How hard can it be to make Thai curry?
Don’t you have to just throw in all the ingredients and stir? And not forget fish sauce?
If you have actually tried to whip up Thai curry at home, you know that it’s not that simple. There’s a process, and no, you cannot just toss all the ingredients in all at once. That coconut milk is going to split and… to cut a long story short, it's not going to taste great. You have to follow a process. That’s why recipes exist.
A sales process is like a recipe for acing sales. Just like any recipe, there is a chronology of steps to be followed, and yes, you can sometimes tweak things here and there when the context demands it (like you would switch the fish sauce in a Thai curry with extra salt when you have vegan friends over).
What is a sales process?
A sales process is an outline or a template that maps the steps that your team needs to follow so as to guide a prospect from being unaware of your product to realizing that your product is exactly the answer that they’ve been looking for - the solution to their problems, the route to their goals.
The whole idea of a sales process - much like other concepts in sales like sales funnel or sales cycle or sales pipeline - is improved lead generation and increased client retention. If you get your sales process right, you can generate steady revenue and, eventually, business expansion in the longer run.
Why is having a sales process important for your team?
An effective sales process map enables better sales productivity by:
- Putting in place a set of steps that sales reps can follow with confidence - in a way, you automate how the salesforce goes about their day/ month/ quarter.
- Outlining distribution of work across different individuals and apartments
- Bringing speed to the processes of onboarding new salespeople and ongoing sales training
- Enabling sales managers to create more realistic sales projections
Steps in a sales process
Your typical standardized sales process would cover the following steps.
In this step of the sales process, sales reps develop a database of potential customers and begin connecting with them. Back in the day, sales reps collected mini-mountains of business cards and browsed through them, thinking, “Hmm, let’s write to Jacob Smith, VP of digital marketing at XYZ”, but today, salespeople might create connections on LinkedIn or even other ocial media platforms. They might first talk to a prospect on LinkedIn and then continue their prospecting process using phone calls or emails. It certainly beats cold calling, which would also fall under this stage.
At this stage, sales reps evaluate whether a prospect shows potential to convert into a customer. Is he or she or decision maker? Is your product relevant to them? Do they match your buyer personas and ideal customer profile? Qualified leads are riper prospects - it makes sense to invest in these prospects because it’s easier to close deals with them. Also, why invest time and effort in outreach if the prospect has low potential?
Most of you reading this will agree that the demo phase is when you truly have a foot in the door - that’s why salespeople follow up with leads about a product demo. At this stage, it’s about how you’re able to use the demo to highlight how your product’s features are the solution to the prospect’s struggles or the pathway to achieving their goals. Don’t expect potential buyers to say yes right or tell you what they’re thinking right off the bat. That happens in the next stage.
You might have gotten your foot in the door in the demo stage, but at this stage, the lead decides whether to push you and your foot out the door or whether to let you in. This is when the prospect might shop around, ask for testimonials and case studies from other clients, and talk to peers about your product.
Some salespeople live for this stage of the sales process, and others absolutely abhor it. The point is this: if the client is back to negotiate, it means they do see benefit in your product. Listen keenly to their demands and see how you can meet them at least halfway. For example, if you cannot offer a further discount, maybe you can work with partial payment or payment in instalments?
Ka-ching! Deal closed. Whatever you did worked. Or maybe whatever your competition did, did not work. Either way, the deal’s in the bag. But that doesn’t mean it's the end of the road.
Before you say that this is a customer service KPI, remember that customer service doesn’t need to call your prospect-turned-customer for a renewal or a referral in a few months to a year. Customer service doesn’t need to upsell to them. Customer service isn’t going to be asking for a testimonial for your website. Yep - you want to check in with the prospects you have converted every now and then to make sure customer service is treating them right. And if they aren’t being treated right, you want to make sure that you do what it takes to correct that.
Sales process vs sales methodology
Sales Methodology is often used interchangeably with the sales process, but there are actually some subtle differences between the two.
A sales process is a set of doable actions that salespeople follow. A sales methodology is a more general philosophy or collection of procedures that can guide the development and execution of a sales process.
For example: Be a good friend to enjoy good friends is an excellent philosophy. Now the steps to that might be: show up for your friends; don’t spill their secrets; don’t flirt with their wives/ husbands; remember their birthdays; be honest when they ask you for feedback; respect their boundaries… don’t eat the last chicken wing?
You see the difference between philosophy and process. It's about a guiding idea versus a set of actions.
The right sales methodology will give your sales process the formidable foundation that it needs.
We’ve put a sales methodology and a sales process together to demonstrate how this might work:
Foundation AKA sales methodology: Miller Heiman strategic selling approach
The Miller Heiman Strategic Selling approach encourages the idea of selling as a cooperative effort between the sales team and the paying customers, creating a win-win situation for all.
Okay, answer this: Which would you choose, after investing tremendous time and effort in a sales call: entering into a one-time contract with a client or forming a permanent partnership?
The main objective of the Miller Heiman Strategic Selling approach is to assist customers in getting the most value out of a product and in the bargain, increase the average deal value.
Action AKA sales process: SPIN
SPIN selling is a super way to forge relationships of trust between buyers and sellers. This form of lead nurturing encourages companies to embed themselves in client organizations as B2B solutions become more sophisticated. You evolve your customer relationships past vendor-buyer and take on a more consulting role.
The coolest thing about SPIN selling is that it's not an either/or strategy; many companies utilize it to supplement other sales strategies.
SPIN is an acronym for Situation, Problem, Implication and Need payoff
SPIN selling consists of 4 steps:
With your sales reps hat on your first instinct is to start pushing the products to new leads. Instead, swap that hat for a consultant hat and shift your focus to developing genuine relationships with potential consumers.
Collect as much information about them as you can—their function, how their business or department work, and so on.
This is the stage where you understand the situation (or the S of SPIN selling).
You want to find out which of the potential customers that you are talking to have been dissatisfied in the past. Pay special attention to the pain points, that they discuss. Display empathy and assure your new leads that you have their best interests in mind. Tell them that you are going to look for a way around things (and then genuinely do so - as any consultant would).
This is the stage where you understand the problem and implications (or the P and I of SPIN selling).
In this phase you’ll recommend solutions to previously experienced pain points, maybe have your product demo and get into the actual objection handling process. Its very important to focus on how your solution is capable of solving your prospect’s problems or enabling them to achieve their goals. You also need to demonstrate how any previously experienced pain points - with your solution or similar solutions - will be overcome.
This is the needs payoff phase of the SPIN selling process and here - again in consultant mode - you say things like, “Do you think it might help to achieve X goal if you…” or “You think it might be easier to overcome Y problem if you…”
If you have played your consultant role well in the prior phases, it should typically be easier to obtain a commitment or agreement with your prospect. You can persuade or nudge them to ink the dotted line with statements like, “so when do we join hands to fix your X” or “when can you push the start button to get you closer to X goal?”.
Your one true Wingman for an extraordinary sales process
You can enable your sales reps to do better at every stage of the sales process with Wingman by your side. Itemised call recordings let you do two amazing things: One, they let you play especially exemplary calls for the rest of the team to get inspiration from. And two, they let you personalize training.
Maybe Jim is great at prospecting but isn’t really adept at showing empathy when prospects are ranting about prior negative experiences with similar products - you can train Jim on exactly what matters.
Sales managers can also create realistic sales targets based on useful metrics like average length of phone calls and the team’s daily call volume.
Easy integration with your CRM, Slack, email and other platforms make Wingman a must-have in your sales toolkit. Get Wingman and bring home better efficiency. Sign up for a demo and see for yourself.