Don't Wing the Sales Process, Perfect It
Recently I met with a company that asked me what I meant by a sales process. The question started me thinking about whether salespeople in general had a process they used or whether their process was PFTA (plucked from thin air).
Sales and Marketing Magazine reports that 2 percent of high performing sales organizations have a nonexistent sales process; 26 percent of high performing sales organizations have an informal process; 22 percent of high performing sales organizations have a well-documented sales process; and 50 percent of high performing sales organizations have a closely monitored, strictly enforced sales process. By contrast, only 28 percent of underperforming sales organizations have a closely monitored, strictly enforced sales process and 72 percent of underperforming sales organizations have a weak sales process.
In addition, high performing organizations rank disciplined sales processes and systems usage as the second most important factor, separating great from good sales organizations. My point is this, both in terms of actual results and in the perception of high performing salespeople: A disciplined sales process is important to salespeople’s success.
So the sales process starts with developing a prospect list. How do you develop it? There is a best practice for developing a prospect list. Do you have the best process or do you have any process at all? If you don’t, then talk to your manager or the best salesperson in your organization and get their process.
Every step of the sales process has a “best practice.” Your phone approach to get the initial appointment or your cold call in person to get the appointment is a process — a small part of the whole sales process. To improve your process or get one in the first place, you must go through each step of the whole sales process and decide what your process is.
When we make the initial presentation of our product or service, we have a process. Is your process the best possible presentation of your product or service? Best by definition means only one. There cannot be two bests. So, to achieve the best results as a salesperson, you have to have a process and then you must try to make each part of the process the best it can possibly be.
Here are the areas you should examine by asking yourself two questions. First, “Do I have a process for this?” And second, “How do I make it better or the best process?”
The approach: How do I get the appointment?
Getting the initial meeting: How do I establish rapport? How do I find or create a need before I present my product or service? What questions should I ask to uncover these needs?
In the initial meeting: How do I best present my product or service? How do I ask interest-based questions to ensure the prospect’s involvement and attention? How do I explain features and benefits best?
How do I close for the sale? What is the best way to phrase the call for action on the prospect’s part? What is the best way to answer objections? Do I have the best answers?
Then there are all the little things. Was I enthusiastic? Did I use the prospect’s name? Did I mirror the prospect’s body language?
The greatest hitters in baseball watch films of each of their previous at bats. They do this because they want to improve their hitting process. Salespeople should accept the same challenge — to make our sales process the best.
So many salespeople have no process. They wing it. Those that do have a process rarely work diligently to improve it. Those that do will reap the rewards.