“Timid Salesmen Have Skinny Kids.” – Zig Ziglar
Sales are the lifeblood of your small business. They are what will put the “cash” into your cash flow. And every small business owner who has been in business more than a day knows how important closing sales are in achieving our business goals and aspirations.
So how do you and your team become great at making sales? I’m not talking about making the occasional one-off sale or having one salesperson on the team who is good while the rest flounder. I am asking, “Do you have a team where every member of your team is empowered and successful, and you do you have strong, consistent and predicable sales results to grow your business?”
For the small business owner wanting to build a successful enterprise, there are two keys. First, is the systematization of the Sales Process. Second, is the tying of that Sales Process to what is called a Sales Pipeline. In a nutshell, your Sales Process is composed of all the interactions and actions you and your team take as you guide a prospect through the Pipeline. The Sales Pipeline is a series of structured steps that you use to guide your prospect toward the sale. While both the Process and the Pipeline are vital, it is only when used together that you will achieve your ultimate success.
A simple Sales Pipeline might look something like this:
A more complex Sales Pipeline might look like the one I use in my coaching firm that has 16 stages to it. It involves the same basic concepts you see in the simple diagram above but breaks them down into even smaller steps.
Developing both a Sales Process and a Sales Pipeline that work seamlessly together to produce strong and consistent sales for your unique company is not an easy task. However, by following these steps, you can design a killer Sales Process and Pipeline and start seeing your sales dramatically improve.
1. THINK THINGS THOUGH FROM YOUR POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS POINT OF VIEW
Designing your Process and Pipeline around your customer is the non-negotiable starting point. To get started you will want to engage in some research. Talk to your potential customers. What are the problems they want solved? What emotional triggers are they feeling? What are their aspirations? Their fears? What objections will keep them from saying “yes.” What solutions do you offer? Creating this customer profile is critical.
2. RESEARCH THE SALES PROCESS AND PIPELINE OF YOUR COMPETITORS
Find out what works for them and what does not work. You do not have to reinvent the wheel entirely. What you do need to do is shorten the learning curve and avoid making unneeded mistakes. At the same time, commit to NOT copying your competition. Your Sales Process and Sales Pipeline need to be unique to you, your company and your customers. What does not have your “voice” will come off as fake. The goal here is to generate ideas so that you can make your unique approach better than anyone else.
3. MAP OUT YOUR SALES PIPELINE
Once your research is complete, you will want to envision and map out the initial draft of the steps you plan to walk your prospect through. Consider the ways to qualify the prospect so you can match them to the appropriate product or service. Also look for ways to break the stages in the Pipeline down so that qualified prospects find it easy to say “yes” to each step in the Pipeline.
4. MAP OUT YOUR SALES PROCESS
Once you have identified the steps you want to use to walk your prospect toward the eventual sale, it is time to get clear as to what steps you and your salespeople will use as you engage them through the Pipeline. Here you should consider the basic scripts used in calls and emails. It is also important to think about what personal touches to build into the Process. The goal is to have a repeatable and scalable Sales Process that every person in your company can use to successfully close sales by building credibility and trust with potential customers.
5. MEASURE AND TEST
The work of perfecting your Process and Pipeline is never done. Once you have your initial Sales Process and Sales Pipeline in place, you will want to perfect it. Here are a few things to focus on.
Flow Rate. In a nutshell: How many people are flowing through your Pipeline, and how fast do they go through it? These are numbers you will want to constantly measure. Optimizing the flow rate will be unique to your company and will be critical for you to identify and monitor.
Overall Conversion Rate. How many prospects turn into customers? Maximize this and you will increase profits.
Critical Step Conversion Rate. In your Sales Pipeline, there should be one or two critical steps that signify your prospect is warming to the sale. Optimizing these points in the Pipeline will be critical in optimizing the overall conversion rate just mentioned. To perfect these critical steps you may want to try different sales scripts, different personal approaches, or even reimagining what the entire step in the Sales Pipeline might look like.
Do Not Stop Testing. While you want your core Sales Process and Pipeline to stay the same, have one or two of your better performing salespeople always be testing out new approaches to perfect them. Even incremental improvements can greatly enhance profits.
6. IT IS STILL ABOUT PEOPLE
At the end of the day, sales is still about people. It is the people designing the Sales Process. It is the people doing the selling. Most of all, it is the people who are our potential customers. So invest in your people even as you perfect the Sales Pipeline and Sales Process. Train them, not once or twice, but constantly. Weave sales training into every work week in some fashion, and you will watch your sales continually climb.
If you want help in perfecting your Sales Process and Pipeline, do not hesitate to reach out to us at Business Builder Leadership Coaching. We are here to help you build a better, more successful business and we have the expertise to help you perfect your process and achieve your goals.