25 Mar If You Need A Better Sales Process, Ask a Super-Seller!
Sales process? You just get out there and sell, right? It’s true that top salespeople make it seem that easy. Yet, if you dissect their game plan, you would likely find that they have a clearly defined process, one that helps guide their strategy and behavior.
A study of over two thousand top performing sales professionals revealed that not only does this group clearly articulate their sales process, they also tend to implement the corresponding behaviors better than their average counterparts, so much so that they report selling three to four times more than their peers. We call this group the “Super-Sellers”, representing the top ten percent of their peer groups. Overwhelmingly, this group subscribes to a consultative or solution selling process.
A sales process provides common language for all stakeholders and clearly links your business and market strategies to the implementation thereof. It outlines how and when you will engage in sales and business development efforts with new and existing customers and what happens at the various stages. Most importantly, it defines the expected behaviors that sales, service and business development professionals exhibit at each phase in order to reach desired outcomes, providing standards for measurement and self-evaluation.
Best Practices for Sales Process Implementation
If you want a better sales process, ask a Super-Seller. Here are some examples of what may be included in a sales process map and tips from Super-Sellers of best practices for implementation.
Territory Management – This defines how to identify opportunities in a territory, how to cultivate leads, manage accounts and where to most effectively spend precious sales time. This would typically involve determining the key players both internally and externally and when it is necessary to employ a team selling approach.
Tip from a Super-Seller – Prioritize sales activity by sales potential, not just by current sales volume. Treat all “A” potential with the same activity level, whether a current customer or not.
Pre-Call Planning – There are many salespeople who we refer to as professional visitors. They don’t seem to have a plan, they just make an appearance. You’re too busy for this and so are your customers. Before you make contact, you have considered the expected outcomes for both you and the customer by conducting pre-call research and setting call objectives. This also involves anticipating who can affect your objectives.
Tip from a Super Seller – Use a pre-call check sheet to determine what you know and what you don’t pertaining to the account, account influencers and your sales objective. Formulate questions to fill the gaps.
Opening the Call – It is during this phase that you build rapport, assess the behavioral style and communication styles of the customer and position the reason for your meeting in terms of value for each.
Tip from a Super-Seller – Use a customer profile to track the preferences of each customer. Use this information to build common interest and rapport before, during and after sales interactions. Adjust your approach based on the style of your customer. Anticipate behavioral styles by researching profiles on LinkedIn and other social media sites. What customers say about themselves reveals precious information about how to effectively interact. Read your customer’s mental map, or you are just sending information.
Uncovering Needs – Those who subscribe to a consultative sales process see themselves as advisers, seeking first to understand. They seek to understand their customer’s core business, their goals, vision and the motivation for each influencer.
Tip from a Super Seller – Don’t just be an order taker. Ask questions that reveal opportunities to help your customer improve their business, save them money, make them money or provide peace of mind.
Positioning Solutions – At this stage of the sales process, you are providing solutions based on the needs that you specifically discovered with the customer. You may provide a solution as each need is revealed, or develop a proposal and present a comprehensive solution to all needs.
Tip from a Super-Seller – Customers don’t care to know everything about what you do, only what’s important to them. Position solutions that add value according to the business impact and based on the personal motivation for each influencer. Uncovering customer needs is not a one-time activity, but is an ongoing process. Spend time with your customers, tour their facilities and ask good strategic questions.
Gaining Commitments – Here, you are making recommendations to move forward. Throughout the sales process, you should anticipate opportunities to gain commitments by recognizing buying signs and affirming decisions.
Tip from a Super-Seller – Gain commitments after you uncover needs and before you position solutions by asking something like, “If we can make this work, what is your process for moving forward?”
Overcoming Stalls and Objections – Anticipate the most common objections that you hear and develop answers based on the logic for each. Provide proof when customers are skeptical, show consequences for not moving forward when a customer is indifferent and quantify gains to overcome obstacles such as price.
Tip from a Super-Seller – Clarify stalls to reveal the real objection by asking open ended questions. For instance, if someone says, “Let me talk to my partner.” Clarify it by asking, “How do you think your partner will feel about this recommendation?”
Follow-Up – At this point you initiate any actions that were promised or implied. This may also include negotiating or enlisting internal resources for support and service.
Tip from a Super-Seller – Keep internal sales team members informed about your accounts and sales progress early on to help them most effectively provide ongoing support, solutions and service. Share customer profiles as a team to have a common language. Set team standards for internal and external communication.