Regardless of what company, industry, or market you work in, the sales process almost always remains the same. Once you have some experience under your belt you may add your own variances and personal touches, tailoring the process more specifically to your prospects and industry. However, the core steps will always remain the same.
1. Cold Calling (Prospecting)
Prospecting, also known as cold calling is the first step in the sales process and also one of the most important. This is where salespeople find prospects to sell their products or services too. Ultimately, the more prospects you can find that are interested in what you have to sell, the more deals you will close and the more money you will make.
In-person calls and phone calls are the two main types of cold calling. In-person calls are where an outside salesperson goes to a business or consumers physical location to gather information and set an appointment with a decision maker. Phone calls are used for the same reasons as in-person calls but can be used as a more targeted way to set appointments if you already know who the decision maker is. There are many effective techniques and talk tracks that are used by different salespeople. You will be able to find one that fits your personality through practice, trial, and error.
2. The First Appointment
The reason behind a cold call is to schedule a first appointment with the consumer or correct contact within an organization. The first appointment is used to get your foot in the door. Without an appointment it will be very hard to build rapport and exchange enough information for you to make a sale.
During the first appointment it is important to set the agenda for the entire sales process, and ask enough questions to qualify the customer. At the end of the first appointment it is imperative that you ask for and schedule a second appointment. For a step-by-step explanation of how to run an effective first appointment, click here.
3. Discovery Phase
The discovery phase starts with the second appointment and can ends when you have enough information for a proper presentation. You have now gathered enough information from the prospect to have an idea of what product or service will be the best fit. Now it is time for you to really dig in deeper for more crucial information.
The information that you uncover during this phase will be the ammunition you use to get the prospect to buy your product or service.
Many people think that most of a salespersons day is spent presenting. Although that would be nice, it is not the case. The presentation only comes when you have made it through the first 3 steps effectively. Some sales representatives may call this step a “Validation Appointment”. Either way, it is the chance for you to use the information that you have gathered to show the consumer or organization why they need your help. In other words, to validate and confirm that closing the deal will make sense for both parties.
There are a couple of key points that you MUST go over in your presentation. In most cases, if you have built enough rapport through the first three steps, and come prepared with a strong presentation, you will win the business.
Closing is probably the most talked about step in the sales process. Yes, closing is very important; however, closing should be the easiest step of them all if you have followed the process correctly. Many new salespeople believe that the closing appointment is the most stressful. It can feel weird to ask for a company’s business the first couple of times, but the more you do it the easier it gets! There are many different closing styles and techniques that are used. I believe you should figure out what technique you are most comfortable with and perfect it.
6. Post Sale
Communication is key when handling a new customer. Having just won their business you will want to make sure that they are extremely happy with the transition. Change is hard, especially for businesses. It will be your job to help make the process go as smoothly as possible. Depending on the product or service being sold, you might have to set up training, help with implementation, and answer a lot of questions. Don’t worry though; you have made it this far, which means you won!