The path to success in business is paved with sales. Every business will ultimately rise or fall based on how well they sell. Powering the Pipeline is a special multi-part series to help businesses sell better.
At PipelineDeals, we’ve been in a unique position to connect with over 11,000 businesses as they search for a way to be better at selling. While not all these companies continue to use PipelineDeals, we’ve talked to many of them about how they sell. We’ve learned a lot, and we’ve road tested most of it in our own sales efforts.
Now we’re rounding up the most important things we’ve learned in a series of posts to help you power up your sales process in 2014. These posts will address fundamental concepts like communicating your value proposition and nurturing leads, but it won’t just be Sales 101. We’ll be rolling in all the best insights we’ve gleaned over the years and illustrating our ideas with never-before-seen aggregate data from our customers.
For this first post, we thought we’d kick things off with three essentials, all of which will be addressed in more detail in future posts.
1. Any Process is Better than No Process
To succeed in sales, you need a process. Process is “actions to achieve”—a series of actions you can follow to achieve your goals.
Process is boring. It’s very easy to procrastinate about developing your sales process. You can do “ad hoc” or “case by case” selling from now until the end of time. But your results will be all over the place, and you’ll never really know what worked and what didn’t. Process lays a foundation for your efforts, which enables more consistent results and makes continuous improvement possible.
So our advice is to start with a process, any process, and stick to it. The biggest hurdle to reaping the benefits of a sales process is simply getting started and having the gumption to stay the course.
Make peace with the fact that you won’t start out with the best process. You can make it “perfect” later. Start simple. Or start with something that’s already worked for others. We started out with a process laid out by Predictable Revenue author Aaron Ross. If you’re not sure what will work for you, we recommend giving some of his ideas a go. But just start somewhere, stay true to it for a quarter, and see if you’re better off. We’re willing to bet you will be.
2. Sell Ideas
Most of us, including our customers, spend the majority of our working hours mired in details. We’re constantly digging our way through the next thing on the to-do list, the next email we need to respond to, the next deadline, the next mini-crisis that needs our attention. It’s hard to step back, look at the big picture, and think clearly.
That’s why details are of minimal use in sales. At some point in the sales process, especially if your customer has specific questions, you’ll spend some time in feature-and-benefit land. But before you can get there, you have to bring the customer up for air and make them want to know more. How do you do that? By selling them on an idea. An idea that’s big enough to make their business, and maybe even their life, significantly better.
3. Start With Your Customer
The ideas that you sell can only come from a deep understanding of your customers. Here at PipelineDeals, we saw a big boost in our conversions when we made the conscious decision to reframe our sales mentality from “product first” to “customer first.” We look forward to telling you all about this shift in a later post.
But first up, in our next Powering the Pipeline post, we’ll dive into lead qualification: Why is it so critical, and how can you get it done as efficiently as possible?
About the Author
JP Werlin is the Co-Founder of PipelineDeals. He is a seasoned entrepreneur who enjoys building and leading teams of great people. JP is passionate about creating lasting brands that provide value and create mutually beneficial relationships between people. You can follow him on Twitter via @jpwerlin.