Mastering the sales process is the key to managing the unpredictability of the sales profession.
By Zen Newman, Marketing Analyst at PipelineDeals
For most managers, the thoughts that the majority of their sales team is frightened is disconcerting. What are they frightened of? They fear what they don’t understand. They fear the sales process. Most sales managers and trainers know instinctively that fear is the death of a sale, so getting to the source of your sales teams fears is a top priority. The problem is that while many salespeople are proficient in their product and in talking with customers, many of them fail to grasp the big picture of sales success. That big picture is the sales funnel.
Those of us who have succeeded in the world of sales underwent a long learning curve where we learned the techniques of the trade, from needs analysis to close. What we also learned is that it's possible to be good at closing sales and yet still encounter dry periods, where we have deals in the works, but nothing ready to close. When paid on commission, not having control over how many deals you’re closing per pay period is an worrying thing. For those of us who’ve decided to make sales a career, we eventually learned how to manage this uncertainty by producing consistent results week in and week out. After all, the rent isn’t waiting.
Understanding your particular sales pipeline requires taking a step back from the day to day action. More often than not, when a sales funnel runs dry, it’s because you had a hot streak not too long ago and there simply wasn’t enough time in the day to follow up and engage new prospects. To truly understand it, you need to break the process down into individual steps. The sales profession is getting increasingly complicated as customers become more informed and as competition increases. This complexity means that it doesn’t always work to drive straight to the close with single-minded determination. Instead, a sale needs shepherding through the baby steps that move it in the right direction.
Learn how to build and manage a sales funnel
By not asking for everything all at once, a salesperson is allowing time for a trust-based relationship to develop. Furthermore, instead of coming to an all or nothing, yes or no, moment, acquiescence can be gained gradually increasing the likelihood of not only a yes, but of a long post-purchase relationship. Even if at the point of purchase, the answer is no, there’s still enough of a foundation in place that the door is open to try again at a later time.
By understanding the framework that they exist in with their customers, salespeople are able to know no only what they can expect to close this week, but next week and next month. Adding structure to the sales process turns sales success from random luck to a structured and methodical activity capable of yielding predictable results. Once this is done, the vast earning potential of uncapped commissions can be unlocked.
The members of your sales team are frightened. They’ve been turned loose and told to own their shop, and they’ve been given the rewards and the risks accordingly. Now it’s time to equip them to be successful, not just in front of the customer, but day in and day out as sales professionals. Remember, sales is our craft. Creating a sales funnel that functions as a well-oiled machine is not just good for sales reps, but for the entire company.