The Importance of a Proper Sales Process
A deal isn’t done in a day, which is why a strategically thought-out sales process is something all businesses should consider – No matter what industry or what product. The unprecedented period we find ourselves in has left some businesses within the agricultural sector with considerably less work on their hands and more time to reflect.
If you find yourself in this situation, then we urge you to do something positive – Find time to work on the processes within your business. That way, you’ll come out of lockdown with a sense of achievement and a clear focus.
If you’ve got a successful marketing plan in place, then you should have a bucket full of prospect clients just dying to get in contact with you. That’s great, but what happens next? How are you going to turn those prospects into paying customers? The sales process cannot adhere to a one size fits all approach, it’s integral that you have a clear plan of action that works for your business and your employees.
Sales pro Lori Richardson often uses the phrase:
“Never confuse activity with accomplishment”.
You can be as busy as you like, but did you get anything important done? Did you fix that leaky bucket? If not, then your process must change.
The Sales Funnel
As described by Ryan Deiss, founder and CEO of the DigitalMarketer, the sales funnel below depicts a multi-step and multi-modality process that moves prospective browsers into buyers. How this funnel is executed will depend on the business and the product or service being sold, but it’s important to set timeframes for each phase so you can offer the same standard of service to each and every potential customer.
More often than not, the top of the sales funnel is the part that people forget about most. Don’t ignore your suspects! These are people who have actively shown an interest in your business. It’s quite possible that these could turn into your next sale. According to Hubspot more than 40% of sales people say the prospecting phase is the hardest one of all – And that’s simply because the company does not try to initiate a relationship with the prospect.
Send that person who followed your company twitter page a direct message to thank them, invite them to your next event or add them to your newsletter. Keep them updated! This way, you’ll maintain interest and they might even turn into a lead.
Up to 50% of prospects are not a good fit for your business, so it’s essential to qualify your leads quickly. Don’t spend hours on the end of the phone to someone who just doesn’t fit your criteria. Ensure you have some key questions to ask and make that initial call – If they don’t fit, BIN THEM QUICKLY! You’ll be a much more effective salesperson in the long run.
Peter Drucker so wisely commented, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. So, make sure you know where your leads are coming from. Your marketing team will thank you and so will your boss! This will help to identify what marketing methods are working and providing the most quality leads.
And if you don’t know Peter Drucker, you should – he’s known as the man who invented modern business management!
There’s a whole array of methods you can use to do this, with multiple customer relationship management (CRM) systems on the market, but even a simple spreadsheet can help to monitor exactly where sales are coming from overtime.
Once you’ve qualified a lead, then make sure you spend time to actually get to know the customer. Constantly thinking SELL, SELL, SELL might mean you get a bigger bonus at the end of the month, but you might find those customers do not come back. Get to know the needs of the customer to see if you can really help them. If you can, great! Sell yourself. Show the prospect exactly why they should choose you over someone else – Don’t forget at this stage the prospect is highly likely to be shopping around. So, sell yourself but DON’T OVER PROMISE!
Once you’ve reached the stage where you can send across your proposal or quotation, make sure you don’t use a templated email which is impersonal and meaningless. Show the prospect how you could really help them and their business. This will really help to build a better relationship. Don’t forget that if you promised to get that quotation across in the next week, make sure you do it!
Did your prospect decide not to go with your service? Don’t be afraid to get feedback to identify if there is anything you need to do differently in the future.
The negotiation phase is one where it’s easy to get consumed by the prospect of a sale – But it’s important not to drop your price at the first sign of disinterest. If you truly value your product or service then you should be able to justify the price you’ve quoted.
You’re nearly there! But don’t sit back and relax just yet because you’ve started to build a relationship with this potential customer. It’s important to keep looking for ways you could help the client. Not only does this provide more opportunities to upsell but it builds trust that you understand your job and their business.
Congratulations! You got the sale. Did you get it in writing? This is an element which is so often forgotten. However, it could just come back to bite you, so make sure you have records of all of your sales just in case you might need them.
You might be thinking your job is done, but this is just the beginning of your relationship with your new client. Keep to what you promised, and regularly re-evaluate the opportunities or services necessary for your client.
A process within businesses of all sizes is essential to ensure clients receive a good quality of service and you and your employees are doing your job properly. Our biggest word of advice is to put these in place before you get too big! They can always be reviewed and amended.
“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you are doing”
To listen to Hillsgreen’s Managing Director Andy Venables discuss this in more detail, then listen to the recording of our latest Rural Roundtable discussion below.