Every business has a sales process. Some have it documented and some don’t. In any case, determining how effective your sales process should be a constant undertaking to ensure you are building a strong brand.
A sales process is simply a series of steps that your brand follows to guide prospects from coming into contact with your brand right through a sale. This process begins with the prospect identifying a need for your product or service (or sometimes your brand proactively educating the prospect on such a need) and following the buyer’s journey – making sure your brand and positioning strategy funnels the prospect towards becoming your customer.
In this article we discuss how to document a sales process that explains each step your prospect should take, the knowledge the buyer needs at each step to move forward in the funnel, the education your brand should provide at each step and how to convert the prospect into a customer.
A business runs successfully when there are business systems in place and those systems are carefully documented. Small businesses, especially, tend not to have documented system. This may be because business systems are considered “behind the scenes” activities and unlike brand and marketing strategies or sales campaigns, good business systems are considered boring.
Here are some reasons why you should document your sales process:
S ell more effectively – A document sales process will help you or your sales team to sell more effectively. Instead of ad hoc decisions, you will be armed with a tried and tested series of steps that would result in success.
G enerate more accurate sales and revenue reports – Reports are basis of any successful sales campaign. Understanding what is happening with your sales gives you an insight into how to tweak your sales process and your campaigns.
I dentify which stages have bottlenecks – By documenting your sales process and analysing sales campaigns and sales reports, you can identify where your prospects are taking the longest to move forward and perhaps even dropping off the funnel completely.
M inimize the amount of time it takes for estimates and forecasts – Estimates and forecasts are very crucial in any sales campaign and having a document sales process makes it easier, faster and more accurate to create these forecasts.
By starting with understanding your buyers journey, you can then work towards matching the various steps of your sales funnel to the steps that your buyer naturally takes towards a purchase.
A misalignment of your sales process steps to those of the buyer’s journey is the single most critical cause of failure of sales campaigns. Businesses tend to aggressively invest in their sales campaigns with out really paying attention to this crucial concept and end up wasting time, resources and money.
As yourself these questions to help you determine if your sales process is aligned to the buyer’s journey:
List the steps that your prospect takes in each of the main stages of the buyer’s journey – awareness, consideration and decision stages.
Let us first list the potential steps your prospect may go through:
For each of these steps, next list the following:
Once you have defined the sales stepson what your prospect needs to know in that step, you will have create sales tools that give that knowledge to your prospect to help them move forward in their journey.
Each sales tool at each step should only give sufficient information to your prospect to move them to the next step. Avoid the temptation to overwhelm them with information and perhaps even making a pitch and try and convert the prospect into a customer. 9 times out of 10, this will fail.
Here is a list of sales tools and the steps they hustled be delivered at:
Once you have identified the sales process steps, what information your prospects need in each step and the sales tools that you have to create at each step, you will have to come up with a robust system of measuring the progress of your prospects through the sales funnel.
The measurement should be tangible and not based on vanity metrics. Have triggers in place to identify when a prospect has moved to the next step. Here are a few examples of triggers and what they mean:
By following these 3 steps and documenting your process, you can improve your sales tremendously. Creating the various sales tools at each stage of the sales process is crucial. You can not expect success if you are using one or two sales tools at all stages of the buyer’s journey. I have written other articles on this blog where I discuss the buyer’s journey, creating powerful sales tools and more.