Most small businesses tend to grow a little haphazardly during their first few years. While that may be okay at the start, unfortunately, many of them continue to grow that way and their business processes can become difficult to manage effectively.
For business leaders, it can be hard to see their own businesses objectively in terms of how they function. There is an effective approach, however, that can help. I suggest viewing your business as six major areas of accountability. Let’s call them Finance, Management, Marketing, Brand, Sales and Delivery.
Today, I want to take moment to look with you at the Sales operations of your business.
Don’t Sell Me, Bro!
As a business owner, you know that sales are the lifeblood of your business. In fact, you may still be the chief salesperson for your own company.
But have you really analyzed your company’s sales process? Does your company even have one? Many don’t. Fortunately, developing an effective sales approach is not as complicated or intimidating as you might think.
Much has changed with selling over the last few decades. Consumers have become far more resistant to advertising and sales methods. In addition, they can now access a world of information, thanks to the Internet. They can check prices, read reviews and ratings, and – if they don’t like what they see -your competition is only a click away.
Fortunately, prospects cannot experience a relationship with your business that way, and this is where the integrity of your brand can rise above the others. The old approach to sales, with scripts, responses to ojections, and alway pushing to “close the sale” just doesn’t work anymore. “Selling” is going the way of VHS tapes and CDs.
However, the good news is it’s far easier to sell your product or service than ever before. Selling becomes more of an act of “conversion” when you adopt new strategies and create a sales process that comes from and supports your vision and your brand’s shared values. In other words, instead of employing tactics to convince someone to buy, you are actually facilitating the process of converting them into a customer.
Is this just “feel good” hype? Not at all. Contrary to what many believe, it’s the salesperson, not the customer, who is the problem when it comes to sales. If your branding and your marketing are consistent, authentic and resonates with your customers and prospects, they will already be at the place in their buyer’s journey where they are ready to make a purchase.
Your prospects will become your customers if you give them what they need to make their purchase decision. Sales conversions happen in alignment with your brand and marketing, and the relationship is continually reinforced through delivery.
Customers Are Created, Not Coerced
It may seem completely counter-intuitive, but your salespeople (or you if you’re the only salesperson) must become indifferent to the “closing the sale.” Instead, you have to create a process for selling that communicates to your customer in the way they want to be related to.
This means knowing and understanding your customers intimately. And, once you’ve created a clear sales “roadmap” for you and your salespeople to follow, you can track your progress and continually innovate and improve the process. Which is far more effective that just trying things and never knowing what works and what doesn’t.
But the key is to focus on the process, instead of only focusing on making the sale.
Of course, this means creating a process — your own sales process — which gives everyone on your sales team the tools and channels to accommodate your prospects’ decision-making preferences. And, once you have this process in place, you have the structure that will allow you to completely focus on your customer’s needs, and ultimately let the sale take care of itself.
Your sales team members need to have confidence in your brand and embrace your brand story. In addition, they needs to completely believe in the advantages, benefits, and feeling that their customer will receive by forming a relationship with your company.
There’s a Process for That
There are three main concepts you need to embrace regarding your sales process:
Your sales process begins with your brand. Your sales process must be based on your brand. If you are clear on your brand and consistently communicate what you stand for, you and your sales staff can make a real connection with your customers.
Sales isn’t selling. A single sale rarely creates a real customer. If the focus is on a single transaction, then it’s about the sale, not the customer. But a real customer is not a one-time thing. Their needs, not the mechanics of a sales technique, must drive your sales process.
It’s not a sale, it’s a relationship. Nearly every aspect of the business processes should be geared toward building a relationship with your prospective customers. By taking your focus off the sale and concentrating on your customers’ needs, you send a powerful message of genuine customer care that will earn their continued loyalty.
The goal is to build a unique sales process that is systematized and optimized through observation, innovation, and quantification. Your company’s sales process should not be left to the whims of individual sales people. And it should be based firmly on your brand.
A common misconception is that it’s impossible to create a process for sales; that it’s too individual, too dependent on personalities. While it’s true that some aspects of sales can’t be systematized, there are patterns of action and thought in your prospective customers that repeat themselves over and over.
And there are patterns in how you and your people respond to prospective customers, some of which work better than others.
The key is to identify these. Observe your prospects and salespeople in action. Talk to them. And soon the patterns will emerge. When you can see these patterns clearly, you’ll be able to build your unique sales process.
If you’d like to start improving your sales process, please sign up for a free consultation where we can discuss this or another topic that will move your business forward. And be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for videos on this and other business success topics. Also, click this link to take my free Assessments.