“A real sales process is always the customer’s buying process.” – Geoffrey James (Money Watch)
If you are looking for a way to maximize growth in your business, then you need to create (or recreate) a sales cycle that works. A sales cycle will either be the lifeblood or the Achilles’ heel of your business. For this reason alone, it’s paramount that you create a sales cycle that works and learn how to maintain it to maximize its success.
So, whether or not you have a sales cycle in place already, start from the beginning:
- Examine What Works
The first step to creating a strong, working sales cycle is to examine your current sales cycle and determine what’s working for your business and what’s hurting your bottom line. Address each step meticulously and make the decision to keep what is working and throw out the rest. Continuing to use a faulty or malfunctioning sales cycle will mean stagnancy of your business, so don’t hold back: fine tune your process and start from the beginning, if you have to!
- Determine Customer Needs
Once your sales cycle is revised you’re ready to start fresh. At the heart of every successful sales step process is knowledge of your customer or client’s needs. Determining a customer’s need may vary; but a good rule of thumb is knowing what problem or obstacle your customer has – and offering a solution. Customers rarely buy into a business or product out of sheer interest; instead, they buy whatever it is that is solving a problem for them. Helping your customers or clients decipher what their problem is, and then showing them the value of your solution, is a sure-fire way to start your sales step process on the right foot.
- Ask yourself these questions:
- What is it about your client’s problem that’s keeping them up at night?
- Who would your clients imagine themselves to be if they had the solution you’re offering?
- What are your clients missing out on by not having your solution in hand?
- Ask yourself these questions:
These types of questions will help you hone in on the emotional aspects of your clients’ pain points. Pain points are like bruises; sometimes we don’t even know we have a bruise until someone presses on it! Try to figure out exactly how to “press” your clients to make them realize they need your solution.
- Outline Your System
Listed below is an example of a standard working sales step process from start to finish. Not all sales step processes are created equal and this is not a one-size-fits-all process! Find what works for your business and which process will best assist your business in being successful.
- Qualify Prospect/Make Contact: This is the first step in the sales step process. This step is critical because it allows you to determine if the prospect is both an ideal candidate and an interested candidate in the product or service your business is offering.
- Present: This step is absolutely critical. No matter where you place this step in the sales step process, be sure to knock this one out of the park. Whether you or a sales team member are presenting, ensure you put your best foot forward and give the best presentation possible. Every time. One of the greatest mistakes you can make is presenting from the selling position. Therefore, find your prospect’s need and appeal to them as a buyer rather than as a seller. Deciphering their need (in detail) beforehand means an increased chance of meeting that need in the long run – and meeting that need should be your ultimate goal.
- Client has proposal: At this point in the sales step process the prospect should have a strong grasp on what their “problem” is, should have a solid understanding of what you are offering and at what value, and should be in the position to make a decision regarding whether or not they are going to buy into your business, product, service, etc.
- In Negotiation / Getting Approval: Expect that some prospects will push back on price. When this occurs you may need to negotiate in order to encourage prospect buy-in. Do what makes the most sense for your business without sacrificing your value or your reputation and always know when to walk away from a bad deal.
- Won the Business: Congratulations! Your prospect is officially a customer or client of your business. Your sales process has succeeded and it’s officially time to celebrate!
- Create an SLA
After defining your sales process, sit down with your sales team and create an SLA. SLA stands for Service Level Agreement and is essentially an agreement between sales professionals and their teams that states how incoming leads (prospects) will be handled and in what manner. Your SLA should be placed in an area where those who handle leads can see it regularly. There are two crucial elements to each SLA: The length of time acceptable before contacting new leads, and the amount of time leads will be contacted thereafter before being marked closed. Below is an example:
- Length of Time: New prospects to be contacted within 20 minutes of being received.
- Number of contacts: New prospects must be contacted 10 times within 10 days before being marked as closed.
- Meet Needs Accordingly
You will likely need to make adjustments here and there to confirm that you are meeting the needs of your prospect accordingly. Pay attention to what works in your sales cycle and what doesn’t. Continue fine-tuning until you have determined the absolute best sales cycle for your business. When you are confident you’ll meet the needs of your prospects, you know you’ve found the sales cycle that works best for your business.
- Take Care After Closing
So your sales cycle worked and you’ve won the business – but your job doesn’t stop there. Make sure to take exceptional care of your customer or client after they buy in to your business, too. Your sales system should relay both your excitement and the value you place in your new customer or client. People want to feel valued. Going the extra mile on your end may even encourage referrals on their end!
Want to know more about how to get these new clients to refer? Read our blog post here.