I’m a big fan of having a sales process. However, often times salespeople just get stuck in the same old sales process, lead comes in, qualification call, demo, proposal, negotiation (addressing customers concerns) and either closed won or closed lost.
CRMs have not made this easier by any means. If you look at a conventional sales funnel, it looks pretty standard.
Rows and rows and rows filled with deals in different stages of the pipeline.
That uniform way of looking at leads is great from a numbers perspective and gives you a proper insight towards how your sales team is performing. However, it’s also making salespeople less willing to go out of the process to accommodate prospects that might not fit in the traditional sales funnel.
A perfect example of this is that I recently booked a demo for a tool. A few hours later, I got an automated (slightly personalized) email, where the CTA was to get me on the phone (so they can qualify me). Fair enough!
I get the need to qualify, there are so many prospects coming through, you want to make sure that you spend time on the ones that actually have a chance of converting into paid customers. I didn’t have time for a phone call, so I asked him if we can converse via email, the guy was persistent that the phone call will better help him understand what I’m looking for and to see if there is a mutual fit.
That right there is a BIG MISTAKE.
Every sales person needs to have the ability to adapt to changes, fast. It’s is called adaptability.
Can’t get on the phone, that’s fine. Let’s exchange emails, hell I can tweet you if you want. I know it’s not orthodox but that’s what suits me, that sales rep should be willing to adapt to how I want to proceed forward.
The bad in the sales process
I utterly dislike the BANT strategy, that’s where a salesperson is trying to determine whether I have the Budget, Authority, Need and a Timeline, essentially branding me as either qualified or not.
A better way of approaching this is by trying to determine what exactly is it that your prospects are looking for, what their needs are and whether your tool is exactly what they are looking for. If there is a “mutual fit”.
Overselling, overpromising and piss poor attempt at getting a customer is all that is wrong with sales today. I love this profession, however, we have to move away from being process-centric to customer-centric.
If a client or a prospect is not comfortable going on the phone, that’s fine. I’m happy to answer any questions they might have via email. I usually ask what are their requirements, how quickly are they looking to go ahead with a vendor.
Now, most people’s argument is that eventually, they will have to get on the phone, for a demo at least. Yes and no.
Demos are not necessary in every case. Sure with large ticket sales (>$5K ACV), it makes sense to have the whole team sit through a demo. But you don’t have to do the demo every single time, it increases the sales lifecycle, you have to exchange emails to find the right day/time and then later comes the decision making process. All in all, it can add even up to a few weeks to the sales cycle.
I use calendaly to schedule calls/meetings with my prospects (saves a lot of time and the back and forth).
GIFs, screencasts, or loom is a great way to send short videos to your prospects. I do that all the time, they are interested in a certain aspect of the product, I just record a short video and send that over. They get back to me with questions and we plan the next steps.
You have to give your prospects some breathing room and let them control the pace of the conversation. Listen to them, accommodate their requests, make them feel at ease and they’ll be more inclined to go with your product than the competitors.
People buy experiences, not products.
Remember, don’t copy a sales process from another company and try and implement it at yours. Define the sales cycle for your own business. For each of the phases, create easily accessible templates, checklists, and questions that your sales reps could use.
and the Good
Within a sales team, the style of selling may vary from person to person. What a sales process does is it brings order and structure to a team with high functioning salespeople. Sales process, in this case, is a set of repeatable steps that salespeople perform over a sales cycle to convert a prospect into a paying customer.
In a sales team, there is a constant need to track activities, like emails sent, calls made, demos scheduled, opportunities created. The sales process is right at the heart of everything. At any given time you can review the process and see where the bottlenecks are, where the sales team is not performing well and what went wrong.
But is there a need for a sales process? In my opinion, yes!
Let me give you an example. Your sales team performs a lot of activities on a daily basis, however, you’re only tacking the number of deals won and revenue. You have zero understanding of how many activities are being performed by each rep on a daily basis, and the revenue starts dipping, and no one has a clue why.
Not a great position to be in huh? That’s why having a sales process can be very valuable.
Each and every single rep should be accountable for sticking to the process and guiding the customer through a sale. You should adapt yourself according to how a prospect wants to carry the discussion and if they prefer to not jump on a call, that should be fine. With a process in place, it just becomes a lot easier to analyze bottlenecks and understand how each bottleneck can be tackled.
There is no perfect way of doing things. But sales processes do work. They help managers understand how their team is performing and helps reps understand where their performance is low. On the other hand, we shouldn’t get clingy towards the process and have a prospect walk through the same activities as the last person you spoke to. We should always strive to be more customer-centric and not be driven by a script.
Listen to the prospect and understand their pain points, do that in a way that makes the whole process feel less robotic and more geared towards the prospect’s needs. I always try to extend conversations with my prospects to different topics, fishing, football, food etc. It helps build rapport and makes the prospect feel at ease with you and that can really help with those follow-ups later on in the sales cycle 😉