest assessment also allows you to identify issues when sales are lagging. Developing a great sales plan starts with making a commitment to strive for constant improvement.
Outsiders and inexperienced salespeople often look at sales purely as a confidence game. You walk in the door, flash a winning smile, and pitch until the prospect simply can’t say no. And confidence really is important, but it’s dangerous when misplaced.
To build the right kind of confidence, your salespeople need deep knowledge of the product or service they’re selling, and of how your company operates. This knowledge isn’t just for peace of mind. It will actually help your people close deals. A strong pitch is a great way to lead off, but the conversation after the pitch is where most deals get made. If you want your sales team to navigate those conversations skillfully, you need to educate them well.
Prospecting and Lead Generation
How do I generate more leads? It’s the age-old sales question, and the digital age offers more answers than ever before. The trick is separating the gimmicks from the tactics that deliver sustainable results. Invest the same amount of money in digital and inbound marketing, and you’ll get a much better return on your investment than you would from, say, purchasing third-party leads.
- Social media is a gold mine for salespeople, as long as you’re willing to build relationships before going for the close. Teach your team to use groups and tools like hashtag searches to identify potential prospects. Use social to engage on a personal level, as you would when meeting a prospect in the brick-and-mortar world.
- Content marketing works hand-in-hand with social to build trust with your consumer base. Create and share content that leverages your industry expertise to offer real value to your readers. Content has a long shelf-life, and will spread quickly through social channels if it contains useful information.
- Augment your social and content offerings with other digital marketing tools. Use SEO to boosts your site’s visibility, and pay-per-click advertising to target prospects in your core demographic. Start an email list to keep customers in the loop, and use automation to send prospects the information they want, when they want it.
Talk… and Listen!
Usually, prospecting is followed by making the approach, analyzing the prospect’s needs, and making your presentation. With digital marketing tools, you should actually be taking those steps from the moment you engage. Every conversation is an opportunity to understand the prospect, decipher their needs, and plan your presentation.
- Take advantage of the information that prospects provide publicly on social and in other online spaces. Even if the information you find doesn’t directly help you close a deal, finding common ground is a great way to open communication.
- Take notes whenever you interact with a prospect, and use them to shape your presentation when it’s time to take the next step. A sales technology platform is the most efficient way to manage this process, and analyze its results.
- The real key is listening. Prospects are constantly leaving clues about their needs, sometimes without even realizing it. You can learn to read those clues just like you’d read a prospect’s body language and facial expressions when meeting in person.
Closing the Deal
Put in the necessary effort early in the sales process, and closing deals becomes a much more straightforward task. The benefits of all that information-gathering and relationship-building will show in your ability to adapt to any questions or concerns the prospect has after your presentation. You’re still going to run into difficult people on occasion, but maintaining a strong sales process helps minimize complications when it’s time to close the deal.
- Be prepared to answer questions, and don’t be afraid to ask some yourself. Sometimes closing a deal simply depends on better understanding the needs of your prospect, or showing them the needs they didn’t even realize they had.
- Don’t forget to follow up! A customer who wasn’t quite ready to buy in the past may decide the time is right when you send a friendly reminder. Check up on current customers, too, and give them a reason to continue buying from you.
There’s a lot of science behind a strong sales process, but you can always find room for a little art, too. That’s where your instincts, experience, and personality come in. No matter how well you plan, you’re still going to encounter unexpected challenges. It’s your skill as a salesperson that allows you navigate those challenges, and keep your sales process running at peak efficiency.