I’m relatively new to sales and business development. The shift from marketing/marketing communications wasn’t really a smooth ride since I took it upon myself to create a sales process from the scratch.
Apparently, there is and element of risk when you’re being proactive. I hadn’t realise that up until that day when I got on a call with a prospect and he literally squashed me with his objections! My biggest mistake — I didn’t have a process and I mistook institutional knowledge as a powerful weapon. Why do I say that? Because the person at the other end doesn’t give a damn!
You cannot survive in sales without a proven process. And while there are many out there (just google “sales processes” and you’ll get close to a million hits) you need to create one that best suits your personality or the nature of business (if you’re not the only one selling professionally). Because what works for you may not work for me and vice-versa.
The processes need to be customised and rehashed until you’re comfortable with it. And at the bare minimum, your process should include the following aspects (in order of priority):
- Needs Analysis
- Solutions Fit
I really don’t think I need to expand on these points as they’re quite self-explanatory. I would, however, encourage you to read those steps once more before reading any further.
Did you? If you did, you would notice that I didn’t say “pitching” at all. If that feels strange, I think I did a great job explaining why you should care about the sales process. You see, the major challenge with use sales professionals is that we try to pitch in our services during our very first call. Worst, in that very first email (which is more likely a “cold”) you send to a prospect.
Why the hell would anybody care about your product or service’s features and benefits when they’ve got bigger fish to fry? Oh, you’ve got the best solution for them? Save it. You can’t encourage anyone to express their frustrations and/or challenges after a data dump. It’s just not the way we humans work.
We need more empathy. And that begins with being mindful to include the prospects situation right inside the sales process! Think of the process as your template to help your prospects navigate through their existing situation, see how your products/services help them resolve their most pressing issues, and make them look good in front of their bosses. You do this and you’ve got the sale.
But you can’t possibly get that far if you haven’t invested time to develop a sales process. I found a couple of great resources that can get you started for now. I plan to share more content on sales and/or business development in the next couple of months.
If you’ve ever come across those legendary sales people who talk about closing the deals each time they open their mouths, they’re using a sales process. If they say otherwise, they’re lying.