Developing & Implementing Your Sales Process & Selling Strategies
3. The Sales Process
Your sales model - Order Taker, Soft Sell or Problem Solver - has implications for your sales organisation, sales structure, selling skills, systems, resources, sales cycle, and not least your selling process - the more complicated and higher value your solution the longer your sales cycle and the more complex your sales process.
All successful sales programmes go through four phases –
· Initial Contact
· Understanding Needs
· Matching Capability
· Closing the Sale
For the Order Taker the steps in your sales process will pretty much match the four phases of a sale. However, for Soft Sell and Problem Solver your selling process will be more complex, involving multiple iterations and more people in the decision process.
A generic sales process might include the following steps:
- Prospecting – researching, identifying and pre-approach planning
- Need Assessment
- Solution Presentation
- Objection Handling
- Closing the Sale
For the Soft Sell several of these may be merged into a single step while for a Problem Solver there may be several iterations of a single step – e.g. several meetings with different people, or a need assessment which may require months of investigation and the preparation of a valuable insight.
Develop your sales process to reflect your sales model, target customer, and your solution type, value and complexity. In addition each of the steps to be effective, requires the appropriate resources people, systems and sales aids, for example Prospecting:
- Ideal Customer Profile, Market Research, Target Customer Analysis (Qualification Criteria, Contacts, Current Systems, Potential Issues, Financial Analysis), Value Proposition, etc.
Once you have established and documented your sales process steps and the resources required at each step you can develop your sales playbook - what resources to use when and how to apply them, calls to action and next steps for sales, marketing and support - matching your activities to the customer's buying cycle.
Of course you will not be starting from a clean sheet, so to get your sales programmes up to standard you will need to confirm your existing process, and review existing resources to identify short comings and missing tools.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- ‘Does your sales process, have the individual steps, sales tools, sales planning and associated sales skills, with the right checks and balances to meet the sales scenario / model you are faced with?’,
- ‘Do your sales teams understand your sales model and its implications for their behaviour?
- 'Do they understand your sales process, your sales tools and resources and how to apply them to the four phases of a sale?’
The next stage is developing your sales strategy to match to the customer’s buying cycle - but more of that later!