Mar 11, 2021 • Podcast

How do I establish a sales process?

On this episode, Paul provides common-sense tips for developing your selling process.

“The customer follows their buying process, not your selling process.”

How do your top customers buy?

What makes a sales process different from other business processes? People!

Selling is dynamic and ever changing. Your sales process needs to be as well.


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How do I establish a sales process?

(Transcribed from podcast)

Welcome back to the Q and A Sales Podcast. Paul Reilly here, and I am thrilled to answer your question. So just as a reminder, make sure you visit the website, Literally any question you ask me, within reason, I will answer.

This question came from a recent convention I was at—an actual live convention, so that is good news. They’re starting to come back. I know salespeople are eager to get out there to network, to meet with people again, so good news. Hopefully, that will continue to make a comeback. A question came up though. How do I establish a sales process? And this question came up with one attendee. We were just having a conversation at a networking breakout piece. How do I establish a sales process? So that’s the question I’m going to answer on today’s show.

Before we get into that question, a quick shout-out to Andrea over at The Creative Impostor Studios. Podcasting is such a great way to connect with your audience. It’s a great way to build your brand. It’s just another avenue to create value for the people that you’re trying to connect with. So if you want to start a podcast, reach out to Andrea and her team. Andrea has graciously offered a consultation for the listeners of this show. So reach out to her; connect with her. We’re going to have a link over to her website on this episode’s webpage.

Also pick up your latest copy of Value-Added Selling. In Value-Added Selling we have 11 chapters dedicated to the Value-Added Selling Process®. So if you’re looking to establish a sales process, Value-Added Selling is a critical one if price is an issue in your industry. So if you’re struggling to sell at your price, if you’re constantly facing discounts, our process is going to be a great fit. Okay? So check it out. The book is available wherever you get your books: Amazon, Chapters, Barnes & Noble. You know, I don’t know if it’s at the library. I doubt it. But either way, you’re going to have to buy it. So go to Amazon, make the investment. It will help you become a better salesperson.

Let’s get back to that question: How do you establish a sales process? The first thing you need to do is ignore how you want to sell. The customer does not care how you want to sell. The customer follows their buying process, not your selling process. So keep that in mind. It’s not about you or how you want to sell them your solution or how you want them to follow the path that you want to take them down. It’s not about you. It is about the customer. So the first step in building a sales process is to ignore how you want to sell and understand how the customer really buys.

Here’s how you do that. Think of your top customers. Think of your top customers, whoever they are, and ask yourself, ‘Okay. What is the process they go through when they are making a purchasing decision?’ You know, perhaps, uh, talk to your best customers and you realize that, okay, first step in their buying process is they’re aware of a need, a problem happens, something, and then they’ve got to research it. Okay. That’s that one in their buying process.

Maybe the next step is they meet with people that can help them solve this problem. You know, some may call that a vendor selection or vendor auditing or whatever it might be, but they start meeting with people that can help solve that problem. Great. Okay. They’re gathering information.

The next step is they organize a team or a committee of decision makers that will work on solving that problem or making the decision. Perfect. And then they request proposals or quotes. They start meeting with salespeople and ask questions and get answers and all that good stuff. That’s the next step.

And then their next step might be they decide who they’re going to go with. They negotiate and they move forward. And then they implement. That could be the next step that they go through. And then finally, they begin using it. They’re in that post-sale usage phase where they’re gaining the maximum value from your solution.

That is the customer’s buying process. And now that you understand that, you can begin formulating a sales process that will mirror their buying path or buying journey or whatever it is that you want to call it. Again, so the first step at the absolute first step, get an in-depth understanding of how your current customers make decisions because how your current customers make decisions is going to be similar to how your prospects are going to make that same decision.

Next thing you want to do, think of the three to five greatest successes you have had in your current position. So if you’re selling widgets, hey, what are your five greatest successes that you’ve had selling those widgets? And what you need to do is reverse engineer that success. Think about your top successes and ask yourself, ‘Okay, what did these successes have in common?’ And then you highlight the steps that you have taken. For example, let’s say, maybe each one of these successes had a common problem that you were able to solve. Maybe you were able to meet with all the right decision makers and that’s another step. And maybe the next step after that is you were able to differentiate your offering compared to every other option. That’s another step. The sixth step could be presenting your solution in a compelling way where they end up choosing you, not the other person.

Think about that. All you’re trying to do is figure out the common steps between your top five successes. And those common steps, you then want to overlay the customer’s buying path. Ask yourself, ‘Okay, of these common steps in my successes, how many of these align with the customer’s buying path?’ Or better yet, ‘Where do they fit in the customer’s typical buying path?’ And once you formalize it, once you let it sink in, that is your sales process. That’s all it is. That’s how you establish a process. You look at how your customer buys, then you analyze your previous successes, and you overlap the two together. You identify the steps in your buyers customer’s buying path, you identify the steps in your success, and you overlay the two. That is all it is. That’s how you establish a sales process. And then you repeat it.

One bonus tip. As you are establishing your sales process, remember that you are establishing your sales process and you’re understanding the customer’s buying path based on customers that you want more of, not less of. So when you’re thinking about your best customers, don’t think about the low margin, pain-in-the neck customer, the one that you wish would go to the competition. Don’t focus on their buying path because you don’t want to sell to more customers like that. You want your best customers, your most profitable ones, the ones that are easier to work with. That’s the goal.

Now another bonus tip to think of when you’re establishing your process, a process in sales is different than a process in other aspects of business. For example, in the manufacturing world, they have a process they will follow to manufacture parts. And that process is going to be predictable and it’s going to work 99 percent of the time. Sales is not like that. Selling involves people, so it’s not going to be a perfect process. In fact, rigidly following your sales process might only lead to success a third of the time, and that would be wildly successful. So remember that as you are building out your sales process, selling is a dynamic profession; it’s ever changing. It doesn’t happen in order. It happens out of order all at the same time. And so keep that in mind. Don’t get too frustrated by the fact that selling is a dynamic profession.

Make it a big day.

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