Any company’s sales process has to evolve but with the rapid change in the buyer’s journey many sales leaders are finding the processes need to go through a fine tune. A good builder relies heavily on the architect. They provide the expertise to make a building strong and beautiful. In addition, they have defined steps in the building process for the builder to follow to ensure it gets built according to specification.
When something goes wrong, they can work together to determine what did not go according to plan and what needs to be improved. This process plays a critical role in construction projects all over the world.
Selling or sales should work in a similar way. Every business or sales team usually have a defined sales process (formal or informal) they follow to make sure they are successful. But what happens when sales slow or the rate of customer acquisition declines?
Maybe the buyer and the buyer’s journey are different from the buyer the original sales process was created for. As buyer habits evolve in selecting vendors maybe your process needs to evolve too?
Here are some signs that your sales process may need tuning and some suggestions on what you can do to give it a boost.
Rely too heavily on cold leads
The major obstacle to scaling a business is the over reliance on cold leads and a lack of warm leads entering the sales pipeline. In the more traditional selling model, agents had to rely on bought in data or lists to generate leads, or more likely source cold prospects from social networks like LinkedIn based on their titles rather than some expression of interest. These increasingly ineffective sales strategies have the effect of slowing down the sales process and extending the sales cycle. Why? Because agents are doing “interruption selling”, that is trying to sell to prospects that have never expressed any consideration of engaging with your company, they might not even be aware of your company. So these cold calls are fighting the tide of buyer non interest in your product (in fact they may not even need or benefit from what the agent is selling).
Sales process is about better ways of selling and making sales peoples efforts more productive
Would not a more productive process be for the agents to engage prospects based on what they do, not who they are. Let me expand this out further, who do you think is closer to considering a purchase, a buyer who has never visited your company’s website, never read one of your blogs and has no idea who you are, but has the title “CEO” on their LinkedIn profile or a purchasing manager who has liked some of your articles and checked out your LinkedIn profile in the past few days? Well?
CRM tools and lead generation tools can make agents life a lot easier and can be a critical tool in identifying buyer interest. For inbound marketing tools like Hubspot and Marketo are great, for CRM and pipeline management try Pipedrive, for automated lead generation try Connectors Marketplace.
Poor prospect connect rates
As much as we might fight it, the reality is cold calling is declining fast. Interruption marketing and selling has lost its place in the pecking order to acquire new customers. Studies show that now only approx. 2% of cold calls result in a meeting. And it takes up to 8 attempts to get to speak to the prospect!! If agents are making 800 calls, talking to 100 prospects and only securing 2 meetings, that might suggest a malfunction in the sales process.
Think Social Selling. Sharing great articles and using these to developing rapport and engagement with a prospect online before reaching out is maybe a step in the sales process companies should consider. Armed with articles and white papers, agents can identify where prospects hang out online then engage buyers in social conversations, have constructive debates based on content shared, and gradually begin to add value. This means that when the agent tries to connect on LinkedIn or makes that call their name will be familiar to the buyer, leading to far higher response rates.
Provide “value touches”
Anyone who just sends out email after email of worthless follow up emails are most likely wasting everyone’s because in today’s digital world, buyers seek out value (awareness and consideration phase in buyers journey) from the seller. When a potential customer receives constant “just touching base” emails, they fail to see a return on the time they are being asked to invest and statistics prove they most likely will not respond.
Smart sales agents will focus on providing value in the form of relevant content and materials to the prospective buyer as well as guiding them (not interrupting them) through their individual buying journey on their timeline. There are numerous ways to provide value in email and social media communication such as case studies, customer reviews, market research or mutual interests.
Every buyer has a deciding point, when they either consider or discount your product. So bearing this in mind, make sure each and every customer touch provides value.
A great source of new customers is from existing ones
This is a well worn sales tip but never goes out of fashion. Ensure sales agents are proactive with engaging with existing customer database. Being proactive means soliciting feedback and staying in regularly contact which pre-empts any issues. By engaging with customers often and ensuring that all is OK, sales people can build a level of trust that leads to the customer staying a customer.
Next, enlist existing customers help to generate leads. A referral program when implemented correctly as part of the sales process can bring a steady flow of warm leads, which we know close at higher rates and quicker than cold prospects.
Any sales team is only as strong as the sales process they work with. As the modern buyers journey changes, so does a company’s sales process. The sales rules are being rewritten and a new way of selling is emerging. Businesses and agents who focus on building relationships, sharing, educating, utilizing social selling and guiding their prospects and customers are moving clear of the chasing pack in winning more sales.