Sales is like a jigsaw puzzle. Instead of physical pieces, it consists of emotions and events that are connected together to create a detailed image of a completed deal. Some emotions and events might be easier to identify while others might be more interesting or exciting. But the puzzle is not complete until ALL the pieces are in their proper place and linked together.
Here are a couple ideas to help outline the framework of the best sales process for you, your clients, and your business.
What do you want to have happen?
Before we can make anything happen, it is crucial that we understand exactly what it is that we want. That’s why puzzles come with a reference image of it completed (except the extremely difficult ones). It helps to share this vision with others so they can see their own role in it.
Start with the most obvious.
Get the YES!, place the order, or sign the contract – at mutually-beneficial terms. (mutually-beneficial is the cornerstone of win-win and long-term success). But this is likely a long journey away, so it helps to build several small ‘sales’ as milestones to keep everyone motivated and ‘on-track’.
Depending on the industry and type of products/services being served, the maturity and branding of the company, the confidence and personal style of the sales professional, as well as market timing and dozens of other factors; this list could be as short as 8-10 points or as long as 25-30.
Some ‘small sales’ might include: Acquire contact information; Get permission to market to them (establish interest); Set appointment; Meet all the decision-makers and influencers; Learn pain-points and desires Understand scope of needs; Be seen as trusted advisor; Receive referrals and introductions to key influencers.
Before we can make ANY of it happen, we need to get them all on paper and organize them by priority. This naturally leads to action steps. Go ahead and write down any that come to mind, but DO NOT take action yet.
Who is ideal audience?
We really must get past thinking our target customer as ‘people who want/need products and have funds to purchase them.’ Traditional demographics should also be tossed out as well.
Smartphones are not just great for users to conveniently check/update social media status and take selfies. They are extremely powerful tools that help (savvy) marketers understand audiences in different ways. This leads to highly customized solutions and offers that make sense for specific individuals rather than gross demographics. This allows us to identify unique ways to communicate value with both new and existing audiences.
Here are some lifestyle criteria to get your thinking started: household income, home value, education, hobbies, digital subscriptions, print subscriptions, preferences, habits, locations frequented, conferences or major event participation, retail orders, loyalty programs, and much more. Once you determine what information is most relevant, you can start leveraging it to attract your ideal audience.
What products/services are available?
Start with a list of each inventory item or or service that can be offered. Define each of them in terms of key features, benefits, distribution models, pricing, and (most importantly) ways they can be used to solve problems.
I challenge clients to make a list of at least 100 unique ways to use products (or problems it solves). Even seasoned sales pros will struggle with this – the point is not necessarily to complete the 100, but to get creative and discover alternative ways customers/users they might use it. This will open countless niches that were never anticipated.
Here is an example you might understand. MP3 players existed long before Apple launched their iPod. They all solved the problem of making music portable. The first iPod made it faster to transfer from computer while giving a luxurious user interface that told other people that you appreciate the intersection of music and technology. The real breakthrough, however, was with the launch of iTunes that made it easy to organize and manage growing music collections and eventually to legally purchase digital content.
Making a list like this provides an incredible arsenal of talking points to help build connections with audiences and help them identify their pain-points.
With these as a foundation, the process can begin to take shape. Be sure to check out next week’s article where we continue with additional steps. This list contains plenty of ideas to get you started.
If you would like a personal consultation on how to build a sales process that fits your business, drop me a line and start the conversation.