There are a ton of articles written about the sales process – this isn’t one of those articles. I’m not going to be recommending you get the next meeting on the calendar before you wrap up the current meeting nor am I going to be sharing advice on how to get a response from a cold email.
This article is about the sales process and how to design one that gets your prospects to say, “Wow! This company is different, and we have to work with them.”
In fact, that should be your goal. When your sales process is done, if your prospects aren’t saying, “We have to work with this company,” then your work isn’t done, and your sales process needs some of the upgrades we’ll be talking about below.
If installed properly, these upgrades are going to help you improve your ability to turn sales opportunities into new business, shorten your sales cycle and increase your close rate.
So many company leaders say they have a sales process, but when you ask to see it on paper, well, that’s a different story.
If you don’t have your sales process on paper, I’d argue you don’t have a sales process at all.
This is also the starting point for all sales execution-related upgrades. Put your sales process down on paper in a visual, flow-oriented format.
This sales process map should have ALL the touches associated with the sales process. That means all emails, all calls, all CRM updates, all content that needs to be deployed and the associated timing with all the touch points.
Want a little more on the sales process? Watch this episode of What’s Wrong With Revenue? where we go deep into sales process improvements that drive better sales results.
Once this is mapped out, you can start to track the conversion rates across the sales process and how each of these touch points is impacting the conversion rates.
This map can also be used to optimize the sales process over time. For example, this email at this point in the process isn’t producing the desired results, so let’s consider redoing it. Then deploy the new email and continue to track performance.
This is how you optimize sales execution and drive real improvements in the sales process.
Let’s be honest, we’ve all been on sales calls with sales reps where no additional value is added beyond the sales-related stuff.
If your goal is to create a remarkable experience during your sales process, then bringing in experts and running a three-legged sales call is going to add a lot of value.
The three legs are as follows:
A three-legged sales call means leveraging your internal team to deliver a rich, educational and multi-faceted experience during the sales process.
Find one meeting during the sales process where all three of these people contribute to understanding the prospect’s needs, asking smart, well-thought-out questions and sharing relevant stories that help the prospect understand how you do what you do and why you’re the best choice for them.
This is going to go a long way toward helping your prospects feel safe.
I’ve mentioned this in several recent articles, and we talked about it in the above section. Asking questions is the best way to get a prospect to open up and to share their issues, challenges, pains, thoughts, attitudes and opinions.
All this information, if collected and processed correctly, helps you understand their motivation and craft the perfect set of recommendations or solutions.
But perhaps more importantly, asking questions and getting them to talk about themselves helps people feel safe. When you care about them enough to ask good questions, they get a positive feeling about you, your reps, your company and your products/services. It’s brain chemistry. It’s validated by science, and it never fails.
One best practice is to build a library of questions and share these with the sales reps. Not every question is going to be relevant, and some prospects are going to need more questioning than others, but by sharing this collection, your reps are going to be more prepared to get prospects to feel safe. And by giving them the questions, you’ll be assured that everyone is asking the same questions during the sales process.
Want to really make an impression during the sales process? Want to truly bump up your close rate? Then start looking at how you can deliver educational content in context to each prospect’s specific needs, questions, concerns or issues.
What this really means is knowing their questions before they ask them and being prepared with content that answers those questions.
For example, when prospects have challenges getting their website to generate leads, we share this blog article.
When prospects express concerns about their current marketing not being very strategic, we share this resource.
When prospects ask about expected results, we have this story to share.
Delivering content in context to their issues, pains and challenges is how you get them to start trusting you.
People hate surprises, so there’s no reason to surprise prospects. Most companies go away, work up their proposal, recommendations or estimates and then spring them on the prospect.
This leads to conversations post-presentation around what needs to be tweaked to make the solution fit their specific needs. This should have been done already.
Instead of going away and working up the recommendations, put those together with input and collaboration from the prospect.
This step allows you to cover so many areas. Is the price right? If it’s too much, you can go in and scale back the program. Giving them the price early allows them to socialize the investment internally before the final presentation.
This step also allows them to see what you’re thinking and provide feedback so that you can make it exactly what they want or need.
When you get to the final presentation and you’re sharing your recommendations, it should be exactly what they want. They should have seen it before, be aware of the investment and simply be saying, “Yes, this is exactly what we need.”
This step alone can cut at least a week off your current sales cycle, and we’ve seen it improve the close rate by 10% or more. How could they say no? They worked with you to create the perfect set of recommendations.
Speaking of recommendations and that final presentation, one of the major mistakes salespeople make is turning this into an informational session.
These final recommendations presentations should be 90% about the prospect and only 10% about you. No need to go into your deep history. No need to talk about your expertise. No need to talk about how great your people are. They already know this about you, or you wouldn’t be in the room presenting.
This should be all about how you’re going to help them, what you’re going to do for them, what they should expect from working with you, the timing of those expected results and the return on the investment. That’s it. Anything else they want to know about you they can probably find on your website.
If you’re going to save them $1 million, tell them that on the first slide and then spend the rest of the time telling them how you intend to do that. This is going to get their attention and it’s going to keep them engaged.
Don’t make them sit through a presentation where you tell them all about your company again.
If you make these simple adjustments to your sales process, you’re going to convert more leads into sales opportunities. You’re going to turn more sales opportunities into new customers. You’re going to shorten your sales cycle and increase your close rate.
The result of these improvements is going to be a better sales process that is more scalable, more predictable, more repeatable and more effective at helping you hit your sales targets every single month.