According to a report by the United States government, 14.4 million people are employed in sales, representing 9.8 percent of U.S. employment. No matter which industry you are in, every salesperson follows similar steps for selling.
Even for an experienced salesperson, sometimes it can be challenging to turn potential leads into closed sales. Having a sales process ensures that you have got a consistent method to nurture the leads.
Think of it as meeting a new contact. You don’t jump into the presentation. Right? First, you ask them about their needs. Then, you talk to them about their budget. If they qualify, then you take the next step of convincing them to buy.
You can follow the steps written in this article to create a tailored sales process for your business. This will help you to close more deals and maintain good relationships with your prospective customers.
Selling is difficult in today’s complex buying-selling environment. Customers have access to myriad sites to view product information. The competition is tough, and buyers are confused about their needs.
Implementing a proper sales process for your business can make your sales representatives more efficient and consistent.
A sales process refers to the set of steps taken by your sales team to convert a prospect to a customer. A sales process is also known as sales funnel. A robust sales process can help your sales team to shorten the time to convert a deal and close more deals.
An efficient sales process will help you to maintain excellent and consistent relationships with your prospective customers. Once you have finalised your organisation’s sales process, you can create a sales pipeline in your CRM software.
Defining a sales process that compliments your business goals, customers, sales team, and products can be challenging at times. You can follow the steps written in this guide to define the ultimate sales process that suits your business goals.
Now that we have understood the sales process, let us go through the different sales process steps to create an excellent sales process for your team.
- Need assessment
- Handle objections
- Follow-ups for repeat sales and referrals
Prospecting is the process of generating more business by searching for potential customers. It involves extensive research to find out prospects who might be interested in your products and services.
There are different ways of collecting lead data, such as marketing campaigns, online research on social networking sites, industry events. Some prospects may also reach you via existing customer referrals. Read this article to find out more about marketing ideas to generate more leads.
The second step of the sales process is the sales qualification. Sales qualification refers to gathering more information from your prospects to decide if they are interested in your products and services.
Lead qualification is the most crucial step in the sales cycle. You do not want to spend your time with a prospect who will not buy your products.
A sales representative typically asks sales questions to identify prospects' needs and their interest to pursue the deal.
This step involves extensive research about your prospect requirements. Understanding your prospect’s pain points helps you to offer tailored solutions and personalised experiences.
The crucial part of the need assessment step is to learn more about your prospect’s business problems and challenges.
If you can convince your prospect that your product can solve their problem, there is an excellent chance that you will close the deal. Generally, a salesperson calls the prospects and gets a clear understanding of their business needs.
A deal only reaches the presentation stage when the prospect is serious about buying. Presentation is the time when you make your first sales pitch and impress prospects with your solution.
Your salesperson runs a formal presentation or product demonstration of your products and services for your prospect.
Presentation is a very time-consuming step as you need to prepare your sales strategy and documents for your presentation. You must qualify the deals before spending much time preparing for a sales strategy or presentation for prospects. You don't want to waste your time on prospects which are not serious about buying.
Each presentation should meet the prospect’s requirements and address all the customer’s pain points previously gathered during the assessment phase.
If you are in software development, you can demonstrate some of your software to win the prospect’s confidence. You can also bring along your engineer to answer more technical sales questions.
The next step is to handle objections or concerns highlighted by the prospects.
Once you have presented your solution, your customer will share all the issues or concerns.
Your sales team should anticipate possible objections through their research and be prepared to handle them. Your prospect may raise objections about price, contract duration, on-boarding, features, etc.
Your deal approaches this stage when it is very close to finalising the deal. This stage includes things like sharing the final proposal, negotiation, achieving the confidence of key decision-makers. These actions vary from company to company.
Once the deal is finalised, the salesperson receives the commission. The commission amount is calculated on the total contract or sales amount.
Once the deal is closed, the account is transferred to the account manager or customer success representative.
Follow-ups for repeat sales and referrals
Although closing a deal is the main goal in sales but even after-sales, sales representatives should continue working with customers for repeat sales, renewals, and referrals.
Sales representatives should follow up with the customers to ensure they are satisfied with the purchase. Customer retention is very important because you spend a lot of time and effort into acquiring new customers.
The sales representatives should continue to communicate with the customers to reinforce value. This can provide opportunities to upsell and secure referrals in the future.
Now that we have understood the sales process, we have explained the most commonly used sales methodologies in the next section.
A sales methodology is the philosophy of business to carry out the sales. Sales methodologies are different ways your team approaches the sales process.
Choosing the right sales methodology can help your sales team approach your sales process better.
Here we have explained five popular sales methodologies.
Challenger Sales Methodology
The Challenger Sales Methodology focuses on educating, customising, and taking control of the sales experience. Using the Challenger Sales Methodology, sales reps drive conversations with customers.
In this sales methodology, sales representatives focus on teaching the prospect and behave as a consultant. Sales representatives tailor their solutions after understanding the customer business and pain points and challenge the prospect’s preconceptions.
Solution selling focus mainly on addressing the customer’s pain points instead of selling products or services. Products and services are tailored to address customer needs and pain points.
Sandler Sales Methodology
The Sandler Sales methodology says that both buyer and seller are equally committed to the sales process. Sales representatives are trained to address all the customers' objections, and the buyer is convincing the salesperson to make the sales.
According to Consultative Sales methodology, a salesperson becomes a trusted advisor to the customer. In this sales methodology, sales representatives gain trust over time.
The consultative sale happens when the selling experience aligns with the customer's buying experience, and the customer-salesperson relationship defines it.
The inbound sales approach focuses on attracting buyers with relevant content rather than advertising. This is a very commonly used technique.
With so many options available, it is essential to target prospects with tailored content addressing their needs.
According to the inbound sales approach, buyers can find all the information about products and services online.
Nowadays, buyers do not prefer cold and interruptive sales calls, emails. They want to try the experience before purchasing and buy as per their convenience. They hate to be pushed by salespeople.
With these shifts in buying trends, sales teams must adopt a more innovative selling way, such as inbound selling.
Sales Process vs. Sales Methodologies
A lot of people confuse the sales process with sales methodology. Sales process and sales methodology are different things, but they are closely related to each other.
A sales process is a set of steps your sales team follows to close a deal. A sales process has high-level steps that your sales team follows.
A sales methodology is the philosophy of business to carry out the sales. Sales methodologies are different ways your team approaches the sales process.
Now that we have understood the sales process and sales methodologies, we have mentioned 25 sales questions, which will help you qualify your leads.
25 sales questions every salesperson must ask during the first call
If you are struggling to make the right impression on your prospects, you have reached the right place.
How do you convince prospects to talk to you in the first sales call?
Have you heard the famous quote - “The first impression is the last impression”?
We will guide you through the sales qualification questions and how to get the most relevant information from your first sales call.
So how to ensure that you are qualifying prospects who have a high probability of buying your products and services.
The only way is to ask the right sales questions and get the correct information.
Remember that sales qualification is a game of sales questions to get the most out of your prospects and determine if they will buy.
Here we have listed 25 sales questions and their importance.
How did you hear about us?
You may be receiving leads from various sources such as social media, advertising, marketing campaigns, webinars, etc.
Some leads may have found you on social media, while others may have seen your advertisement. You must find out how the lead found you to understand the best way to move forward with the sale.
Referrals are also a very common way to get new leads. If the lead has approached you via referral, there is a very good chance that they will buy from you.
May I know more about your business?
You must do your homework before making your first sales call.
To prove that you can add value to their business, you should be aware of their business problems.
Ask questions to understand your prospect’s business challenges and propose solutions. If they see the value, they will buy your products.
Who are your customers?
These sales questions help you get the conversation going and get a clear picture of how big the prospect’s business is.
You might find some exciting names which are already your customers. If your prospect’s customers are delighted with your solution, there might be an excellent chance that they will buy from you.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Ask your lead to highlight weaknesses and strengths about their own business. This will help you to understand their perspective.
Once you know their strengths and weaknesses, you can map your solution accordingly. Try to address all the shortcomings; your main goal here is to help your lead find the right solution.
Where do you see your competitors getting ahead of you?
Ask your lead if they believe their competitors are ahead of them. This will make them think about the areas where their competitors are doing better.
Propose your solution and ask them to visualise similar success.
What attracted you to our solution?
Try to find the main factors that attract lead to your solution. It might be good reviews, pricing, or features, etc.. Understanding the factor will help you focus more on their priorities.
If a lead mentions that they are attracted to pricing, this means that they are tight on budget. Once you know the factor, you can focus on conversations around pricing.
Could you tell me about your business problems?
Remember, the first sales call is all about knowing your future customers better. All your prospects want to know is if you can solve their problems.
When you ask a customer about their business problem, they think that you want to know more about their problems to solve it.
Also, open-ended sales questions put your customers at ease, and it’s a great way to gather more information about their business.
Did you try anything to solve your problems?
A good salesperson always listens to their prospective customers carefully and asks the most logical sales questions from the response.
It might happen that your lead has already tried the solution you are proposing.
Example question role play:
[Prospect] "I have difficulty in locating goods in my warehouse."
[Salesperson] "Have you installed rack and shelves? or tried any other method to arrange goods in your warehouse?”
[Prospect] "yes, I have created a floor plan, but I have not arranged goods in racks and shelves ."
[Salesperson] "How did you create a floor plan? How do you arrange your goods now?"
Did this specific solution help you?
Show your expertise by mentioning some solutions. Your prospect will only buy if they are convinced that you know more than them.
Remember, your prospective customers want guidance from you.
They will only accept your solution if you can propose the right solution to their problems. Avoid solutions that will confuse your prospects.
Why did you choose this solution to solve your business problem?
Your prospect will only buy your solution if they are convinced that your solution can help them.
If you understand all the issues or problems faced by customers, then only you can address them.
Listen to your prospects carefully and make your solution address all of the pain-points.
Why did you choose that agency or vendor?
Sometimes when conversing with prospects, simple “why” questions can help you keep the conversation going.
You get the right information to help your prospects and determine if they're the right fit.
What are your business goals?
Ask simple sales questions to understand your prospective customer’s mindset.
Some prospects want a short-term solution, or some might have the next ten years plan in their mind. Once you understand their expectations, you can propose a solution accordingly.
How do you evaluate and choose new products for your business?
Start with general open-ended sales questions to make your prospects comfortable.
If you directly jump into the budget and financial ability, your prospect may become uncomfortable.
Building trust is essential for any sale. Once your prospects believe in you, they will share all the relevant information.
How would this solution impact your business?
Never assume that your prospect knows all the benefits of your products and services.
Asking them these sales questions will help you understand if they believe in your solution. If you see any hesitation, this means that the prospect is not convinced.
What's holding you back?
Even though your prospect is very happy with your solution, but he might be holding back due to some reason.
When you ask this question, your customer will share all the concerns preventing them from buying. If you can address all your customer’s concerns, the sale is yours.
Have you considered this methodology to solve your business problem?
Remember, you are there to solve their problems. If you behave like a consultant, they will trust you more.
Ask sales questions in a very relaxed tone, but the customer should always believe that you are an industry expert in this field.
Give customers time to think and reply. Never push your customers to answer the questions. Your job is to build trust.
Was budget a constraint when you were trying to solve this problem previously?
You do not want to ask direct questions related to the budget. This may put your prospect in an uncomfortable situation.
Always ask some transitional sales questions to make your prospects more comfortable.
This will give you an idea of the budget. This question will also help you to bridge the gap between your solution and the prospect’s budget.
What is more critical: efficiency or money?
Ask your lead about their top priority as they can’t have both on a smaller budget. You will get their priority straight once you ask these sales questions.
Once you get the answer, then craft your solution accordingly. If your lead chooses productivity, then they will be focusing more on the features or benefits which your solution has proposed. If they select a price, then they are looking for a more budget-friendly solution.
Why do you want to solve this problem now?
When you ask direct sales questions related to decision making, deadlines to buy, you might make your customer uncomfortable.
It’s crucial to identify the urgency so you can focus on the deal accordingly.
When your prospective customer answers these sales questions, you will get a clear picture of the problem they are trying to solve immediately.
When can we start implementing the solution?
Some leads might want to start immediately in a month, and some are just browsing around to find a solution.
This will clarify whether you need to be aggressive about the solution or focus on nurturing lead for future sales.
How soon do you want to see the results?
Knowing about your prospect expectations can help you better plan your sales strategy. If your lead wants to see results immediately, you want to propose an aggressive solution to solve their problem right away.
If your lead mentions six months or one year down the line, then they are not ready to make the purchase immediately.
Is there any other key decision-maker?
It’s important to keep focussed on sales qualification during your first sales call. These sales questions will help you get more information about other stakeholders involved in the purchasing process.
Here your prospect might introduce you to other stakeholders involved in the buying process. You need to understand and convince different stakeholders to close the deal.
What are your expectations from the new vendor?
Once your prospect has answered the first few sales questions, you will get a clear picture of the prospect’s intentions to buy. Don’t rush the process by immediately talking about your solution.
Ask your leads about their expectations from the new vendor. This will have them mention the key factors which are expected from the new vendor.
You might have solutions to lead’s business problems, but it can help you better understand their expectations.
Remember, you have only one chance to make a great sales pitch. Take time to craft your sales pitch and thoughtfully address all the customer’s pain points.
What are your priorities for your business/team this quarter?
By understanding your prospect’s priorities, you better understand how to help them and develop a solution to address all the pain points.
Ask more questions about their short term and long term goals to understand their priorities.
What are your most significant pain points?
Understanding your prospect’s pain points will help you to define your sales strategy.
Do not try to address solutions to all problems immediately. Instead, ask for more time to prepare for the next meeting. Do your best to handle all the pain points.
Salespeople should only offer a solution after fully understanding the pain points of the lead. The more they know about problems, the better they can assist in solving them.
Thanks for reading our guide to building a sales process. Here’s what we covered in this guide:
- Creating a sales process will help your sales team to close more deals. A good sales process will ensure that your sales team provides a consistent experience to all your prospects.
- A good sales process will help you in building long-lasting relationships. You can try different steps and approaches for your business and see what works best for you. Keep evaluating your sales process and sales methodologies with the changes in the market trend.
- Following with your customers is not enough for closing the sales. You need to convince your lead that you have a solution to their problems. If you can convince them that you can solve the problem, the deal is yours.
- Your customers may have a lot of questions, objections. You have to handle them and convince them to buy. You might have to do repeated meetings to persuade them.
And as usual, make sure to follow the Deskera blog for the best content on managing your business!”