Straighten Up Your Sales Process

This article examines three components of a successful sales strategy.

Sales is the most important function within any organization, 
because nothing happens in business until a sale is made. To take that one step further, no sale is successful until the invoice is paid. We all know that salespeople are essential to the sale, so in this article we will examine three components of a successful sales strategy after the appropriate sales candidate is hired. 

Systems and processes. The sales strategy should include a multifaceted customer development approach that includes systems and processes to achieve successful, repeatable sales. For example, procedures for how the company goes to market and how the sales team approaches various markets. These should be supported by realistic goals, objectives and results-driven measurables, as well as hands-on involvement from management. 

A well-designed plan, communicated clearly and concisely, will define the sales team’s focus, direction and expectations. These expectations should include a step-by-step roadmap for defining target customers, securing follow-up visits to each target customer, understanding the relationship between your products/services and customer needs, and supporting the 
customer as further needs are identified. A multifaceted contact plan includes cold calls, face-to-face sales calls, emails, regular mail, newsletters, etc.

Target customers. Targeted marketing focuses the sales organization on prospects and customers who “need” what the company does/sells. The target list should be based on past company successes. This will help discover companies similar to existing customers within industries, increasing the potential for the “need” to exist. This is also where past successes can be leveraged.  

A solid sales process places the salesperson in front of the target customer with the necessary supports, tools and expertise. This may include relevant product expertise, a questionnaire for qualifying customer needs, quoting experience, and customer testimonials that include pictures and video of products in use.

Application engineering support is essential also. Inside support from an applications standpoint can take a request for quote to a proposal quicker, allowing the sales team to focus on the customer and move on to additional sales calls. 

Bringing the prospective customer to your facility to see your operations and meet the team is another key element in the sales process. Even better is taking the prospect to a satisfied customer who can attest to your company’s quality and service.

Experience and the expert factor will help the sales team secure meetings with the targets, which need to be fed into the sales process, scheduled and worked.  

Account management. Oftentimes, a sales team will need to transition from being salespeople to account managers. Account management can take many forms, but the common denominator is the relationship. As a relationship develops, less time is invested in the front end of the sales process and more time is devoted to managing the account. 

At this point, trust has been established and orders are being repeated, so the salesperson is more of a team member than an outside resource. The sales cycle may transition from rounds of quoting and dealing with competition to order taking, as well as discussing future business trends and projects, working on new products and solutions, and helping instead of selling. Account management involves providing solutions and following up on the results and future needs.  

Creating the vision of the sales process for the sales person is critical. The company must constantly communicate the “multifaceted customer development process” to “targeted prospects” with the purpose of turning these prospects into accounts to be “managed.”

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