Our sales training clients in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary invest in the growth of their Salespeople to increase their sales. Improving their ability in each step of the B2B (Business to Business) sales cycle is the key to reaching that goal. Here’s a breakdown of our work with them and what you might be able to apply to your specific sales situation.
Step #1 of the Sales Cycle – The Prospecting Call
This is still the best way to get appointments. Decision makers get too many emails to notice one from a Salesperson who is trying to pitch them product. Most Salespeople hate prospecting phone calls because they’ve never been trained how to do them properly. The purpose of the call is to book an appointment with a decision maker to do a complete needs analysis and start to build a trusted relationship.
What do the Top Salespeople Do? They create a new business engagement strategy and have the self-discipline to follow it through. This includes making a commitment to prospecting on a consistent weekly basis by scheduling an appointment in their calendars. They avoid rescheduling the appointment even when a key account asks to see them by suggesting some alternatives. While they may choose to network by using LinkedIn, asking for referrals from existing clients, and getting involved in their community, top Salespeople know that picking up the phone to consistently prospect leads to a full sales funnel.
Step #2 of the Sales Cycle – The Customer Needs Analysis
The CNA is the start of the relationship. The role of the Salesperson is to ask many great questions that cause the decision maker to open up and freely discuss their needs. We are trying to find areas for improvement, problem solving and opportunities. A good CNA is very detailed, as it causes the decision maker to come to realizations to want to take the conversation further. Trust is the true goal of the CNA.
What do the Top Salespeople Do? They don’t rush the CNA by asking surface level questions to quickly tie generic needs to their products and services. Great Salespeople probe to ask deeper questions that cause decision makers to drill down on their true needs. They understand that the CNA is the first element of the sales success formula – Locate the problem/unrealized reward.
Step #3 of the Sales Cycle – Follow Up Appointments
The Salesperson and the decision maker now move into further discussion of problems, solutions, and opportunities. The client may bring in more of their people for group consultation. The Salesperson and the decision maker partner together for further investigation and take some form of action. Good follow up appointments bring the decision maker to have a sense of urgency to take action. All components of a working relationship are discussed to ensure everyone agrees. This would be where a demonstration is usually made.
What do the Top Salespeople Do? They encourage the decision maker to bring more people into the process in an effort to address the extent of the problem/reward and work together to find a solution. Smart Salespeople know that people support what they help create. This introduces the second and third element of the sales success formula – Partner with the client for a solution. Educate the decision maker on how your product or service will meet their needs.
Larger companies and buying committees may require more than just one follow up meeting to gain consensus. Great Salespeople openly discuss the advantages of taking action as well as the risk and lost opportunity of not doing so.
Step #4 of the Sales Cycle – Discussion of all of the Elements of the Proposal
So far, we’ve determined the needs of the client and openly discussed the impact of the solutions and benefits derived. We’ve educated the decision maker on how our products or services will bring opportunity and established a sense of urgency to take action. Consider that your decision maker has devoted time and effort partnering with you. Why would they want to walk away from that investment? Now we work with the decision maker to agree on all of the elements in the proposal – the solution, strategy, quantity of products or services, duration of agreement, budget and expectations.
What do the Top Salespeople Do? They don’t skip this step and propose an agreement by delivering the proposal that might come back with a no answer. Great Salespeople want to discuss every element of the proposal with the decision maker to bring about a quick, yes answer. Imagine how your closing rate would increase if every client agreed to all elements of a proposal before you presented it?
Step #5 of the Sales Cycle – Presentation and Acceptance of the Proposal – SOLD!
It’s now time for the client to decide to do business with you. If the first four steps have been followed, this can be a quick process unless decision making protocol requires more due diligence. That should have been something you found out about by following the first four steps. Here you agree to terms and discuss how delivery and performance will be monitored to ensure the client is satisfied. A schedule of regular service meetings can be discussed and the client may be trained on how to best use the product.
What do the Top Salespeople Do? They realize that while the sales cycle has now been successful, the sales process is simply entering another phase of delivery. Great Salespeople know that getting clients is one thing – keeping them is another. No one wants a cancellation.
Step #6 of the Sales Cycle – Service Calls
Now that you’ve won the client, your focus turns to exceeding performance and expectation. This turns clients into champions who bring you high rates of repeat business and referrals. Without proficiency in this step, you will churn and burn your client list which says little about your ability to deliver on your promises.
What do the Top Salespeople Do? Provide levels of service unsurpassed by competitors by getting to know many people at the client level. This saves time for the decision maker and gives you excellent, objective information from internal people who also become champions for you. The best Salespeople are constantly asking for feedback and looking for opportunities to improve. When they get great response from the decision maker, they automatically ask for referrals from other connected non-competitors that could benefit from their expertise and hard work.
The B2B Sales Cycle Success Formula
Locate the problem/unrealized reward or benefit
+ Partner with the client for a solution
+ Educate the decision maker
+ Openly discuss all elements of the proposal
+ Gain acceptance of the proposal and move forward
+ Service the client, create a champion and ask for referrals
= Make More Sales
Does this sound like challenging work?
It is! There are no shortcuts to establishing trusted relationships. That takes time, commitment and self-discipline on your part. Yet, the benefits of providing this level of customer focused selling are extremely rewarding in many ways besides any commission you might receive. Too many Salespeople rush this process and try to make a quick sale with a fast close. While that might have some application in B2C (Business to Consumer) selling, B2B buying relationships require that the decision maker buy you, your expertise and what your company has to offer. Your level of success is influenced by the number of the right clients you chose to place in your sales funnel.
What do you think? I’m always interested in your comments. If you liked this post, share it on LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+.
Many Salespeople have reached out to us for individual sales training online. The Sales Skills Incubator will launch this summer. If you’d like to know more about it, please send us a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dave Warawa – PROSALESGUY
Author of SHUT UP! Stop Talking and Start Making Money available on Amazon