Let’s start with three simple questions: 1) Do you have a sales process? 2) Is it written down? 3) Have you made a change to it in the last 6-12 months?
If you answered no to any of these questions, definitely keep reading. Even if you answered yes to all three, I am confident you will learn something from this post that will improve upon your current sales process.
What is a Sales Process?
A sales process is the repeatable set of steps your sales team will take to move a prospect through various stages from initial contact to closing. While there isn’t one sales process that works for every business, there is a formula that everyone can follow.
Step 1: Know Your Lead Source
Do you feel like you have enough leads? Do you know where most of them come from? Do you know where the best come from? Many businesses are focusing on getting “more” leads, forgetting that quality leads will get them more business than quantity. Really evaluate these three questions above, write down your responses and determine how you should move forward.
For example, does your Facebook lead generation bring in 5-10 leads a day however your sales people are only closing 1 in 100 of those? Meanwhile, your LinkedIn leads generation is bringing 1-3 a day and your salespeople are closing 2-4 a month. I like the odds from the LinkedIn conversion rate a lot better.
Now, depending on your business and what you are selling, your convertible leads may be higher from Facebook, Instagram or your website than LinkedIn. The purpose of this example is not to sell you on LinkedIn lead generation, but rather to give you an example of how you should be evaluating conversion rates from your various lead sources.
If you cannot answer these lead source questions, put a process in place to track this information.
Step 2: Track Your Leads
Here’s where the heart of the Sales Process comes in. A good framework for a repeatable sales process involves Sales Stages. This helps you track clearly where your leads in their buying process which will help your salespeople to overcome objections more easily (more on this shortly).
Know that you know your various leads sources, you know how they are entering your process and you can decide what happens next. Depending on the lead source, the first action or two in your sales process may vary, but don’t worry, they’ll all sync back up again quickly. Once your lead comes in to you, add it to your tracking system. A customer relationship management (CRM) tool simplifies tracking leads through the sales process. Having your leads automatically input into your CRM not only streamlines the process and saves you time, but it also works to ensure that no leads are lost due to inefficiencies. Once in the CRM, you can easily drag and drop to move your prospects through each stage. An example of potential sales stages may look like this:
Prospecting → Contacted → Qualified → Educated → Visited → Quoted → Sold / Lost
While a linear sales process would certainly be ideal, that is not the reality of it. So instead, most sales processes look more like flow charts, with branches going on in various directions. Many of those branches are due to buyer objections that come up at various parts in the process. This is where you can start to see real value from a sales process, especially when working with a more junior salesperson.
Step 3: Find Leaks and Fix Them
Leaks in your Sales Process are the points where a lead drops off and either makes a firm decision not to buy or simply stops responding to your salesperson. Think about two or three of the most common objections that you receive. One objections that we hear in almost any business is around price. There are a lot of sales strategies to overcome pricing objections, but often it involves a bit of a dance between buyer and salesperson. Perhaps even ends in a salesperson over-promising what the operations side of the business can actually deliver upon.
Rather than having to respond to objections after they occur, what if you could head them off. If you know exactly where in your sales process common objections occur, then you can put a step into your sales process that heads off those objections before they even arise.
Step 4: Re-evaluate and refine your sales process as you go
A sales process is an ever changing thing. I’ve run into companies that say “we had a sales coach come in several years ago and put a great process into place for us.” First of all, Kudos for taking the steps to bring in an expert to help you with building your process, which can get a little complex. However, have there been any changes to your business? Has your marketing strategy changed in the last few years? (I hope so, given that there have been amazing advancements in digital marketing). Do you offer any new products or services? Even if neither of those have changed, your buyers and their communication preferences certainly have. Your should be regularly assessing your sales process. Perhaps a new objection came up that you haven’t heard before; write it down and how you overcame that objection, consider building that into your sales process at the educational stage, providing a new resource to your buyers to help them understand your offering better.
Step 5: Sales is not Marketing, Marketing is not Sales, but they do need to work together.
A solid sales process utilizes the marketing branch of the company. When a prospect stops responding to calls or emails, or when they tell us they aren’t interested, commonly the sales process ends right there. How many times do your sales people reach out to each prospect before stopping? 80% of sales people only contact a prospect 1-2 times, however it typically takes 8-12 touches to convert a prospect.
When you receive a no, add that person to your drip marketing campaign (make sure to give them an option to unsubscribe, but understand that often a “no” is just a “not right now.” If they’ve stopped responding to calls and emails, add them to a drip marketing campaign. Just because they don’t have time to answer your calls right now, doesn’t mean they won’t need/want what you are selling in the future. Did they buy from you? Add them to your marketing campaigns. Previous buyers make great repeat customers. They already know and love your products. If you rely solely on salespeople who are chasing the next new lead, your prior customers may go unattended. Leverage your marketing team here, and if you don’t have one, leverage your CRM which can make marketing to them easy.
Follow these 5 steps to build your proven and repeatable sales process. Make sure to include your sales team as they will have valuable insights to provide. If you need help with this, let us know, this is exactly what we do!
We are in the 4th quarter and most businesses are starting to plan for 2019. I’m starting this process for my business with the first thing being going through my paper files.
Remember when the big thing in the future was “the paper-less office”? Slowly, I think we are getting there, but It’s still HARD to let go of that physical document that you can easily read, touch, and write on.
What do you do with your paper? Are you the type that needs to keep it just in case? Is it time to get rid of that physical paper and go digital? Here are a few tips to lessen your paper load.
- Use Pinterest
I love Pinterest and use my profile for personal and business. My boards are organized by topics and then I can pin directly from a website or if I have a paper version of an article, I search for the it online and pin it. Afraid of putting your ideas out there for the world to see? You can create secret boards, so your ideas stay your own until you are ready to share!
- Get rid of those stacks of business cards
In the business world, it seems like everyone has a stack of business cards. The easiest way to clear this clutter is to create a spreadsheet of those business cards and throw away the cards. Don’t have time to input all that information into a spreadsheet? Outsource it!
Want to really clear that business card stack clutter? Throw away all those OLD business cards that you have collected and start fresh! Are you really going to follow-up with all those cards you’ve collected and haven’t touched in months (ok, maybe years)?
My suggestion before starting over is to get a system in place before starting to collect again. It can be as easy as a spreadsheet or use a CRM. And this time around, make sure you follow-up with the people you want to grow a relationship with.
- Start scanning those old documents
Purchase a good document scanner (or a printer/scanner) that can do double-sided scans. Don’t have time to do it? Outsource it!
- Create an online filing system that makes sense to you
There are so many filing options out there. Just go with your gut and figure out a system that works for you. If you don’t know where to start, hire a VA or a professional organizer who specializes in business/online organizing to create a system for you.
- Make sure you have an automatic back-up of your files
Take advantage of the free online storage out there! You won’t have to worry about a computer crash and never being able to retrieve those files again. I love how the cloud syncs automatically and I don’t have EVERYTHING available on my computer. Once the file can be archived, I just un-sync it from my computer.
I promise you, you will feel like a weight has been lifted with less paper in your office… and other business owners will be jealous.
There are a lot of ways you can manage your leads. CRMs are the best and most effective way to do so. If you use them properly.
What is a CRM?
Simply put, a CRM – Customer Relationship Management – tool allows you to track and follow-up with your leads and customers in a more efficient way. Perhaps you are currently using a spreadsheet or pen and paper. Is your office wall covered in post-it notes with your most promising leads and priority tasks? Don’t get me wrong, I love post-its, my wall is covered in them, but these are my long-term goals, dream projects, etc. My priority items, are all digitally stored, so that I can get pings, dings, emails, alerts and whatever other automated reminders I need to keep me on task. This is the way I operate my daily activities AND my leads.
Why do I need one?
Maybe you just have a handful, so few that you remember every conversation in perfect detail. What happens when 10 become 20, or 200, or 2000? You need a system in place that works just as efficiently for a few leads as it does for thousands. Why? Because your business is going to grow. That’s what you want isn’t it? So be prepared for that growth.
What to do with your leads once you have them
Most people follow-up with a lead 1-2 times. Studies show that it takes between 5 and 12 contacts with a person before they buy from you. A CRM will help you make all those touch points in a variety of ways. 1) Notifying you, at intervals you set, based upon your sales process, when your next action is due. 2) Sending automated emails based upon where a prospect is in your sales process. 3) Providing date-based alerts – birthdays, anniversaries, expiration dates, service due, etc. Reminders and follow-up will become second nature. Let your CRM be your automated assistant.
Additionally, with a CRM you can segment out your leads based upon purchase history, interest type and virtually any other category you can come up with for your business. If you offer multiple products or business lines, this is a must when you are trying to effectively market to your audience.
What features should I look for/avoid?
When determining the best CRM for your business, you should consider factors such as, what features you need, how many leads do you have and how much does it cost. One of the key pieces necessary to understanding this, is know your sales process and finding a tool that aligns with that process. I included more tips on selecting the best CRM for your business in a previous post.
When is the right time to get a CRM?
Now! And yes, I can say it this assertively, NOW is the right time. If you are reading this post, or asking this question, then now is the right time for you to get a CRM. This doesn’t mean run right out and get the first one you find, however. Do your research and pick the right CRM.
Mark Hunter, author of High-Profit Prospecting and High-Profit Selling was quoted saying: “It’s not about having the right opportunities. It’s about handling the opportunities right.” You can purchase an incredible lead list, or spend a ton of money on marketing, but if you aren’t managing those leads daily through a CRM, you are wasting your time and money.
So, once you have the best CRM for your business, make sure you are fully utilizing it! Even the most expensive CRM does you no good if you don’t use it. Every. Single. Day.
Top Goals Quotes
These goals quotes are designed to inspire you to reach your dreams…I believe our dreams are achieved one steppingstone at a time.
If you want help setting and reaching your goals, please stop by our Goals in a BoxTM page to learn about GoalspreneurTM for your business goals and Goals with a SoulTM for your personal life goals. As a small business owner, you can be inspired by both! With Goals in a BoxTM you will have a 30-day support program to reach your goals. We teach you how to set your goals and inspire you along the way.
Here are some of our favorite goals. Do you have another one? Just email us at [email protected] and let us know! Now, the quotes…
“Goals with deadlines are steppingstones to your dreams.” ~ Robin Suomi
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” ~ Les Brown
“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” ~ Henry Ford
“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” ~ Jim Rohn
“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” ~ Tony Robbins
“If you’re bored with life – you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things – you don’t have enough goals.” ~Lou Holtz
“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” ~ Confucius
”The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” ~Bill Copeland
“One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals.” ~ Michael Korda
“Never give up. There are always tough times, regardless of what you do in anything in life. Be able to push through those times and maintain your ultimate goal.” ~ Nathan Chen
And we will end with this quote:
“Set ambitious goals, and along the way you will discover yourself.” ~ Robin Suomi
One of the important things about setting and reaching your goals is that you discover what you are made of along the way. You will develop character as you make choices, and you will discover an inner strength that may surprise you. Good luck on your journey!
For more information on setting and achieving goals, visit Goals in a BoxTM to learn about GoalspreneurTM for your business goals and Goals with a SoulTM for your personal life goals. An exciting, 30-day adventure awaits you!
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In this three-part series about goals, we start by defining what they are and why they are important. Next, I’ll teach you how to set great goals that are inspiring and meaningful to you. We’ll end the series by exploring how you can achieve your goals so they become your steppingstones to your dreams.
We begin with the end in mind….achieving your dreams.
We all have dreams of things we want to do, be, have or experience. Dreams are what gives our lives purpose. Dreams inspire us, give us hope, make us feel alive and motivate us. They are critical to our well-being and happiness. Take a few moments to browse “Dream” quotes and see if you don’t come away inspired. (Go ahead, I’ll wait for you.) Am I right?! Okay, dreams matter.
So, what is the relationship between goals and dreams? Goals with deadlines are steppingstones to your dreams. When you achieve little goals, they lead to medium goals, and they lead to your BIG goals, your dreams! And as Oprah Winfrey says, “The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.” If you want to live your dreams, you’d better begin putting your steppingstones in place.
First, let’s explore what goals are.
Definition of Goal
I’m a business person, so I looked at Business Dictionary. They define goal as, “an observable and measurable end result having one or more objectives to be achieved within a more or less fixed timeframe.” Yawn. I love business, but this one puts me to sleep.
Next, I went to Merriam-Webster. They define goal as, “the end toward which effort is directed.” Well, we are getting closer. A lot of effort is involved. But it still isn’t the definition I was looking for.
Finally, I went to Oxford Living Dictionaries. They define goal this way, “the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result,” and, “the destination of a journey.”
Home run. Yes, a goal needs to be about effort, achievement and coming to a defined end point, a destination. However, Oxford takes it up a notch. They talk about desire. When I work with clients to reach their goals, desire matters. In fact, it is often their key to success when they reach those really difficult goals. Frankly, it usually makes the journey more worthwhile.
I believe goals are what move us forward in life toward our dreams. They are the engine of our desires, our dreams. But like a car engine, goals require a commitment on your part. You will need to fuel them frequently and maintain them regularly. A goal can’t just be parked in a garage and forgotten.
In Part 2, I’ll teach you how to set great goals that are inspiring and meaningful to you.
Robin Suomi, MBA, is an experienced small business expert and founder of Startup to Growth, LLC. Working with clients remotely through video meeting platforms, she helps clients answer their technical business planning questions. She also encourages them to dig deeper, dream bigger, and works with them to create their Success Steps! Check out the website for ongoing How to Start a Business and Business Plan Boot Camp workshops and seminars, as well as 1-1 small business coaching and group coaching, including QuickStart Mastermind and Growth Mastermind groups.
Also check out Startup to Growth Membership for additional small business training and professional development videos available to you online, anytime. A very affordable option.
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