Do You Have a Sales Process?
Traffic circles are common in Latin America. The drivers there play a game called “What’s my lane?” As you speed around the traffic circle you have to guess what, if any lane, the other drivers are going to take. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason. If you hesitate, you’re screwed. Does that sound a bit like your company’s sales process?
Does your company have as many sales processes as salespeople? Do you know how your salespeople sell? Are you making assumptions that are costing you sales and profits? Often we think that our salespeople are doing things by the book when in fact many of them are winging it. I don’t have a problem with individuality or a little deviation. You give them the sheet music and they play it their way. That’s OK. The problem comes when they discard the sheet music entirely in favor of their own compositions.
Sales success comes when salespeople practice certain activities and behaviors consistently. There is no magic dust and not everyone will buy regardless of how good your process is. However your people will sell more if they use a systematic approach that’s been proven to work in your type of business.
How do you create a sales process for your team? It’s not that difficult. Begin by putting your salespeople in a room for half a day or even a full day, if needs be. Let them know that you want to formalize how the company sells. Tell them that they’re the experts and you want to brainstorm their best sales practices. At first keep it big picture. Use an old fashioned white board or lots of large “Post-it” type flip charts and put the steps on the wall as you define them. You’ll wind up with anywhere from five to ten steps depending on the company and the salespeople. Be patient and have fun.
A typical process might contain the following macro steps:
- Research: Who are your customers?
- Planning: How are you going to approach them?
- The sales call: This may be one call or multiple calls. Lay out the steps. I favor some kind of consultative selling system … Introduction, agreement on the steps, discovery, money step, contract, etc.
- Delivery of the agreed product or service.
- Follow-up: Make sure everything is satisfactory, get referrals.
When you have all the big picture steps in place, expand each of them into micro steps. The more detail, the better the process will work. For example take the sales call. This should be a fairly typical kind of call that most of your salespeople identify with. Your steps might include the following:
- Initial approach/greeting
- Getting the appointment
- Establishing rapport
- Qualify or disqualify
When you have agreement on the micro steps, expand each of them into even more steps. Ask lots of questions to get the best practices:
- What’s the best way to position the company to the customer?
- What message do they need to send?
- What kind of image is important?
- How do they establish an agenda for the call?
- What should the customer expect?
- When is it appropriate to do a product presentation?
- How much preparation is necessary?
OK, this is a lot of work but you only have to do it once. Not only will you have a solid sales process, you’ll have buy-in from your salespeople. They’re more likely to use it because they designed it!
Oliver Connolly coaches and mentors a limited number of sales managers and VPs of Sales every year. For more information about how he can help you with your sales management challenges, please go to http://www.clevelstrategic.com