One of the key factors that separate top performing salespeople from the rest of the crowd is a clearly defined prospecting and sales process. Salespeople who consistently follow a well-structured plan for prospecting and selling will always, over the long haul, outperform those who don’t.
The process is what makes seemingly challenging jobs like prospecting or requesting meetings easy. The process is what makes them routine and insures that they happen on regular, almost automated basis. The process is what allows a salesperson to master each step in the sales cycle and both make more sales, and enjoy their work more.
So why is it that most salespeople don’t follow a defined process? Well, salespeople tend to be an independent lot. They tend to relish their freedom and bristle at the suggestion that they stick to fixed schedules and routines for work. Also, like many people, a lot of salespeople simply lack the discipline to first create a set process or regimen and then to stick to it.
The ironic thing about the reluctance to follow a set process is that following the process actually gives you, the salesperson, more freedom than not following it.
By following a process you will be better prepared, enjoyed your work more, and have better results. By having a plan in place for each step of the prospecting and sales process, you will avoid much of the stress that comes from having to shoot from the hip and make things up on the fly. And, you will definitely create more consistent forward momentum.
So what does a prospecting and sales process look like?
It starts with a plan on how you locate and engage with prospective clients. The plan should include steps for how and when you find new leads, and how and when you will make contact with them. It should also include email templates and phone scripts so that you will know exactly, or at least approximately, what you will say.
Once you’ve made contact, the next stage of your plan will be to get the meeting or at least to have a serious phone conversation. You should know how you will ask for the meeting and how to overcome possible objections.
Once you have confirmed a meeting, you will already know what you need to prepare and you will have a plan for controlling the meeting flow. That plan will include building rapport, setting the agenda, uncovering client needs and concerns, and all relevant information about the client’s buying process.
The plan should also include your presentation, how to give it, how to make it effective and memorable, and how to encourage interactivity. Lastly, the plan will include steps for wrapping up the meeting and getting the prospect to move to the next step in the buying process.
Additionally, your plan should include a strategy for getting your prospects to increase their trust in you.
The following is following is an example of a basic, by the numbers, prospecting and sales process.
- Search LinkedIn or other sources two times per week for one hour
- Attend two networking events per week
- Ask each client for referrals or connections after each meeting
- Send ten prospecting emails per day and make ten follow up calls per day
- Have a pre-defined goal for each meeting that will allow you to move the sales process forward and closer to a sale
- Build rapport
- Set the agenda
- Uncover clients needs and buying process
- Present your offering in a memorable manner with a clearly defined USP
- Wrap up and suggest next steps
- Follow up
- Send meeting summary with agreed to next steps
- Follow up as promised
Each one of these items can be expanded upon and further detailed so that each step is clearly defined and almost automated.
For example, I’d suggest including exactly what you will say to prospective clients when you meet them at a networking event, or how you will word your emails when requesting a meeting.
Many sales people will have more detailed prospecting and sales processes.
But regardless of how detailed your plan is, the important thing is to have something in place so that you don’t come into the office on Monday morning, or step into a client meeting and wonder what you should do next. That is a recipe for stress and underperformance.
If you want to be a top performer and enjoy the work, you need to plan your work and work your plan.
In future posts we will take a closer look at many of the steps in the sales process and teach you how to master each one.
Until then, Happy Trails and Happy Sales!