Thursday, November 6, 2008

Its The Sales Process That Sells Not The Salesperson

Writen by Steve Martinez

If your sales team doesn't follow a sales process, you're losing sales. When sales management focuses on the process of sales and monitors the path salespeople take for each sale, they increase the success rate. Salespeople can get lost in the hectic world of sales reports and activities. When salespeople focus on the stages of the sale and what the next step is, they win more deals.

When sales people lose sales, does this mean they were lost? The words "lost" makes one think that they lost their way along a path and something happened. In reality someone else may have stolen the order from them.

When I was a kid my mother would put 25 cents, carefully wrapped and tied into one of my fathers' handkerchiefs. This was an attempt to prevent me from losing it. She made it so huge that I couldn't possibly lose the giant wad of material. She would send me off to school so I could use it for milk money. By the way, that money was for the week!

As you know, a sale isn't something we can wrap and seal in a handkerchief. If it was that easy, you wouldn't be reading this for a better solution. Let's face it; you can't lose something you don't have in the first place. Although some salespeople will think they have a sale before they actually have it in their hands.

Why Salespeople lose sales in the process. If you have been managing sales for a while, you know that sales are almost 100% predictable. If salespeople follow the sales process, they will always come to a conclusion that is favorable to us. Unless they skip a step or overlook something and it is usually their fault for missing something. This is where they get lost.

Some salespeople don't realize how important sales steps are. Because of this, salespeople get lost in the sequence and sometimes try to skip steps of the process. This is usually how sales are lost. For the typical sales, non retail I recommend a six step process with a magical seventh step that shortens the sales cycle when applied consistently. Some people combine these steps and that might be ok but you can't skip any of them or you will lose. I divide the steps into two segments, Hunting and Farming because the first part is really hunting for the prospect and identifying the right prospects. The second part is like farming because we are building a relationship that might take months to nurture before the opportunity becomes ripe. Here are the sales steps in brief order.

1. The prospect must pass the "IF" test. This test is applied with questions to find out "IF" they are a real prospect, the test is 'IF" they fit the profile of our perfect customer. "IF" they do not, we find another prospect.

2. The salesperson must then discover the "WHO" of the prospect. This is the true contact or contacts in the company or organization that we must meet with for an opportunity. This is achieved through questioning to identify the right prospect person.

3. The salesperson must then identify the "W's" or pain points of the prospect. This is also achieved through questioning and research and an appointment is often the best way to discover this. These W's are when, where, why, what issues that confirm our next step.

4. If we did our job in step three, we move over to the farming stage of the sales process which is really the "OPPORTUNITY" stage. Ideally we want to identify three "OPPORTUNITIES" which are solid pain points the prospect wants eliminated from their business or life. Once we have these identified, we can move to step five.

5. Step five is the easiest stage of all; it is the "PRESENTATION" stage of the sale. This is where the salesperson can combine all they have learned about the prospects problems and issues and at the right time, presents their solution. If everything was followed according to the process, the solution will be on target and received warmly for the next step.

6. Step six is the "CLOSE". If you reach this point, the sale should be a slam dunk and a sealed deal because you have followed the process with a remedy for a solution the prospect wants.

7. The seventh step is magical because you can capture more business through a "REFERRAL" and a reference from the prospect and slip into the fourth step on the next opportunity and bypass the first three steps.

Remember, if your sales people bypass any of the sales process steps, you lose! One of the best ways to improve sales is to focus on the sales process and the steps salespeople take to make a sale. Breaking up the sales process into modules and teaching salespeople how to move prospects from one step to the next is the right way to keep them from losing sales. Otherwise, you might need a very large handkerchief.

Steve Martinez is a Sales Management Growth Strategist and Founder of Selling Magic. His organization teaches businesses how to automate and customizing CRM solutions with the best practices of sales management for increased profits.

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