What exactly is a sales process and how is it different from a sales methodology? Which do you need to focus on to get the best results?
In its simplest form, a systemized sales process is a repeatable set of steps followed by sellers to guide their prospects through each stage of the buyer journey. An effective and well-thought-out sales process starts well before reaching out to a lead. The concept continues all throughout your interaction, including closing deals on behalf of your company then following up afterwards to continue building the relationship and expanding your footprint with the client.
How is this different from a sales methodology?
Sales methodologies are the guiding principles in deciding how to implement the sales process. The methodology drives the process and in doing so improves sales effectiveness and helps in the development of selling skills.
For example, consultative selling focuses on the consultation aspect of closing deals by asking the right questions and discussing solutions that will work best for your client based off their needs at hand before you even start marketing your offer in order create an opportunity ecosystem where new business can thrive.
As we can see, both of these concepts can, in theory, stand on their own. However, in order to increase average deal size and lifetime value of a client, the two must be developed and implemented together so that they work hand in hand to optimize ROI. Here at The Brooks Group, many of our clients have sales methodologies in place. But these methodologies are only marginally effective because they lack a step-by-step process that guarantees organization-wide adoption and implementation. It’s like investing in premium fuel in the tank but not having a roadmap to figure out where you are going. The result? Lots of aimless wandering.
A well-structured, sequentially delivered sales process is the key to an effective and efficient customer journey that will increase their lifetime value. The process doesn’t have to be overly complicated, but it needs to include the following:
The first step in the process begins well before the first meeting with a lead. To ensure that your seller is seen as an expert and strategic resource, they should do thorough research and investigation on their potential customers. This includes knowing about company news within the industry or market in order to show up at a conversation already knowledgeable enough for any question asked during the discovery sessions with clients. This type of pre-call planning and preparation can give you an edge over other companies who don’t invest time into learning all there is to know about the customer and the current economic issues they may be facing.
Determining Buyer Communication Style
While being knowledgeable about your potential client’s business and their possible needs is vital, it is no longer enough. Your sellers need to be able to quickly identify a buyer’s communication style so that they can adapt their own communication and effectively build trust with the client. Does the buyer prefer small talk or do they get straight down to business? Do they like knowing all of the intricate details or are they more comfortable with bigger picture information to inform their decision making? Knowing the answers to these types of questions, and figuring it out quickly, will go a long way to building rapport and closing the deal.
If you’ve been in sales for a while, you know that it is often the case that your client is aware of a problem but does not always know the exact root of the problem. For example, they know that their manufacturing process could be more efficient, and they are having some issues with on time delivery. But they either aren’t sure of the root of the issue or they think it’s caused by one thing while really there are other issues at play. To get to the root of your customer’s challenges, you need a questioning strategy that your sales team will devote time and attention to. This can further your goal of having your reps seen as trusted partners rather than just another salesperson on a buyer’s calendar.
Recommendations & Proposal
When a salesperson has gathered all the necessary information, they can then present your product or service as being exactly right for their prospect’s needs. Unfortunately, salespeople often try to shorten this process by jumping ahead immediately into recommending something before asking the targeted questions and guiding buyers through decision-making steps. Following all of the steps in order is key toward your buyer feeling like they are making an informed choice based on the recommendation of a trusted partner.
An effective sales process that works to build your business over time does not stop once the rep marks the deal as ‘Closed/Won.’ In fact, it’s important for your sales team to have a detailed follow-up plan whether the deal was won or lost. This will help you build long term relationships, even from those that didn’t buy from you in the past, and increase the likelihood of closing more deals, which means higher revenue than if they abandon the client after the deal is closed.