One very important step in maximising results from your sales activities is to consider each of the steps, or contact points, that a prospect will experience with you during your initial contact and sales discussion.
This is your ‘sales process’
Just like a manufacturer has a process to take raw materials and create a finished product, you too should have a process for how to manage sales opportunities from start to finish.
For most businesses it is possible to define the most common path you will want to take when dealing with a prospect. That is, your prospects will most likely have similar needs, or have similar characteristics, and therefore you will manage them through the stages in the sales process in a similar way.
Creating your sales process
Follow these simple steps to outline your sales process and decide which resources you need to maximise success.
Step 1: Categorise your ‘typical’ prospects.
Decide on a common client profile. In other words, picture a typical prospect and how they would make their first contact with you (e.g. inbound phone call, website enquiry, networking event, outbound phone call from you).
For some businesses you may have a few different client profiles. That is, you serve more than one type of client or more than one industry sector. That is OK.
Step 2: Identify and write down the steps, or contact points, you need to have with the typical prospect to maximise your chance of a successful outcome.
When considering these contact points do not take the easy way out and simply list the bare minimum contact that your prospect may ask for – such as a phone call where they ‘ask for a brochure’. Be explicit and think through each contact point you need to have in your ideal sales situation. Sometimes this means inserting an opportunity to ask more questions at some point.
Step 3: Think about the documentation, marketing material, or what I call ‘sales tools’ you will need to effectively conduct each contact point that you have identified in Step 2.
Think about what you are trying to achieve at that point of communication with your prospect. Do you need basic service descriptions or product data? Do you need a case study to persuade the prospect? Do you need to present testimonials?
Also consider the various types of buying roles you will be meeting with, and have relevant material for them. For example an engineer will require different information from you than a Purchasing Manager will.
Step 4: Look for the gaps in the material you are now using as sales tools.
Do you have everything needed to successfully move your prospect through each step in your sales process?
By going through this process of creating your own sales process chart you will be able to identify potential holes, or gaps, that might prevent you from winning more sales.
You can also use the process to plan ahead for future sales conversations and be fully prepared with information as well as verbal responses to situations you think may occur during the discussion.
Image credit: Paul Stevenson