You can’t beat a good process!
Why? Because it saves time, energy and money.
How? Calmly and logically identifying best practice for you, and your clients, and turning it into a process stops you being thrown off course when the emotion of a specific situation emerges.
A good sales process is one of the most important processes in a business, regardless of it’s size, and yet it’s one which I see least amount of importance allocated to, and it’s the one we are focusing on here.
This is a surprise because a relationship with a client starts from the moment you start interacting / talking to each other. Always be authentic and treat a lead in the same way you treat a client, however cold the lead is. And make sure you interact with a client in the same way you interact with a lead – have a consistent approach to pre-sales conversations/interactions and post-sales conversations/interactions.
It is vital to demonstrate your values from the very start, and then even if the relationship doesn’t progress to signing up and delivering a piece of work, the potential client may return in the future, and will talk favourable about you and your service to others even if it wasn’t right for them. At the end of the day we are all human and we remember how an interaction felt.
Re-visiting and tweaking your sales process is a positive and rewarding thing to do. If you have other processes which you feel could work better for you then let me know, I’m always happy to talk processes and explore the systems which support those processes 😊
It is well documented that businesses with a sales process close more sales, so let’s take a step back and think about which part of the overall client journey is the sales process.
What is a sales process?
A sales process is a series of activities which you go through to encourage a lead to convert to a sale.
Or in other words steps to encourage someone who has shown an interest in something you offer to committing to working with you, either by signing a contract or by paying you – this part depends on your business model.
But do note here that the “energy” a client brings to the “transaction” is greater when they have financially committed, so an upfront percentage is a very good commercial scenario for many reasons.
The great news is that a basic sales process is simpler than you possibly imagined and is as follows:
- An enquiry is received (and ideally added to a CRM as an opportunity).
- A call/meeting takes place to ascertain the clients needs and whether you/your business are able to meet them.
- Follow up is made, questions answered, next steps agreed, reservations discussed and negotiations take place.
- A verbal agreement is given, or not.
- Contract is signed, payment made, pipeline is updated and the delivery starts, CRM is updated and used to help manage the delivery (another process I help with).
Typically, the more complex your product (includes productised services) and the bigger the deal, the more complicated the above will probably become and the longer it will take. Conversely the simpler the product the less steps there will be and it will take less time.
Does your sales process work for you?
Things have changed over the last year, your tried and tested sales process may not work as well as it should, or you may not have one. Either way follow these steps to identify best practice and get a sales process which works for you in place:
1. Review what you’re currently doing
Take a step back, switch off screens and draw / list out what you are currently doing on a clean sheet of paper.
If this is a struggle, and don’t worry – it often is, think about the most enjoyable conversions of a lead to a sale which you have experienced over the last few months. If it was enjoyable then is usually means it went well for both parties.
Do this for several lead conversions and identify the common steps.
Next think in more detail about the tasks/activities which are carried out, the time frame and the way they are carried out.
Have your Ideal client Avatar in the forefront of your mind (if you haven’t created one, or revisited yours, for a while then now is the time to do that too – check out my helpful eBook: Understand the Importance of Knowing Your Ideal Client and Create Your Own Avatar) and think about the following:
- Do you ideal clients prefer to interact and engage on email / phone / face to face (virtually at the moment) / via social media?
- Do they typically respond first time and in what time frame, or do they need a nudge?
- Do they need to get other stakeholders on board?
- Is a demonstration of the service you are offering a necessity, a nice to have, not needed?
- Are there common pushback which you encounter? Can you head these off at the pass by providing some type of collateral?
- How is a contract sent out, is it electronic, softcopy or hard copy?
2. Create your new sales process
With the understanding you gained in step one above you can now identify the areas which are working and those which are not.
Tweak the areas which could be working better, remove the bottle necks, smooth out the process so it works for you, and most importantly for your ideal client.
Here’s what a typical sales process might look like:
First contact/Initial Enquiry received:
define how the initial contact should be managed, be it sending out a qualifying communication, an email, picking up the phone, setting up a meeting. Add them to your CRM and pipeline. Now may be the time to connect with them on the relevant social media platform.
Meeting to ascertain the need:
find the pain points your potential client is experiencing, what is keeping them awake at night?
Interact and listen – is the pain that they are experiencing something you can offer a solution to? Can you demonstrate how you have helped someone with similar pain points in the past?
Often pain becomes normalised and people struggle to see how they can be helped, it’s your job to show that help is available – in fact what would be the cost to not going ahead?
Finish with an agreed action, and make sure you diarise a time to do what you said you would.
often step number 3 is to document the discussions in step 2 and send a proposal, however depending on the complexity of the product or buying process this step may be to have more discussions.
the number of business owners who don’t follow up is shocking. Do what you say you will do, make this a priority. Why would someone trust you and want to work with you if you don’t do what you say you will.
During this follow up stage you may find you need to answer questions, agree the next steps, discuss reservations and sometimes negotiate.
Follow up #2:
you may need to follow up a second time, don’t think of this as “hassling” – everyone is busy, make it as easy as possible for your ideal client to buy from you – reach out, make sure they feel that you want to work with them, demonstrate the care you will take of them as a client. It’ll work wonders.
the nod is given, verbally (includes email etc) the potential client says they would like to work with you. You are not over the finish line yet – things change, don’t take your foot off the gas on this step.
And of course not all discussions end with a “Yes”. Keep track of the reasons leads don’t convert, identify any trends and make changes. If it’s a timing issue then work out how you best handle this scenario and hoy you can stay in touch so that when they are ready to buy they will think of you.
If there are still objections or reservations, you may need to revisit some of the steps above.
T&Cs / Services agreement is sent and signed and returned, payment made, pipeline is updated and the delivery is scheduled or starts.
Your CRM is updated and used to help manage the delivery (another process I help my clients with 😊)
Now you have an ideal sales process laid out for your ideal client – perfect!
3. Finalise your process by merging the old with the new
Use the best of your existing process and merge it with the newly defined process – to give optimum efficiency and productivity.
Don’t put your newly defined sales process into a draw and forget about it!
Replicate the process in your pipeline management software, reflect the stages as milestones. CapsuleCRM has an excellent Pipeline area which is great for this. Move your opportunities through the milestone using Tracks which are a series of tasks supporting each of the steps.
You can’t keep everything in your head so let your system remind you of what you need to do when.
Having a bespoke CRM such as Capsule is like having a clone of your best self, reminding you to do things in the timely manner you identified when you created your perfect sales process.
Life of course isn’t perfect and not every sale will progress along the sale process the way you’d like – that’s where pipeline management comes in – see what opportunities are at what stage and what you need to do to nudge them along.
Make your Sales Process work for your business
Brilliant, you now have a sales process which works for you and your potential client, here’s how to make it work for your business:
- Set aside time each week to keep on top of your pipeline with your team, or on your own – Monday mornings are a perfect time to do this.
- Review the opportunities, the stage they are at and what you need to do to nudge them along.
- Review your pipeline in the context of your cashflow, and your delivery capacity – it is not a standalone part of your business.
- Things change, keep reviewing your sales process and your ideal client avatar – update both to work hand in hand.
Sales Processes are important and can be very simple.
Working out what your sales process is, is an excellent investment of time and energy which will be reflected in your bottom line – you will help more people/businesses increasing sales, and you will reduce the cost of sales.
Equally, if not more importantly, you and your clients will have a more enjoyable experience: it’s a win win 😊
How I can support you
My goal is to help you, as a business owner, to survive, revive and thrive by getting the most value out of your three most valuable assets:
- Your processes and systems
- Your contacts/data
When you make the most of your contacts/data you are in the best place possible to increase your revenue. When you have efficient, repeatable processes in your business, you reduce the cost of sales. Both of these give the business owner more head space to focus on growing their business.
The overall result is an increase in net profit.
I have been working with CapsuleCRM for over 10 years and helped many clients increase revenue, reduce costs, make the most of their contacts, manage their pipeline and deliver great customer service.
I do this by designing and installing Capsule to meet the client’s needs, offering a bespoke CRM to suit their business requirements. Capsule really is a great solution for coaches, consultants and business owners and when it is integrated with Mailchimp and Xero you have really solid foundations in place to grow your business.
To find out more or arrange a time to discuss how I can help you, please contact me.