As soon as people discover that creating a sales process is integral to sales success, they immediately ask the question, “how do I create one?”
There’s often a sense of urgency – a desire to have the sales process up and running as soon as possible. This enthusiasm is fantastic, but it’s important not to rush the process, just for the sake of getting started. Your sales process forms the core of your entire sales strategy. It influences how productive your employees are, increases accountability across the organisation, and fosters greater pipeline accuracy, on top of myriad other benefits. Such a vital process will take time to get right.
Before you start
In order to develop a highly effective sales process, there’s one thing you need to do before you start putting it together. You need to explore how your target market makes buying decisions.
“It’s one thing talking about a sales process, but did you realise that all clients have a buying process?” says Alex Chan, Global Head of Learning at SalesStar.
“Understanding the buying process is a necessary action for sales process success.”
In fact, according to our research, of the 18 per cent of companies that report a significant increase in sales, an impressive 82 per cent accounted for the buying journey in their sales process.
Mapping out the customer buying journey
How do you map out the buying journey? Here are some questions to consider:
- What trigger events (pain points) create a need for your products?
- What pain points do you solve for your prospects?
- Where do your prospects look for your services? For example, word of mouth, trade journals, blogs, websites, or networking events?
- How do they find out about you, and why would they choose you?
- How can you get shortlisted when they are in the consideration stage?
- On what do your prospects base their decisions? How do they make decisions? For example, a lot of companies make decisions by committee. (Naturally, this will influence how you present your solution).
- How do they like to be sold to?
- Will your customers require a trial of the product or service?
Understanding your target audience’s buying process will help you determine whether they qualify as a potential lead.
“You need to think through their whole buying journey. Once you’ve mapped that out, you can start mapping out your sales process to match it,” says SalesStar founder and group CEO, Paul O’Donohue.
Many business owners skip over the buying process reflection phase, and rush straight into the ‘doing’ phase, chasing solutions and results. However, it’s your ability to think deeply about your target audience that will deliver you the best outcomes.
“You need to discover their pain points, and understand what is required to motivate them to buy,” adds Alex.
“Our clients tell us that as soon as they discover their customer’s pain points (usually around phase 3 of the sales process), the probability of closing the lead suddenly jumps significantly. There’s a direct correlation between understanding your customer’s needs and being able to close a deal.”
For best results, consult an expert
If you want peace of mind, and assurance you’re heading in the right direction, it’s a good idea to recruit a sales process expert. Your sales process is far too important to ‘figure it out as you go’. Bringing an expert on from the beginning will ensure it gets off to a flying start, saving you time and money. The expert will also be able to ask you tough questions, leaving no stone unturned, so that by the time you enter the sales process development stage, you’ll be ready to refine your steps to perfection.
So in summary: research first, act second. It’s not enough just to create a sales process – you have to have a strong understanding of your target customers in order to see top results.