Let’s start with a riddle: Why did the team of world-class all-stars lose the big game?
The answer is simple: if every team member is playing like a stand-out superstar, you run the risk of internal conflict, double-efforts, and misunderstandings that ultimately hurt the team’s performance—no matter how strong each individual player is.
Every member of your sales team has their own methods. According to HubSpot, nearly 60% of salespeople are hesitant to change their processes once they get into a groove with them. Without an established process, however, I’d argue that your sales team isn’t really a “team” at all—it’s just a loosely-related group of people doing their own thing. It doesn’t take an expert to see that’s not the way to get proven, repeatable results.
I’ve developed a proven, eight-step sales process. This post will go over each step in detail, giving you all the information you need to skyrocket your team’s success rates.
Getting Your Team to Follow New Sales Process Steps
You may be looking at this post and thinking, a sales process sounds great, but how will I get my team to go along with this?
Resistance is sure to follow any attempt to change or establish processes when your team members have been doing things their own way for an extended period of time. Some team members may be concerned about picking up a new process and using it effectively, while others may see any proposed change as a threat to their self-perception as a great salesperson. Either way, you can find yourself swimming upstream before the process is even in place.
In my years as a sales trainer and coach, I've discovered that to implement change, you need to start with the “why.” For this reason, every step in the process I’ve outlined below includes information on why that sales process step is essential to your team’s sales success.
1. Identify Prospects
The best way to increase prospecting activity is to require a territory and account plan that achieves two goals. First, each salesperson should build a list of prospects in the territory they intend to pursue. New logos are necessary for revenue growth. Second, they need to identify existing accounts they can grow by creating new opportunities. Growing your existing clients improves your profitability.
Armed with a plan and a list, you can ensure your team knows who to pursue and what work they need to do when it comes to prospecting.
2. Initiate Communication
The next sales process step is initiating communication. The best way to do that is to start with a prospecting sequence that allows the sales force to communicate using an insight-based approach, one that uses patient, professional persistence to create value for each prospective client and increase their willingness to meet with your salesperson. By using multiple channels, you increase your chances of reaching your client.
Prospecting is more than just a cold call, even though that is still the best way to gain a meeting. By using all the tools available, you increase your odds of getting a meeting.
3. Discover Needs & Qualify
In the legacy approaches we have practiced for decades, the salesperson’s primary objective is to discover the client’s problem. In the modern approach being practiced now, it’s important to teach the client something about themselves and their business. There is now a two-way transfer of information in discovery, with both the client and the salesperson sharing important information.
The discovery call is where most salespeople win or lose deals. You need a value-creating experience for your contacts if you want to move forward.
4. Nurture, Nurture, Nurture
The best way to think about nurturing the relationships inside your prospective client’s company is to continually communicate, always providing something useful to each contact. Instead of “checking in,” you provide your client with something that will help them better understand their world and make better-informed decisions, choices that will improve their results.
Sales is a competition. You create a preference to buy from you when you are more valuable than your competitors.
5. Present Your Offer
A good presentation starts by reminding your clients why they need to change, saving the “why us” for the very end. You follow the “why change” with the future state the client needs, followed by how you are going to help them achieve it.
The salesperson who does the best job proving they understand the client’s challenge, their desired future state, and the customized approach to deliver that future is the one best positioned to win their business.
6. Soothe Their Doubts
The reason clients don’t move forward is that they have unresolved concerns. Leaving these concerns unresolved makes it easy for your contacts to slip back into the status quo or wait for a competing salesperson to give them the confidence to move forward.
Remember: objections are really just concerns your contacts need help resolving.
7. Close the Sale
The best and most effective way to close the sales is to simply ask the client if you can give them a contract and start the initiative that will produce the results they need.
If you’ve done a good job through the sales process, you have the right to ask for the client’s business.
8. Follow Up & Follow Through
In The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments that Drive Sales, the 10th commitment is the Commitment to Execute. Follow-up is an essential sales process step.
You always want to sell in a way that gives you the absolute right to the next initiative. When you don’t follow up or follow-through, you will not be considered for future opportunities.
How Sales Training Helps Establish Your Sales Process
No matter how talented your sales team is, having a proven, established process can help you consistently reach your sales targets, quarter after quarter. Following these eight sales process steps will help ensure that your salespeople are prepared for every sales call. Additionally, it will help them avoid pitfalls like rushing into an offer too quickly or skimping on the follow-up.
Laying out a sales process and implementing it consistently across your team can be two different things. If your team needs a culture shift for a change of process to be effective, you’ll need to start by finding precisely what else in your sales process is holding your team back.