Gone are the days when sales was just about “how can we help you?” or “this is our product” with an affiliative smile.
With the upsurge in technology, the whole sales process has changed and has incredibly impacted both salespeople and buyers. It has made the world competitive for salespeople but has empowered the buyers and given them freedom.
No matter from which industry you belong, you have to follow basic strategies to close a deal. Jotting down a process can ensure that you are following a consistent method to transform leads into sales.
For instance, when you first meet a person, you don’t ask them to marry you (Unless you are Ross from FRIENDS).
First, you get to know the person and then understand them. Go out for some more time, and then you come into a relationship when you know it’s a match.
The sales process is the same!
That said, do you know about the sales cycle and how it can help your business?
Well, if you don’t know or know very little about it, I have done the raincheck for you. I have mentioned everything from scratch about the 7-step sales process with examples.
A sales process is a laydown of steps that a salesperson follows to take a prospective buyer from the initial stage to the last stage to close the deal.
In a nutshell, these are the magical steps that will convert a potential prospect into a client. It is like a roadmap you lay for your sales team to close the deals.
Your degree in sales can take you nowhere if you don’t know the sales cycle basics. Of course, implementing new ideas and innovations can enhance the whole process, but implementing all the basics will make all the difference.
According to a Harvard business review study in 2015, B2B companies that followed a formal sales cycle experienced a hype of 18% in their revenue.
There are various benefits of following a 7-step sales cycle, and I have mentioned some of them below:
Without having a clear vision right from prospecting to making a sale, it can lead to failure. With the absence of proper sales, structure prospects can turn down the most profitable deals.
A repeatable sales cycle gives your team a roadmap to win deals. Having an accurate sense of winning rate allows you to forecast how many sales you can close from a given number of leads at a particular time.
With a well-structured sales cycle, your sales team will effectively filter out the low-potential leads. They will identify the prospects who are willing to purchase the service/product. Investing time on high quality leads decreases the time and efforts wasted; it also shortens the sales cycle.
For a sales process to be successful, there are specific points that you have to focus on, and they are the following:
If the above elements are present in your sales process, there are higher chances of success.
Prospecting is the very first step of the sales process; therefore, don’t rush into it. Take your time and research the industry.
Prospecting involves researching sites or asking for a referral to those who might be interested in your product or services.
Don’t you have any idea of how you can research your sales industry?
Don’t worry; I have broken it down into three steps:
ICP is the acronym for Ideal Customer Profile. ICP is used to define the environmental, firmographic, and behavioral attributes of accounts that are anticipated to be the company’s most valuable customers. You can start by creating ICP as it can give you a focus point and know more about your ideal customer.
Once you are done with your ICP, you can jot down a database of potential leads that are more likely to convert.
Even though you have got a perfect ICP, you will still need to set a bar to qualify the leads. The key factors you can consider are:
Rest, if you want, you can add more qualifiers.
Now that you are done with all the filtering process, it’s time to reach out. You need to establish a good relationship with the customer.
You can reach out to the prospects by:
i) Going for the best method
You have to find out what is the best way to communicate with your prospect.
You need to know whether they are available on social media, or you can directly reach them via emails or calls. It can also be a face-to-face meeting.
There will be times when you will only have their address; in such cases, you have to connect with them via the old-school postcard method.
ii) Effective communication
Will you invest in something that is offered to you by a total stranger? Well, no one does! Therefore don’t try to make a sale on the first conversation.
Use the first conversation to introduce yourself and what you can offer them or how your services can benefit them. They say you only get one chance to create a compelling first good impression! Please don’t waste it because it is your only chance.
You can win the prospect’s heart by giving them a gift when you start interacting with them. Get the person interested in you by asking a relevant question. Give freebies like a sample or a free trial so that they can gauge your product or service.
It is the sales process step where you need to learn more about your prospect. You have to understand their challenges and goals. Also, make sure that during this process, you are reaching out to the decision-maker.
This step allows you to establish how your services can help them.
You must find out placing which product or service in front of the prospect will be the best.
For instance, you are a bespoke software provider. Let’s say your prospect is facing issues in generating online sales.
First, you have to know the neck-deep pain points and why it is happening.
Then you have to offer personalised feedback and tell them how you can help them. This step can improve the likelihood of closing the deal.
Now it’s time to prove to your prospect that only your services can help them. Make your point and educate your customers about the benefits, industry, and everyday challenges. While you are building the trust, you are trying to show your prospect that you are reliable.
During this process, you can find out prospects interested in your services and others who are not ready.
Till here, you were only focusing on the prospects. Now, as you are acquainted with them and learned about their needs, it’s time to make the best offer.
You have to keep your offer:
i) Relevant: So that they don’t feel it is something out of the blue.
ii) Targeted: You should only tailor them as per requirements.
iii) Personalized: They should know you are addressing their problems, not somebody else’s.
You can customise your offers based on the challenges, budget and long-term association.
It is doubtful to come across prospects who don’t have objections to your proposal. You have given an offer now the ball is in your prospects court. The most common complaints are the pricing, contract terms, deliverables, and the list can go on.
That is why handling objections have to be a full-fledged step in a sales process. You have to listen to the problems the prospects face and address them as soon as you can.
It is best to take the prospects on a call and then patiently justify and empathise with their concerns.
For instance, your prospect is having issues with the pricing. Break down the pricing for them and let them know why you are charging the particular amount and the services you will offer.
Dropping out of the process because of rejection will not help you succeed.
The point is that you have to handle the objections and get rid of prospective customers’ concerns. That is what differentiates a good salesperson from a bad one. You mustn’t give up in the face of adversity.
Once you have crossed all the hurdles, pat yourself on the back! You have done a fantastic job because it is tough to reach the final stage. In the closing phase, you will be at the final step of closing the deal. You will be sending a proposal of a quote and may need to negotiate a bit and get the necessary approvals from the decision makers of the client’s organization.
Not all closing attempts are successful and if it does fail, you can request your prospect for a referral or choose to engage with the prospect later on.
Does it mean that your work is done after closing the deal?
Simple answer: No.
Because you still need to follow up with your newly acquired customers.
Your newly turned customers can be beneficial to you. You have to follow up with those customers who have purchased your product or service, hoping for repeat business and referrals.
Reports say that retaining a customer is 6-7 times less costly than gaining a new one.
It directly means that having a friendly relationship with existing clients can go a long way in giving your sales a boost. You should focus on nurturing the customers by keeping them informed about your new products and services. Also, don’t forget to ask them for their valuable feedback from time to time.
Here is a 7-step sales process example for a B2B company:
After closing the deal:
With consumer behaviour and marketing algorithms changing with lightning speed, it is essential to adopt a 7-step sales process that helps you convert the leads.
The steps mentioned above are the basic ones that every sales process usually has. You are free to tailor them based on the nature of your product or service and your target audience. You can remove the ones that are not needed and get started with your process.
Moreover, you also have to take the technological advancement and increase customer awareness while preparing your template for sales reps to follow. It should be easy to understand and work on. You must not leave any room for confusion, or the result will not be as you had expected it to be.
With the right strategies and knowledge of the sales cycle, you can take your sales skyrocketing.