Developing & Implementing Your Sales Process & Selling Strategies
Understanding Your Sales Model
Before you can develop your sales process, or to understand if your sales process is fit for purpose you first have to understand your sales model.
Your sales model dictates the steps in your sales process and influences selling skills (and therefor sales training programmes), sales cycle, sales tools, reward systems, sales team structure and resources – pre and post-sale support and IT systems - and customer services.
Principles of Selling identifies four types of sales model: - 1. Order Taker, 2. Soft Sell, 3. Problem Solver. 4. Hard Sell.
The Order Taker-
- Low value / commodity type sales where the product delivered has no strategic value, a quick and easy to use buying process, low prices and quick delivery – buying criteria.
- The sales cycle will be short with the sales conversation often taking place over the telephone and the sales team working on a one to one basis with the client.
- The product portfolio will be of many standard products and their variations. IT support systems are on-line product listings and price lists enabling the processing of orders easily.
- Sales skills - telephone skills, ability to use IT systems to process orders, and able to translate customer needs into standard product offerings.
The Soft Sell-
- For medium value solutions – often an addition to an existing system or a localised departmental solution with limited but some strategic value.
- The sales cycle from initial contact through to completing the sale is likely to be several weeks or months. There will be several face to face meetings often with decision influencers and there may be a buying committee for higher value solutions.
- The sales team is unlikely to involve more than 1 sales person but may involve pre-sales support (product specialists). Post sale and implementation support may also be required.
- The product delivered, whilst based on a small number of standard offerings may be tailored to the specific customer. The sales process may involve solution presentations, a sales proposal and contract negotiations. IT support systems will include a CRM system to help manage the sales process.
- Sales skills will be good personal selling skills, relationship building, presentation skills, etc. The ability to manage a longer sales cycle and manage the resources available to win the sale. Good understanding of how the offering impacts the customer’s business operations.
The Problem Solver-
- Is for high value, often complex solutions with enterprise wide strategic implications.
- The sales cycle will be many months and may extend beyond one year! There will be many face to face meetings with members of the decision team, senior management, end users and specialists – possibly including external consultants. Because of the high value and importance of the solution final sign-off may be in the hands of a Managing Director / CEO.
- The sales team is likely to involve several sales people – product and solution specialists, plus pre-sale technical support resources and may involve senior management. The Sales Process will involve many steps and iterations – meetings, data collection, needs assessment, presentations, proposals, and contract negotiations, it will require a wide range of sales support tools. There will be a requirement for on-going post-sales support including training and implementation and on-going progress reviews and project management.
- The solution delivered will be highly complex and may involve test / trail systems and a long-term stage by stage implementation. Whilst the solution may be based on standard offerings it is likely to involve significant tailoring and system integration possibly with products from multiple suppliers. Competition from other solution providers is likely to be intense. IT support systems will include a CRM system, and proposal development and management systems
- Sales skills will reflect the complexity and value of the solution. Good relationship building skills including the ability to be able to relate to very senior management, good business skills (ability to understand the customer’s business, business environment, identify issues and opportunities and possibly deliver a value add insight). Able to manage a team of multiple sales people and support specialists and manage a complex extended sales process and all the available resources. Able to manage the competitive situation and develop a winning sales strategy. The sales reward system will reflect the quality of sales person, whilst the company’s business model must allow for the impact of long sales cycles on cash flow.
- A negative version of the Problem Solver is the Customer’s Friend – this person spends a lot of time building relationships, providing information etc. but does not focus on solving customer problems and therefor does not deliver a solution. This simply uses valuable resources, does not help the customer and does not provide revenue for the company.
The Hard Sell-
This is the negative version of the Order Taker. No (or limited) concern for the customer and only interested in the sale. Products may not meet customer requirements - the result is an unhappy customer, damage to company’s reputation, loss of future sales, and the company having to deal with a problem situation. its reputation suffers and costs soar. Most companies do not want to implement this model - but should be aware of salesperson behaviour to avoid this situation.
Be sure you understand the implications of your sales model before you design and implement your sales process, sales infrastructure and sales training programmes!