Closing a sale is often seen as the most vital part of any sales process. After all, if a deal doesn’t close, the business does not get a new customer.
Some salespeople specialize in closing, while others have difficulty getting that final contract signed. One of the differences between successful closers and salespeople with a more hit or miss approach is that closers find that the entire sales process is vital.
Successful sales reps value lead intake, lead qualification, understanding the prospect’s needs, presentation, follow-up, and the final close. They know that a process must be followed to close a sale.
Do you have a sales process?
There are essential characteristics that a salesperson must possess. For example, they need to have product knowledge, the ability to communicate with new customers, and be trustworthy. A salesperson must also have a process during which they discover what the potential client is looking for and help determine if your company is the right fit for their need.
This process begins at lead intake and ends at a close.
We start right when a potential customer reaches out because inevitably, there will be leads who are not qualified for one reason or another to buy your company’s product. They may not have the money to pay for the product or service – or your product may be a mismatch for their need. Determining that information at the outset will drastically cut down on the time and energy you spend trying to convert them from a lead to a customer.
Understanding this and the other steps in a sales process will help you know which leads to keep in touch with, which to refer, and which to close right away. Having procedures in place gives you the ability to keep leads in the pipeline and ensure that people who are not qualified to buy are moved to an automated system until they can buy.
Here are the seven parts of the sales process:
- Lead intake
- Qualifying the lead
- Assessing a lead’s needs
- Presenting a proposal to fulfill those needs
- Contract signing
- Client onboarding
This relatively simple process can get more complicated as caveats are put into place. For example, if a lead is not qualified right this second but will be later, they should go into another section of the sales funnel, and the salesperson should keep in touch with them. So, the “follow-up” step can involve many additional steps, depending on a lead’s needs.
Use processes to close more sales
The above was a brief list of the steps one must take to turn a lead into a client. Here, we discuss this process more thoroughly:
- Identify all your lead sources.
- Document how to manage them. Are they funneled into a CRM automatically? Do they subscribe to a drip feed? Make sure all aspects of lead management are covered.
- Gather relevant information from the prospect.
- Collect the best email address from the prospect.
1. Establish an ideal client profile. You need to understand what clients you want to connect with – and whom your business best serves. Ideal clients:
- Want to grow with your business.
- Have the bandwidth/time to avail themselves of your product/services.
- Can afford your services.
- Value your product/service.
2. Assess if your lead fits your ideal client profile.
2A. If a lead does not fit with your ideal client profile but may fit in this profile in the future, transition them to a drip campaign or a follow-up campaign so that you can stay in touch and catch them when they are qualified.
In a needs assessment, you determine if your product and service can meet your lead’s needs. Because you have already established that the prospect fits within your ideal client profile, the needs assessment step will help you match your business with this ideal client more perfectly.
How a needs assessment is completed depends on the industry. However, most salespeople have a series of preset questions they can ask a lead to determine how closely your products match with the lead’s requirements.
Finally, you will need to present how your product/service matches the lead’s requirements. Presentations can be systematized by:
- Creating a checklist of everything the presentation needs to cover.
- Building templates to make customization easier.
- Creating policies around building visual templates.
- Having all decision-makers attend the presentation.
- Ensuring the presentation is a one-time process, not something that creates many meetings and back-and-forth.
After you have done all of the above work, it would be a waste to fail to follow up. However, without a system, the follow-up step can feel burdensome. So, here are the steps you should take when following up with a lead:
Set up an automated follow-up system for the lead. This could be as simple as auto-reminders to text or email the prospect at staggered times after the presentation.
Set up a follow-up routine that you follow every time. It is easy to get distracted by a new prospect and fail to follow up. But, if you have a system that sets follow-up as your priority, you will get it done.
Creating follow-up systems that your sales team follows every time will significantly affect your closing percentage.
Finally, you must close the deal.
Continuing to stay in touch with your lead after the presentation and keeping up the bond you’ve established will go far in closing the contract with your potential client.
If you have had trouble closing deals in the past, systemizing the above steps will help you naturally move from beginning the process to asking for the close. When sales systems are smooth, the lead has a better customer experience and increases trust in your company. Additionally, they enjoy working with you, and closing feels like a natural progression of this relationship.
When you have a tight-knit bond with a new client, it makes it easy to go from closing to client onboarding because you can introduce the customer to the next person and ensure they establish a trusting relationship before you move on to the next sale. This aspect should also be systematized to assure a smooth transition from the sales team to the client servicing team.
Another aspect of systematization that we mentioned at the beginning of this article was having an up-to-date and informative CRM. Utilizing one place to store information about the customer and their past interactions is a fantastic way to support a smooth onboarding process.
This step-by-step “how-to” is covered even more thoroughly in a recent podcast episode of the Systems Simplified podcast. You can listen here for more information.
Finally, if all of the above sounds fantastic, but you don’t feel you have time to systematize your sales process, the Business Success Consulting Group team is here to help. Get in touch today for a free initial consultation.