The sales process is a combination of reproducible and repeatable steps that any sales team can formulate and follow in order to convert a prospect into a substantial customer. Having an organized set of sales processes is necessary for the sales team so that they can get sales to achieve their targets.
The most important thing to be done as a sales manager is the standardization of the steps so that everyone from the sales team can follow the sales process and there would be uniformity.
The primary objective of chalking out a sales process is to achieve and exceed sales targets. Another objective of the sales process is to equip the sales team with the necessary knowledge to convert the customer. Formulating a sales process varies from industry to industry but here are general steps :
1: Objective development
Since sales are the revenue generator for the organization, the very obvious objective for a sales team would be to achieve sales targets. Having a proper quantifiable objective for the sales team helps them to plan the rest of the year.
The objective should be achievable and time-bound rather than being unrealistic and unachievable. In most of the organizations, the objective is set by the higher management which is circulated to the sales team according to the sales process. Once the objective is in place it is to be divided amongst the team on an individual level so that every salesperson has his own target to work on.
2: Understanding the Business model
The next step would be to understand the working model of the business in the sales process. Every business is carried out in a different way hence the approachability to the customers will be different in different industries. In some cases, customers are the ones who walk into the salesperson while in other cases, it is the salesperson who goes to the customer’s place.
The nature of the product, the nature of the customer, industry and the objective should be in sync with each other. It is very essential that everybody on the team has understood the objective and are on the same page in accordance with it. Once the business model is understood then the salesperson can proceed individually with the following steps of the sales process:
3: Prospecting in the Sales Process
The salesperson person works on all the prospects that he has been given. at times the salesperson may visit different customers by walk-ins or cold calling to segregate the leads into prospects according to the sales process. There could be a lot of leads who would never be customers and it is essential that the salesperson separates these non-customers from the prospects and focus on the prospects rather than wasting visits on the non-customers.
4: Understanding Client background
Once the salesperson has a confirmed prospect list, he can start approaching them one by one according to the sales process. before approaching the customers, it is necessary that the salesperson studies the history of the customer. Things like usage of the customer, the potential, competitive products used by the customer, his preferences, liking and disliking; all of these should be known by the salesperson to position his product properly. The usage pattern of the customer in the sales process also tells the salesperson about the probable business the customer can give.
5: Consumer Approach in the Sales Cycle
The salesperson now approaches the customer at a pre-decided time. The approach should be formal and the salesperson should ensure that he carries all the necessary to is Sales-aid, brochures, information leaflets and everything else that would be necessary for the discussion with the customer.
The salesperson introduces himself to the customer and after a small talk opens the discussion by starting to talk about his product. The salesperson asks all the necessary questions to the customer about us current usage to confirm his customer history.
The salesperson discusses all the possible pros and cons of the product. The salesperson uses all the necessary tools, provided by the organization in the sales process, which are used for the conversion of the customer. The salesperson should also form SMART objectives for converting the customer. In the case of businesses where customer approaches the salesperson or the organization, the same process should be followed.
6: Overcome Resistance and Handle Objections
Further to the discussion of the salesperson and the customer, the customer may put forth some objections or queries or doubts to the salesperson. The objections could be about the features, the benefits, the pricing or any other aspect of the product.
Presence of competition would also be an objection to the salesperson and he should ensure that all the objections are handled correctly at his end as mentioned in the sales process. Salesperson notes down all the objections by the customer and addresses them one by one.
If need be the salesperson contacts the organization and sets up a meeting with the product manager who is required to answer all the customer objections if the salesperson is unable to answer them. The salesperson should ensure the clarification of doubts by following up with the customer. Once the objections are handled then the salesperson proceeds to the negotiation step of the sales process.
7: Negotiation in the Sales Process
This is a very important step in the entire sales process as the deal can either break or close at this step. Most often than not, the negotiation is with respect to the pricing of the product. The objective of the customer is to get the product at the lowest possible price while that of the salesperson would be to get as much profit as possible out of the deal.
The organization provides a minimum value which can be negotiated with the customer and below which, the sale cannot be done. This value safeguards the minimum expected profits per product.
8: Closing in the Sales Process
As the negotiation phases complete, the deal is closed. If the negotiation turns out to be positive, the sale is realized and if the negotiation turns out to be negative the customer is lost and the deal is closed. In the former case, it is the duty of the salesperson to follow up with the customer in accordance with the sales process to provide after-sales service while in the latter case the salesperson can focus on other customers.
9: After Sales Service
This is a very important part of a sales process which will ensure if the customer will make a repeat purchase or not. The step to determine whether the customer is going to be a regular customer or a one-time customer.
Customer may face hindrances or problems during usage of the product and at this time, is it is crucial that the salesperson supports the customer with after-sales service and if necessary, by connecting him with the customer service team.
10: Evaluating the sales process
Feedback is taken from the salesperson about the sales process which is implemented in the market. No process is perfect in every process needs improvisation from time to time. The salespeople will be the best source to check the success of the process.
Alternatively, the organization can also look into the sales numbers which will give a clear idea of whether the process is a success or not. Changes if necessary, are to be done immediately and the sales team is to be upgraded on priority.
Importance of Sales Process and Sales Cycle
- The sales process acts as a guide to the sales team. when in doubt the team can refer to the procedure and follow the steps accordingly. The sales process is also useful to train new salespeople in the team.
- A good sales process helps the sales teams to tackle all kinds of customers and achieve their targets. This ultimately benefits the organization in terms of profitability.
- Standardizing a sales process helps in proper implementation in the market. Who customers the sales representative is the face of the company and if the salesperson is not trained properly and professionally, it represents the organization very poorly.
- The management can take feedback from any salesperson. Since the process is uniform everywhere, the management and the sales team can speak in one language which makes it easier for both of them to understand at what step they are and at what future are they looking at. Sales forecast become easier because of the predictable outcome from a standardized sales process.