Of course there are processes in sales! The questions are: Do Sales Forces care about them? Do sales managers know, coach and monitor them? Do sales professionals follow them?
Research shows the answer to these questions is all too often “No”. Although most everyone knows they should, the vast majority of us sales professionals do not understand the importance of processes and have little interest in taking the time to follow them.
This was okay for many years. Back when sales seemed simpler and the sales processes, sales call management process or other processes – where easy enough to follow with little training.
Let’s start with the basic two processes in sales: A Sales Force Process and a Customer Sales Call Process.
A quick google search for each reveals that the world seems a bit confused. About half the results talk about the steps involved during a single customer interaction while the other half talk about the steps of acquiring a lead and nurturing this lead to become a buying customer and beyond.
Which is which?
A Sales Force Process is the internal steps your company takes to sell a product. It can, and should take on many forms (a simple generic one is given here as an example). There can, and usually should be a different sales process for each Sales Force in a company. Think about it in the simplest terms such as between inside sales and field sales. They do not sell in the same exact way – even to the same exact customers with the same exact products.
Given that buyers are 55 - 75% of the way through their purchase decision before talking to a sales professional, your sales process should include, at a minimum, an understanding and bridge to actions
taken by marketing and social media. The reason is that the first steps in the Sales Process take place before a customer starts down their Buying Process. Remember Social Media / Social Selling is about establishing yourself as an expert before the customer realizes a need.
The Sales Process follows your customer every step of the way through your company and through the actual purchase. But don’t stop here. Your opportunity with this customer is just beginning. Your Sales Process continues post purchase, into the loyalty loop and on to becoming the trusted advisor.
With more technical products, part of the sales process may include post-sales steps such as technical support. Another example is when the customer needs to register a product for extended warranty (and future marketing!) then the step of going on-line to register will be steps in the process.
A Customer Sales Call Process includes the steps you want your sales professionals to follow when interacting with a customer. Starting with preparing for an individual or series of customer interactions, through the conversation and purchase, to post conversation documentation in CRM and actions that need to be taken in connection to the conversation with the customer.
Stay tuned next week when the Customer Sales Call Process is described in more detail…
By Chris Houghtaling