Closing the Deal

How to Build a Sales Process

You’ve got something to sell, and you want to do a better job of selling it. If you’ve taken the time to research how to do this, you may find yourself bombarded with information and theories on what the “best” sales methods really are.

The solution is to tune out the noise and instead focus on building your sales process. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling a product or a service. You need a process in place that defines your sales cycle, the critical “must do” steps and how prospects move through the cycle to become customers at a pace that is predictable and dependable.

Your sales process is a chain of events. It has distinct stages, starting with Prospect and ending with the Close or Implement Solution.

First, let’s define the difference between a sales process and a sales methodology. You’ve probably heard of or read all about “Solution Selling” or “Inbound Sales.” These are both examples of a sales methodology – a philosophy that helps your company grow through sales. A methodology provides a framework for your sales strategy as a whole. Consultative selling, listening and selling with integrity are sales philosophies.

Sales process refers to the individual steps, and milestone you must navigate to execute your larger sales strategy and close a specific selling objective. A sales process helps you turn opportunities into closed deals and revenue.

Your sales process is a chain of events. It has distinct stages, starting with Prospect and ending with the Close or Implement Solution. So, what happens in between, and how can you ensure these steps are followed effectively? Let’s take a closer look at six possible steps of a sales process and what they mean. These can be renamed or add additional steps based on your selling cycle:

1. Prospect

During this phase, you are identifying prospects. You may do this through events, referrals, outreach or other methods. Rough matching them against your idea customer profile.

2. Qualify

Once you have a prospect, take time to understand their needs. Look at the prospect’s BANT – Budget, Authority, Needs, and Timeline. Break the “N” into “P” “Personal Needs” and “B” Business Results Needs for a full spectrum of how to serve the individual with your solutions.

3. Connect

Make contact with the prospect, ask “high gain” questions and determine their interest level, needs and timing.

4. Research/Evaluate

Conduct research of the prospect’s business to gain a deep understanding of their needs. You may use the company website, LinkedIn or even speak with employees in different departments. Being thorough is key here.

5. Present

Polish and synthesize your proposal or demo. Pre-sell the solution through short excerpts of the proposed solution. Edit, customize and present final version to the prospect so they can see your product or service in action and how it was configured to their unique needs.

6. Close/Implement

This is the ultimate goal. Closing could include any number of final steps, from submitting a quote to negotiation to gaining buy-in from key decision makers. The final steps include the sales rep transferring the client to account management or customer service or managing the implementation.

It’s important to constantly revisit, revise and refine your sales process. Observe your reps and map your observations. What is working? What is not working? What is cueing the prospect to move onto the next step? Be sure to document and evaluate what you find. You should always be refining your sales process. Integrating your sales process into a CRM is the best way to measure data for the sales effort and create directional reporting to help course modify your sales efforts.

Measuring your sales process is key to helping you evaluate where you need to improve or optimize. Some of the ways you can measure your sales process include looking at the percentage of prospects who request a demo after a discovery call or how many close after a demo. You also want to look at how long prospects are staying in each stage, and seek out opportunities to more quickly move them through.

If you’re looking to grow, building and evaluating a sales process is the best thing you can do to create repeatable, scalable sales. Follow these steps, and you’re on your way to building a strong sales process that will take your business to the next level.

Build Your Sales Process

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