Defining a Sales ProcessIn simple terms, a sales process is a systematic approach involving a series of steps that enables a sales force to close more deals, increase margins and make more sales through referrals.
The 'series of steps' are customer-centric and help the sales force of a company to retain customers and increase sales volume as well as revenues. The 'series of steps' are systematic and not haphazard. Random acts produce random and uncertain results. In sales, random acts can be used occasionally, but a systematic and well-defined best practices approach can assure predictable results.
The establishment and implementation of a sales process with definable steps in a company could result in:
- Predictable Outcomes - desired and predictable outcomes through a series of actions that could lead to more sales and higher margins.
- Repeatable Activities - activities that should be repeated to obtain the desired outcomes again and again by any salesperson within the organization
- Tangible Results - the outcomes that can be measured and compared
- Relevancy for Others - A good sales process may be cloned to suit other organizations and they may emulate a successful sales process model. A group of companies may apply a particularly productive sales process to all or some of its divisions.
Normally a sales process involves the following key steps:
- Handling Objections
- Follow-up for repeat business - referrals
Characteristics of an Effective Sales ProcessAny ordinary sales process may produce the desired results in normal times. But an effective sales process has elasticity to accommodate extra ordinary situations. Is your company prepared to meet a sudden spike in demand for your products or services?
Does your sales process have the elasticity to deal with fluctuations in customer buying trends? Is your customer database current and up-to-date? Does your sales process take in to account the change in buyer tastes and preferences?
Effective sales processes stand the rigors of changing times and market conditions and produce the best possible results in most circumstances. An effective sales process produces sales results with unerring precision as a manufacturing unit produces finished products. An effective sales process manufactures customers. It's a 'customer manufacturing system'. Isn't that an awesome productivity tool for any company to own?
Just as a manufacturing unit uses raw materials, strategy, technology, and manpower to produce finished goods, a sales process can be viewed as an integrated method where manpower refers to the sales force, the product or service is the raw material, strategy refers to sales plans and methods, and technology refers to the latest communication and sales technologies.
A results oriented sales process accomplishes the following tasks:
- Identifying and qualifying leads so as to take in to account only those prospects that truly have the potential to buy according to their importance to assign the right resources to each of them. Successful salespeople spend more time with their top revenue producing accounts.
- Impress the customer with the uniqueness of the product/service and your company
- Talk about the 'need' of the customer and develop customized value propositions to solve their business issue.
- Convince the customer that your company is the one that can take care of the 'need' and none can do it better than you.
- Assess the purchasing power of each potential customer
- Larger percentage of profitable sales.
- Forge stronger bonds between the company and the customers through the sales staff.
- Exploring the possibility of up selling and repeat business. Ensure repeat business through adequate customer satisfaction and proper follow up. It costs five to eight times more to acquire a new customer than selling to an existing customer. (Source: Personal Selling Power Magazine)