Sales processes give your sales reps a proven system to follow. While the system can always be improved upon, if you don’t have one in place and all your reps operate in their own unique manner, it’s difficult to measure effectivity and scale up your sales process as your company grows.
If everyone follows the same guidelines or uses a similar process, it’s easier to identify which aspects of the sales process are working well and what needs to be improved to close more deals in the future.
Having a sales process also allows new hires to ramp up into their role faster. If they have to create their own system from scratch, there’s a much steeper learning curve than if you can provide them with a playbook to follow.
That being said, a sales process is not necessarily a rigid “you need to do all of these little minute details in order to close the deal” set of rules. As sales reps become more experienced, they’re going to figure out ways to tweak the sales process to better suit themselves that might not work for everyone else. A sales process should be adaptable for that — it shouldn’t be a structure where you go and read a script and follow steps A, B and C. It’s more of a framework or guideline.
While the specifics of a sales process will vary depending on your business or offer, generally every area from before you a contact a lead up until they close as a customer should be covered.
The actual things you do within each step can vary and change from company to company, so you might label them differently, but often, there are similar steps that need to occur. If you can align your opportunity stages to the steps of this process, you can measure the results and understand where people are getting stuck.
Step 1: Research and Qualification
Whether you have an inbound lead or are doing outbound prospecting, you always need to research and qualify each prospect.
Prior to ever reaching out, you need to find out who the lead is, what they care about, what pain points and challenges you can solve for them, what messaging will resonate with them and how your value proposition can be tailored to them.
Conducting research and qualifying each lead in advance of any outreach allows you to ensure your first conversation will be valuable.
Step 2: Connection
Now that you understand who the lead is, it’s time to reach out and make a connection.
This outreach should have it’s own process. You should have some guidelines around different methods of connecting like social media, email, phone conversation and in-person meetings.
Step 3 : Validation, Alignment and Agreement
Now that you’ve made a connection with the lead, verify the information you have about them. If you reached out because they match your ideal customer profile, confirm whether the hypothetical challenge you think they have is actually the challenge they’re facing.
This step creates alignment between the sales rep and the prospect about what the areas for opportunities are. Learn about what their true challenges are and how their challenges can align with the services your company provides and make sure you’re both in agreement.
Don’t present them with the solution yet, just get the understanding of what the best solution would be.
Step 4: Solution Presentation
The solution presentation should be based on everything you’ve learned up until this point. It should solve for their specific pain points and challenges. This presentation or proposal should be targeted specifically to the prospect and be something generic that you reuse over and over again.
At New Breed, we do an assessment or consultation as our solution presentation. We do this by gaining access to their HubSpot portal and analyzing how they’re performing against industry benchmarks and how they can improve.
Step 5: Close
Finally you need to negotiate your proposal and iron out all the details.
Up until this point, it’s very likely you’re going to be dealing with your champion. A champion within the buying process is the person who is bought in on the fact that they need your solution. However, the champions don’t always have buying authority, especially for large purchases like hiring an agency or investing in a new software. For those larger purchases they probably need to get buy-in from other decision makers and key stakeholders within their company.
If you have done the first four steps very well and have complete buy-in from your champion, then your job in this step is to arm your champion with the information they need to present back to other key stakeholders in the company.
Ideally, you get to present directly to the stakeholders yourself, but that’s not always the case. Ways to enable your champion include providing a formal deck for them to share with the stakeholders and using tools like Vidyard to actually record your proposal and ensure it’s presented in exactly the way you want it to be.
The sales process consists of the steps involved in making a sale whereas a sales methodology is the approach you take.
Here are a few examples of methodologies you can apply to your sales process:
The Challenger Sale is one of the more popular methodologies, and it’s the one we try to use at New Breed. It’s essentially learning about the prospect and pushing them on their idea or preconceived notions of the best solution and presenting them something different, something potentially new, to try and get them to close.
It takes a lot of confidence to do a challenger sale successfully because you need to be able to walk away from a deal and say “here are your challenges, here is what you’re trying to solve for and here is the best way to do that” in a take it or leave it manner.
Value-based selling is kind of like an offshoot of solution selling, but based more on the final outcome and deliverable as opposed to simply the solution. Focus on the value you’re providing as opposed to the cost of the service and demonstrate that the price is only a fraction of the total value being offered.
Value-based selling requires you to target your offer to the specific challenges you’re solving and emphasize why your solution will benefit them more than any other offers in both the short-term and long-term.
Inbound selling is the same as the inbound methodology — it focuses on attracting people and not being pushy. It’s the opposite of outbound. Prioritize the buyer’s needs above your own and sell to solve for your customers’ challenges as opposed to making a profit for yourself.
Learn more about integrating the inbound methodology into your sales process with New Breed’s Complete Guide to Inbound Sales.
Guido is a Demand Generation Marketer for New Breed. He specializes in running in-depth demand generation programs internally while assisting account managers in running them for our clients.