What is a sales process?
A sales process, also known as a sales cycle, is a repeatable procedure undertaken by a business to secure prospective customers. Sales processes involve a fixed series of steps with the ultimate goal of converting a lead into a closed deal. Few individuals actually stick to a structured sales process, particularly not when it becomes tedious. Nevertheless, defining a proper sales process goes a long way in boosting sales performance and reducing time/resource wastage.
Let’s first delve into two different categories of marketing:
B2B and B2C sales are similar in that both require proper customer relationship management (CRM). In both cases, for starters, sustained engagement with customers should be maintained, but the ways in which you carry this out are not the same. Here’s a brief chart highlighting the differences between the two types of sales:
In general, an effective sales process can be marked by seven steps as follows:
The very first stage in making sales requires research and preparation in identifying potential customers. Depending on what you sell, you will have to narrow in on the pool of buyers most likely to take interest in your product or service. To do this, you can create a chart listing out customer demographics, such as the target age, gender and occupation.
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and brainstorm ways to appeal to them. Be very familiar with what you are selling and know your competitors well too, so you can figure out how to stand out from the rest.
This next step happens once you’ve managed to generate leads. A lead refers to a customer who likely fits your target demographic and has expressed interest in your product/service, such as through signing up to create an account with your platform. Qualifying your leads means gathering more details about them and determining how far their interest lies.
Once it is more or less affirmed that the lead is keen on making a purchase, this turns them into a prospect. From there, the prospect is carried into the next stage of the sales process.
Start building rapport with your prospects! Begin with simple introductions, warm them up to making conversation, and provide greater elaboration about the product or service you are providing. Prompt them to ask questions as well so you can find out where their needs lie. Making a good first impression matters if you want to gain their trust, so remember to stay friendly, genuine and professional!
Once you have a better understanding of your prospects’ interests and a relationship has been established, proceed to present what you are selling. Try to relate the service/product to the client to drive engagement and create a meaningful need for it. It may also help to try cross selling to other related products/services that might enhance the value or effectiveness of the item they are interested in.
(Disclaimer: It helps to read the room. Don’t press prospects to purchase irrelevant items, or anything more than they want to. There’s a fine line between cross selling and hard selling!)
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that you might be met with some hesitation or objections in your sales process. In fact, you should have already identified potential resistance in the first stage of research and preparation.
Instead of viewing it as a problem, take this chance to get to know your prospects’ concerns better and propose possible solutions to help tackle them. Share the objections raised with your marketing team and work together to overcome them. Letting your clients know that you take their concerns seriously is another way to boost your credibility in CRM.
After all the above have been handled, it’s time to close the deal. This step involves entering into final negotiations or payment procedures which benefit both ends, establishing the terms and conditions, as well as ensuring your product/service is successfully delivered.
A sales process doesn’t just end once you seal the purchase! Keeping in touch with your clients and maintaining a good relationship can contribute to further deals and customer references. Make sure you keep a record of your customer contact information and continue to connect with and engage them through newsletters, promotional updates and social media.
Now that you have a clearer idea of how to execute a sales process, it’s also important to be aware of possible mistakes that could turn prospective clients away and destroy the foundations of your CRM.
In doing so, you also have to factor in both the benefits and potential pitfalls. If this guide has helped you, feel free to share it with your team to start maximising sales!
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