Login or signup
36
SALES

The Real Truth About Sales Process
 

Sales process is not about how you sell but how the customer buys.

Advertisement

Every company needs a sales process, right? Well, sort of. The sales process inside most firms look something like this:

  1. Engage customer.
  2. Investigate needs.
  3. Present a product.
  4. Demonstrate the product.
  5. Propose a purchase.
  6. Negotiate terms.
  7. Answer objections.
  8. Close the deal.

There's only one problem: this kind of sales process never works.

Here's why. Customers don't want you to sell anything to them. Customers have their own idea about how they want to buy something. They deeply resent it when you try to make them dance to your pre-determined tune.

To be effective, a sales process must be based upon the customer's buying process, which is the set of decisions that the customer wants to make, in the order that the customer wants to make them. In B2B selling, the buying process usually looks like this:

  1. The customer decides there's a problem or opportunity.
  2. The customer quantifies the economic consequences.
  3. The customer decides to commit funding.
  4. The customer defines their selection criteria for a solution.
  5. The customer evaluates alternatives for benefits and risks.
  6. The customer selects a vendor (or decides not to buy at all).

Your "sales process" must adapt to the decisions that the customer needs to make at each stage of their buying process. Your job is to help the customer make the best decision, for that customer (and not necessarily for you or your firm!)

For example, suppose a customer accesses your website and asks for some information about, say, your supply chain software solution. At that point you already know that the customer has decided there's a problem or opportunity.

Therefore, the next step in your sales process is to help the customer quantify that problem or opportunity in financial terms so that it can be prioritized versus all the other financial demands inside the customer's firm.

If you followed the old "vendor-centric" sales process, you'd probably try to get into a discussion about needs (too late for this) or perhaps try to demonstrate a product (way too early for this).

More importantly, introducing those elements into the discussion will distract you from the next two steps, especially defining the selection criteria, where your real challenge is to ensure those criteria emphasize your offering's unique features.

Furthermore, if you're trying to answer objections and close the deal before the customer has quantified and prioritized the finances, you're setting yourself up to spend a lot of time selling to a customer who may not really see the need to buy.

So here's the real truth about sales process: it must be adaptive rather than manipulative.

Make that crucial distinction and your sales process will help, rather than hinder, your sales efforts.

Like this post? If so, sign up for the free Sales Source newsletter.

IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: May 24, 2013

GEOFFREY JAMES did a lot of business stuff and wrote a slew of articles and books. Now he writes this column. Preorder his new book, Business Without the Bullsh*t, by May 12 and get an exclusive bonus chapter and a signed bookplate.
@Sales_Source




Register on Inc.com today to get full access to:
All articles  |  Magazine archives | Comment and share features
EMAIL
PASSWORD
EMAIL
FIRST NAME
LAST NAME
EMAIL
PASSWORD

Or sign up using: