Most small and mid-sized businesses cannot clearly define the process they use for successful sales. This lack of clarity severely limits the growth potential of an SMB. Here’s why.
I didn’t say YOU can’t sell. If you’ve been in business or sales for a few years and are still around, you’ve probably figured something out that works for you.
In fact, I haven’t met very many business owners who don’t think they can sell or at least have someone on the team who can. Some have had some formal training. Some have tripped across what seems to work for them.
Scaling YOU is extremely difficult. You only have some many hours in a day. You can only be in so many places at once. A business leader needs to be doing the functions that add the most value to the company and fit your talents.
Here’s the Challenge
If you had to add ten new salespeople every two weeks for the next year, could you ramp up your onboarding and sales process to handle it?
I know what you are thinking? I would just hire the best salespeople I can find even if that includes stealing them from my competitors.
That would be 260 top performing sales people in one year.
Even if you could find that many great people in a year, you still have to train them and give them time to ramp up. And your competitors are going to fight back. How many will you lose due to attrition and because of inadequate training and support?
You probably aren’t looking to grow that fast. But that is not the point of the exercise.
The idea is can you grow your sales (and marketing) teams efficiently and remove yourself as the bottleneck to success?
Here are some of the things to consider.
Steps of the Sale
We define seven steps to a sale. The number of actions typically varies from 5 to 10 depending on which source you are using. Common themes include:
- The questions you need to ask to determine need and fit.
- What do you cover in your sales presentation?
- Dealing with the common objections you face.
- What are the best ways to close the deal?
At some point, you generate a lead. That lead is followed up by sales.
For each of your offerings do you have best practices for how many sales calls or meetings you would ideally have to get to the point of a proposal and deal?
It is tempting to try to close every time you meet. But for complex solutions, if you combine all the steps into one meeting, you are probably overwhelming your buyer.
Overwhelmed people will not buy. We are wired that way. They also won’t be excited to talk again because overwhelm is stressful.
On the flip side, too many meetings will generate boredom if they are not structured correctly. Each session needs to be valuable and leave the prospect looking forward to the next one.
Relationship-based sales methods build the “know, like, and trust” aspect over time. However, when not combined with other techniques, they often don’t generate value during most sales meetings.
Professional service firms often use the consultative selling approach. Other businesses can use this style to create value. It does require more highly trained salespeople or bringing the experts into the sales process.
Challenger sales offer the most potential for value creation during a sales process. Business owners are typically surrounded by the same people all the time. Even if they have a culture of openness, it is a closed system. Challenger salespeople challenge the standard way of doing things and point out other options – including ones they don’t sell. This style builds up the most trust and value.
Note that all three styles can be employed concurrently.
Marketing and Sales Integration
Once you have your sale process well defined, you are then able to integrate it with the marketing process. Going one step beyond that allows you to automate parts of the sales process.
This clarity frees up the sales team for tasks where they create more value for clients. Let’s face it, if you can find it on the Internet, you don’t need to get it from a salesperson. The salesperson should be adding insight and experience.
As an aside, the tight integration of sales and marketing is often called smarketing.
Defining What Makes You Successful at Sales
By defining your sales process, you can then efficiently train new salespeople in what works. They can adapt appropriate portions for their natural styles. You get more consistent revenue results across the team.
The process is never really done. You measure, learn, adapt, and repeat – continuously getting better.
It might make you feel good to be indispensable at sales, but the limitations on business growth, burn-out factors, and organizational risks just aren’t worth it.
Define the process and knowledge of what makes you successful at sales.