Sales are the lifeblood of any organization.
Sales are a fresh start with new accounts and a path forward. Sales open new revenue streams and improve company cash flow. A healthy and thriving company often has a successful sales culture, but how do you shorten the sales cycle? How does your company get closer to the close? It’s a question your whole team should be able to answer. We’re living in an age of team selling. Sales aren’t just about the sales person. Selling a real solution involves the entire team, from customer acquisition to product delivery and service.
The role of a salesperson is to quarterback the sales process and guide a potential buyer to a solution that best serves them. In some cases, and in more complex sales processes, team selling is most effective. For example, bringing in an experienced developer to discuss backend functionality so that it best fits into the customer’s’ existing operations can eliminate a lot of back and forth between the team. This approach addresses the need directly, showcases competence and exposes the prospect to the depth of the team.
While the role of the sales person is to guide the sales process, the role of the marketer is to create a funnel that the salesperson can manage. After all, a salesperson has an easier time being introduced into a given situation than forcing their way through. Customer referrals are the best example of this idea in motion, but what if that’s not enough? We know that even if you have happy customers, only a few people are prone to refer you- even if you ask. Fewer still, there are some that won’t- no matter how much you ask or how happy you make them. What’s the next best thing? Creating brand awareness so that a prospect is familiar with your company.
Marketers follow this building block logic well…
To piggyback on that, there are two common forms of customer acquisition: outbound and inbound.
Outbound sales are the more traditional form: Company A finds Consumer B, diagnoses needs, and proposes a given solution. Inbound sales are the new wave: Consumer A finds Company B, self-prescribes a solution and reaches out to ask for the assumed solution. Truth be told, in an information era, the latter approach has bred lazy sales people. Healthy sales cultures embrace both forms of customer acquisition. Inbound sales and marketing efforts make outbound sales more effective. Inbound sales tactics are more easily scaled than outbound efforts but can be iterated and refined to be more effective- just like an outbound process.
In modern selling, the probability to close starts with the first touch.
Does your website, social media platform or email marketing messaging accurately depict the pain that you’re prepared to solve? When you first engage with a prospect are you describing who and how you typically help people? If not, your lack of clarity could be adding unnecessary days (or even months) onto your sales cycle.
Each step in the sales process should resolve in an answer. Each touchpoint should have a defined objective. Each “checkpoint” along the way should either further qualify or disqualify a lead. The close shouldn’t be the first time that a decision is required. It’s simply the only decision left to make.
It’s time for a decision. It’s do or die. Now or never. Yes or no. As a sales person, getting closer to the close requires yes’s and no’s.
Through a sales process a sales person should be tackling two main objectives:
- Do I understand this prospect’s real needs?
- Am I effectively conveying how we can address these needs? Or, have I decided that we’re not a good fit?
Each step in the sales process should be tied back to answering those two questions. The cliche “sales is a numbers game”, is true. The great salespeople know how many no’s they need to collect before a yes is achieved. Knowing these numbers should put the salesperson and the company at ease.
There is no magical trick to a close. It’s following a sales process, qualifying and disqualifying along the way. Never fear a ‘no’. You’re simply that much closer to a, ‘yes’.
Not sure how to craft a sales process for you or your team? I have a referral for you.