Sales 101

Have you heard of the sales god Erica Feidner?

She was the top sales representative for Steinway & Sons, one of the world’s largest piano manufacturers, worldwide for eight consecutive years, selling over $41 million dollars in pianos, costing anywhere from $2,000 to $152,000.

You see, Erica was fascinated by the piano from a REALLY young age of 3 years old. At age 11, she was already playing in an orchestra and even teaching people how to play.

But then, the worst happened…She had a little accident and injured her thumb. Ending any chance of ever playing professionally.

She put her ambitions aside and decided to focus on her studies. Years later, she started working for the Bosendorfer piano dealership in New York, as a salesperson selling the piano. After her graduation, she joined Steinway and Sons in New York City as a sales representative. She worked very hard and very soon became one of the top sales representatives, not only in the company but also worldwide.

Erica’s secret? She had a passion for music and helping people to connect with music.

Feidner adapted her sales approach to match the stage at which the prospect approached the sale.

For novices, she used her skill as a piano teacher to provide enough basic instruction so that, within an hour, the prospect was playing a song on the piano. For experienced players, she focused on matching the personality of the buyer to the “personality” of the piano – how old it is, how it’s been cared for, what it’s made out of, and especially how it sounds.

Brilliant, right?

Yet, essentially it all started with one thing – a tailor-made systemised but humanised sales process.

Why you need a sales process

From Erica’s story, it’s clear that if you’re to succeed, you must truly think deeply about how you present your products to prospects.

This is where a sales process comes into play.

A sales process gives you and your employees the most effective path to follow in order to close the sale. It helps you avoid dropping balls through human error, and narrows down your prospects (so that you don’t burn your resources pitching to people who aren’t ready to buy). 

Typically a sales process contains upwards of 5 steps depending on the time your deal typically takes to close.

7 benefits of creating a sales process

1. Provide better customer experience

In every business, our goal should be to create Raving FANS. People who rate you, refer to you and shout from the rooftops about how good you are. We all have opportunities to delight our customers, to add a little value or give a little extra. That extra could be as simple as a well timed phone or video call, a nicely worded postcard or something else unexpected through the post. It could even be a well timed question or suggestion. By looking at your typical sales cycle and the touch points within it, you should be able to identify opportunities to add a little sparkle and stand out from the crowd. 

2. It increases efficiency

Working with a sales process guides you through the journey. Rather than walking into it blindly, it makes the process more efficient and saves you time, which you can spend on the important things. Additionally, with a standardised process in place, you will not waste time doing unnecessary tasks.

It’s important to note that a sales process is not cast in stone. You can always play around with the elements until you find a fitting one that works well for your company. You need to create one that works for your company, and perhaps more importantly your team.

3. Reduces the time spent on training

A sales process gives someone insight into how the company works to generate leads and sales. This said, you will spend less time training someone on what exactly to do since the information will already be available.

An established sales process gives salespeople a clearer picture of what is expected of them. Therefore, there is not much time spent explaining every single detail to them.

4. Improves communication across the team

With a sales process in place, everyone will be on the same page and know who’s responsible for doing what. In order to avoid confusion and increase conversions, every member of the team should know the sequence of steps to be followed.

The sales process ensures that things happen the same way, each time, every time.

5. Provides scope for constant improvement

When you have a sales process, you’ll be able to identify the exact place in which a prospect became un-engaged with your product or service. Over time you can use that data to establish what needs to happen in the preceding steps to ensure people stay excited about you and work their way through to sales.

In short, formalising the sales process lets you concentrate your efforts more effectively and provides you with a greater scope for improvement.

6. Increase lead conversion 

By having a systemised sales process, you’re much more likely to identify prospects who will potentially purchase. A sales process will help you keep track of who you’re trying to sell to and what they are looking to buy at every stage of the cycle. You’ll lose track of less people and make sure that you follow up and push people along at the right time. 

And with the main goal of a sales-process being to increase the rate of lead conversions, a sales process will make you move faster, ultimately leading you to more sales.

7. Make more money

Sounds obvious right? But if you’re delighting your customers, improving efficiency, saving money on training, constantly measuring and improving your sales stats and converting more business more regularly; you’re going to make more money.

How to create a sales process 

Creating a sales process is easier than it seems. It doesn’t have to be a tedious process, and if you do it right it’ll be WELL WORTH IT. Remember though – No one wants to think that they are going through your “sales process” so the most important thing to do is to systemise the process and humanise the interaction.

1. Establish your sales stages

Sales cycle stages are the steps that your customer needs to take to go from uninterested to customer. In some instances, like FMCG this may not be so relevant, but for most product and service based small businesses you’ll need to take any potential customer on a bit of a dance. In many instances, you’ll need to create sales stages that make sense for your business. 

The general elements of the sales stages might include:

  • Prospect by identifying different customers
  • Approach the potential customer
  • Qualify: Determine whether or not a prospect is a good fit for the product or service they’re selling.
  • Pitch to the customer by persuading them to buy the product
  • Handle objections
  • Close the deal
  • Close the sales cycle 

In this example, there are at least 5 opportunities for you to create humanised but systemised interactions that pique the customer and keep them engaged until the end. 

2. Determine who does what

If you’re working with a team, then you can assign each of the tasks above to different people. That way it’s easier and much faster to move forward.

Assigning tasks will also make people feel more responsible to complete their part of the process. This helps to avoid situations where some people are doing more than others, and still being celebrated for it.

3. State the goal of the sales stage

Each sales stage should have a goal. What are you trying to accomplish by doing what you’re doing? 

For example, the goal of approaching a customer could be to engage with them and get them interested in your product or service.

Having a goal will help you see whether or not you’re successful. It will guide you and even help to make amends to the sales process in the event that something’s not quite working out.

4. Outline the tasks

In the tasks section, you’ll state the different things that need to be done in order to achieve that goal. If it’s prospecting for example, it might be a matter of accessing a bunch of contacts that seem viable for your product or service.

Break down how you aim to do that and the different procedures that will lead you to this goal.

Summing up

So in summary, there are 7 benefits of creating a systemised and humanised sales process, they are:

  1. Increases efficiency
  2. Reduces the time spent on training
  3. Improves communication across the team
  4. Provides scope for constant improvement
  5. Increases the lead conversion rate
  6. Provides better customer service
  7. Make you more money

Sales might seem hard, but if you have the proper structures in place everything becomes a tad easier. With a sales process, you’ll be on track with your goals, monitoring the progress and keeping up with your achievements.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, perhaps you can ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Have you got a documented sales process that you follow?
  2. What could you add into your sales process that would delight people?
  3. Do you think you’d sell more if you documented where people are in the process?

As a little bonus, you can find a template that will help you create your very own sales process here.

If you need any help creating a kick ass business, get in touch. At Outside ideas we’re on a mission to help people and businesses grow.

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