In previous columns I've provided the three components of a brilliant marketing plan and the seven components of a brilliant marketing message. In this column, I'll explain the system that will allow your salespeople to take advantage of every marketing opportunity.
Here's what makes a sales process truly brilliant:
1. It adapts to how customers prefer to buy.
A traditional sales process defines how a vendor or seller prefers and expects to sell their products or services. It starts with the assumption that customers must be persuaded to listen and convinced to buy.
A brilliant sales process defines how a customer expects and prefers to buy the products or services you're selling. It starts with the assumption that customers have a problem or goal that you can help them overcome or achieve.
2. Its steps match the customer's buying process.
A traditional sales process consists of list of actions that the salesperson takes to move the sale forward. Example: 1) contact customer, 2) make appointment, 3) give presentation, 4) provide contract, 5) close sale.
A brilliant sales process consists of smaller decisions the customer makes before making the decision to buy. Example: 1) identifies need, 2) allocates budget, 3) requests proposals, 4) evaluates alternatives, 5) reaches consensus.
3. It specifies milestone dates for all buying steps.
A traditional sales process crams the steps of the sales process into the seller's monthly or quarterly sales forecasts. As a result, salespeople become increasingly frantic as their sales deadlines approach.
A brilliant sales process has the seller and buyer agree upon the most likely milestone for each step in the customer's buying process. If an opportunity stalls, salespeople immediately know when and why.
4. It defines how salespeople help with each milestones.
A traditional sales process leaves salespeople waiting to hear from the customer, should the customer need help or have a request for "more information."
A brilliant sales process reaches an understanding between buyer and seller what the salesperson must provide in order to best help the customer make the right decision.
5. It identifies stakeholders and roles they play.
A traditional sales process attempts to convince a single "decision-maker" to buy. It's then assumed that the "decision-maker," typically a C-level executive, has the power to "write a check."
A brilliant sales process recognizes that, even inside small companies, multiple people hold buying power and veto power. It addresses the concerns of these stakeholders at each stage of the buying process.
6. It requires little or no clerical work.
A traditional sales process uses a CRM system to slice, dice, report and analyze every sale from every which way. In almost every case, the effort it takes to populate the database greater than the benefit the CRM system provides.
A brilliant sales process can be explained in a few minutes. It may use a CRM system, but only when and if the CRM system makes it easier for the salesperson to work the sales process.