If you’re new to business, going out there and trying to sell your product or service can seem futile after you hit a few “no’s.” However, when somebody does express interest, not having a plan for what happens next can be equally as damaging. Whether your sales department is a team of agents or just yourself and a phone, being able to visualize the flow of your average sale helps organize and prioritize your leads.
Establishing your sales process helps you to close more sales by envisioning the progression that each enquiry will take. Below, we’ll talk you through a step by step guide to an average, basic sales process. These specific stages may not suit your particular line of business, but they may help you to take a good long look at each step your average lead goes through – from stranger to satisfied customer. Our previous article about sales funnels is also worth a read for making a mental image of this.
Having a defined and well-recorded sales process also allows you or your sales agents to pick up and put down leads easily. For example, in the event of the dreaded “call us again in six months,” if each contact is categorized by their place within the sales process, you can immediately tell how far along you were with that person after any amount of time has elapsed and picked things up again, no questions asked.
- Currently Uninterested Lead
The “uninterested lead” represents the stage where no formal approach has come from you and no enquiry has come from them. You don’t necessarily know what their position is with regards to purchasing services like yours. Make the first move; send an email to those who may be interested in what you offer. Use social media, especially LinkedIn, alongside information from their company’s website to research the business before you make any contact. This way you can go into the conversation knowing some basic information about the lead and what they may require from you. Follow up any email prospecting with a phone call to discuss queries and generally gauge their reaction.
- Interested Lead
Once a lead starts to show signs of interest by asking their own questions about your services, don’t be tempted to close the sale immediately. Make sure that all preliminary information about your service is being conveyed and that the client has covered all of their basics too. If you’re calling them out of the blue, always ask whether they’re OK to talk. If they’ve reached this stage, they already have their own questions, so focus on being there to help. If you call a bad time, try and arrange a set time to call back.
- Active Enquiry
This is the stage where the client is seriously considering your offer. Your most important job at this stage is to address any specific concerns they may have, provide the tangible benefits of working with you, and try to get them to agree to a quote. Never be pushy – remember that this person probably receives numerous sales calls each day, usually from sales agents that do use pushy tactics. If you seem genuine, you’re like a breath of fresh air. Simply find out their specific needs and pair those with your most appropriate offering.
- Sent Quote
At this stage, bear in mind all of the clients’ prior requirements and worries, and give them an honest quote for your most compatible offering. Always include details about all costs, so no surprise charges appear to your client later down the line. However, remember that a quote is just that – a quotation, an estimate. If the scope of the project changes, don’t feel you have to stick to your old quote. Have a conversation with your client about their new needs and ensure that they understand that any alterations come with a change to the price.
- Agreed Quote and Invoicing
This step occurs when a client has agreed to a quote. Your company may now need to provide an invoice as appropriate, depending on how your payment terms work. Make sure you include all information the client might need to make a timely payment. Now would also be a good time to provide your trading terms for the client to agree, so everyone’s on the same page with regards to what is expected.
- Payment Received
Ensure that payment has been made and send a confirmation to the client once it’s been received. Patiently help any client who is having trouble making payment, and if you can possibly provide an alternative method of payment, just in case, then do so. Once all payment has been received you can plough on with preparing/delivering the finished product.
This is the stage where you provide the client with the finished product. But just because all money and services have changed hands doesn’t mean the formalities are over. After sales is an important step for many industries; supporting the client post-transaction is an important step in making sure the customer gets the most out of working with you, so they’ll be more likely to come back. Asking for a review or testimonial is also a good idea once any and all queries have been cleared up.
Once you drill down your individual sales process, you’re set to succeed. Take all steps of your individual process into account and categorize all leads by their place within it.
Envisioning your average sales flow gives your sales team a blueprint of how every sale should proceed. It helps you focus on assisting your customer, whilst also having a clear idea of how far down the line they are. Once you have a plan in mind and every lead is categorised by their place in your process, your sales team will have a solid foundation to work with.