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How to Build A Sales Process That Lands Deals Every Time
Learn how to successfully land a sale, from prospecting to closing the deal.
What are common sales process mistakes?
1. Poor preparation
Research is key to successful sales. When done correctly, it allows you to speak confidently about what you’re selling and what problems it solves. When done poorly — or not at all — prospects lose confidence in your product and business.
Take the time to understand both what you’re selling and your target audience before you ever make a sales call. Not only will you avoid embarrassing fumbles, but you’ll be able to address unique problems and value propositions in your prospect communications.
2. No needs analysis (discovery) call
Many reps think that a qualifying call is sufficient background to pick out the best prospects on their list. In most cases, however, this call is very high level and doesn’t adequately paint the picture of a prospect’s needs.
As Mcloughlin puts it, “The longer you spend on discovery at the start of the sales engagement process, the easier it becomes to communicate the value of what you are selling.”
3. Making a sales pitch before qualifying leads
Many eager salespeople are so focused on quotas and commissions that they forget the qualifying and discovery calls and launch straight into the sales pitch. The result is often a dead end — the unvetted prospect has little interest, insufficient budget, or is not empowered to make buying decisions.
Take the time to learn about your prospect’s alignment with your products before a sales call and you’ll dramatically increase your chances of closing a deal.
4. Highlighting product features, not value
It’s common for reps to lead a sales call touting product features. The problem is, prospects aren’t looking for features. They’re looking for solutions and value.
Make sure to focus on the benefits that your product will bring to the customer, rather than the product itself – customers want results, not a bulleted list of selling points.
The key, according to Mcloughlin, is asking the right questions: "What are the customer’s key priorities and why? What can they gain – personally, professionally, and as an organisation – when the engagement goes well? What could they lose if the engagement goes badly?
"Tease out the information then figure out what exactly you can do to help provide for their needs. How can you reduce risk and bring greater certainty? All of a sudden, price is pushed to one side, because you have more valuable ideas to work with."
"Of course, price will come up. But next time it will be as one ingredient in a far bigger recipe for success."
5. Being unempathetic
Laser-focused on closing deals, reps can come across as pushy. Nobody wants to make a buying decision under pressure.
Don’t think of your prospect as a potential client. Think of them as a friend. Listen to their problems with empathy. It builds trust and loyalty, which make a purchase decision easier.
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6. Talking too much
Constant talking is often cited as the number-one mistake salespeople make. It alienates prospects and scuttles once-promising deals. In fact, many studies have demonstrated the negative impact of talking more than listening during sales calls. The takeaway is the same: Reps who consistently close deals listen more than they talk.
The golden ratio is hard to pin down, but many experts recommend a 60/40 split in favour of listening. This gives reps enough time to share value-based insights while making sure the prospect is heard.
7. Being unprepared for objections
There are countless potential objections to a sale: cost, bad timing, insufficient need, lack of product functionality, and so on. While these will vary depending on the prospect, they’re often easy to anticipate. Unfortunately, many reps struggle to close sales due to common objections they don’t know how to overcome.
The best solution is to map out all likely prospect objections before you make your pitch, then prepare empathetic and impactful responses.
8. Making sales calls too long
In the era of virtual selling, sales leader and consultant Larry Long Jr. notes reps struggle to keep calls short enough to retain prospects’ attention. The result, he says, is poor engagement and waning product interest.
Fortunately, the solution is easy: Keep your calls (in-person or virtual) to 30 minutes max. This forces you to avoid tangents and focus on sales-critical information.
9. Waiting too long to follow up
What’s the difference between a sales process and a sales methodology?
As a final note, it’s worth understanding the difference between the sales process and sales methodology. They are frequently used interchangeably, but are two distinct concepts. Think of the sales process as the “what” of the sales equation — the steps necessary to close a deal and nurture a new client or prospect relationship. A sales methodology is the “how” — how a rep executes each step in the process and engages a prospect or customer. When you put the right “what” and the “how” together, you increase your chances of successfully closing a sale.
We’ll get more into the “how” of sales in later chapters of this series, but for now, it’s important to know which methodologies are commonly used by sales teams.