Sales process management is a key component of small business success. By attracting new customers and providing repeat products or services to existing customers, businesses grow organically. Today’s businesses can leverage technology for every activity, from streamlining operations to managing marketing endeavors, but embracing modern efficiencies does not mean abandoning traditional time-tested techniques. To be sure, creating and replicating a sales management process that captures customers is difficult and time-consuming. But, the effort you invest in both modern and traditional sales management techniques can pay dividends for the life of your business.
While there are many ways to optimize the sales process, we’ve picked seven areas where businesses can hone-in on prospects, devote resources, automate processes, and communicate value. Here are our seven tips:
Learn your prospect’s needs
Let’s start with a basic step that can be overlooked in the noise of technology and needs to fill sales funnels with prospects: find out what your prospect needs and seek to be the solution. Success in this area comes from communication and honesty. Before preparing a sales presentation, ask the potential customer a simple question: “What would be the optimal result from any solution.” The question might lead you in a different direction, as sometimes we assume that a prospect has done tons of research. Sometimes they have not, and often, they are looking for you to put them on the right path.
Know the decision-making process
In the process of learning a prospect’s needs, you may learn other details so you can make a sale, you need to convince a decision maker. Depending on the organization, you could be dealing with an individual, an organized committee, or something in between. However your prospect makes its decision, you’ll have a better shot at landing a sale if you know who you need to be speaking to. This is not to say that you should hop over your contact to try to market to a decision-maker, but rather you should ensure that your message is tailored to the individual or committee that has the power to say yes.
Manage your sales process with a timeline
An understanding of a potential customer’s decision-making process helps inform your sales process. A simple but customizable timeline is key to managing multiple sales efforts. When you know how long a prospect needs to evaluate your proposal, and the number of decision-makers, you will know when to follow up. Equally as important, you’ll know when to move on. You’ll never convert every prospect, so a successful sales process requires knowing
Provide clear information to your prospects
From a website FAQ to crystal clear sales collateral, effective prospect communication extends far beyond the sales pitch. Make sure that those shopping for products and services know the benefits your business can provide. This can be tricky, especially if you provide highly specialized or technical products or services. The key is to focus on results, rather than details that might threaten customer engagement. Fill your website, social media, and other online presence with testimonials and case studies. If you don’t have any, speak to a handful of recent satisfied customers and ask for their help. If you highlight their success after working with you, then they may get some free advertising out of the process.
Stand out from the crowd
You likely have several competitors. How can you best differentiate your services from those available from others? Why would someone buy from you, if your competitor down the street has a lower price? The answer is found in your unique story. Find your voice. Tell your story — your “why.” Why did you start your business? What values drive you every day? Share your passion, and explain how your story can help others, and you’ll be able to pop out from a field of those without.
Focus on value
Any product or service is likely to help a business save money in one way or another. Return on investment (ROI) is a common benefit. Be prepared to show how investing in you will pay off for the customer in the future. This is key to establishing a clear reason for choosing, and once the value is plain to see and easy to understand, it can control your sales process. Instead of asking if the customer wants to buy a product or engage your services, you can rephrase the question into, “are you ready to start earning that ROI now?”
Ask for the sale
And, make sure that you are actually asking for the sale. Again, this is a traditional sales technique, but it can get lost in the chaos of modern business life. Once you’ve identified a prospect’s needs, shown a clear value in your product or service, and determined the decision-making process, go ahead and ask for their business. If the prospect is not ready to proceed, find out why. If they prefer a competitor’s offering, of course, take another shot at converting them to your side, but also know when to move on.
Sales is the lifeblood of any business. These tips are a solid foundation for any sales process and can help any business manage and control today and the future.
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