A Sales Process is a structured route for the salesperson to get from Point A (a customer is just a gleam in the salesperson’s eyes) to Point B (a sales has been made). For sales to succeed a repeatable and logical set of steps need to be taken. Otherwise, the salesperson and sales manager are relying on luck and we all know how that works.
Sales processes of course could be flexible; however, not having one is a first step to oblivion and not following one is arrogant, lazy and foolish. Customers have their own buying process and that needs to be respected and understood. However, merely and blindly following the customer’s process is a ticket to not realizing that serious customers will not buy unless a series of triggers and events are satisfied, which is the seller’s job.
Here is a high-level sales process cheat sheet:
Sales processes are typically depicted as a funnel with logical steps following one another or more recently as a flywheel or a circle. The idea behind the former is that one step follows another and it is logical to follow the steps from left to right. The idea behind the latter is that the process is repeatable and moreover customer is not dropped into a vacuum at the conclusion of the sale and account manager, customer success, cross-sell and up-sell follow. Both depictions have advantages and disadvantages. They both work. What does not work is not having a sales process.
Points for more detail:
- Prospecting: Includes calling, e-mailing, LinkedIn, advertising, marketing events, referrals from existing customers and even inbound leads that would be assessed as qualified.
- Qualification: Speaking of which, what is the problem that leads itself to your solution, who is responsible and is there a budget to do this?
- Development: In-depth discovery of the situation and lay of the land. Is there an alignment between problem and your solution? If yes, time to have a mutual plan to move forward.
- Presentation: An already discussed and semi-validated solution is presented. In-depth discussion about details ensues.
- Discussion: Problems, objections and roadblocks are discussed and removed. Depending on the level of complexity and product/service legal, licensing and post-sale services teams are engaged.
- Closing: Negotiation and paperwork. Signatures on contracts required.
- Account Management: Delivering on promises and contractual obligations, exchange of funds and execution on promises/obligations.
*Things That Need to Go Away: Salespersons who skip steps thinking they got this.