Advances in technology and changes in digital marketing have radically shifted the customer journey. Where there used to be clear delineation between the sales and marketing teams’ roles and responsibilities, things are a lot murkier nowadays.
Prospects are able to do more initial research on their own. So it’s sometimes unclear where marketing ends and sales begins. That’s why designing a modern sales process that integrates well with your marketing efforts is critical in today’s landscape.
Here’s how to craft the perfect sales process that never loses sight of your customer and their needs.
Begin with Education
Whether you’re reaching out to prospects proactively or they’re discovering your business online, education is the first step in the sales process. It’s how your prospects come to understand what you do, why your work matters, and how you can help them.
When it comes to these early education stages, how you educate dictates who you attract. This is true in terms of both the format and the content of your educational materials, and the two are inextricably linked. If you choose to build out your social media presence on Instagram instead of Facebook, what does that mean for the type of audience you’ll attract and the content you’ll create?
Instagram skews younger than Facebook, so the demographics of the audience you’ll reach will be more Millennials and Gen Zers. Plus, Instagram is a visually-based platform, so your content there will primarily be photos and video. Facebook has a wider appeal with folks across all generations, including Baby Boomers. Plus, the platform allows you to create a variety of content, including long-form written posts.
Find Your Ideal Client
In order to hone in on the best format and content for your educational materials, you must start by defining your ideal customer. Once you have a clear picture of the type of person you want to do business with, you can settle on the right content platforms and messages to attract them.
Take a look at your favorite existing customers. These are the people you love working with, who are just as excited about you. What commonalities can you find among these customers? Are there certain traits, behaviors, or actions they all possess or take? And these don’t have to be directly related to your business: For example, I find that I love working with small business owners who are involved in their industry and local community.
If you know exactly what your ideal clients look like, you can craft the right educational message to attract them to you. Plus, you know what channels to trumpet your messaging on, where you’ll have the best shot at interacting with these folks.
Move on to Discovery
Once a prospect has found your educational materials and decided that the products or services you offer are of interest to them, it’s time for you to get to know them a little better.
In the discovery phase, ask your prospect to tell you about their wants and needs. But don’t let this be an open-ended question. Instead, create a form, survey, or other piece of material that can facilitate a conversation with these interested prospects and guide them to share the type of information that’s most valuable to you.
By collecting information about the prospect’s current situation and desired outcome, you give yourself a jumping off point to prove that you understand the problem that they’re facing. From there, you can demonstrate that your approach offers the perfect solution.
This form can be available in a variety of channels. Consider including a more comprehensive contact form on your website, so prospects who’ve encountered your business via inbound means can let you know they’re there and interested. Then, when your sales team follows up, they’re not going in blind.
Similarly, you can include the form in drip campaigns with warm leads who you’re nurturing with an automated email process. If this form comes at the end of an informative email series that proves your value, it’s a great way to encourage prospects to tell you more about themselves.
Craft a Killer Presentation
By now, you’ve gotten to know your prospect a little better. You’ve shown them the broad strokes of how you can help them solve their problem. The sales presentation is your opportunity to give an in-depth look at how you can change your prospect’s life for the better.
The first step to a great sales presentation is personalization. Take what you already know about your prospect’s business and concerns, and use that to shape your pitch. Things like using case study examples from other similar customers can help your prospect feel like you get them on a deeper level.
While you should certainly have some things prepared, it’s just as important to be able to ask questions and go with the flow in your discussion. You have the chance to sit down with your prospect one-on-one; what a fantastic opportunity this is for you to come to really understand the challenges they face.
Rather than making it a presentation where you discuss what you bring to the table, focus on them. When you ask questions to better grasp their needs, you should acknowledge how they feel and provide a solution you offer that can address this specific hurdle.
Creating compelling leave-behind sales materials is the final step in a great sales presentation. These materials provide your prospects with something to remember you by. They’re what keep you top-of-mind long after your pitch is over.
Finish Strong with Your Proposal
Coming out of your successful presentation, you want to follow up with a sales proposal. At its core, a proposal is a simple restatement of your already agreed-upon plan of action. You should have taken notes during your presentation that reflect your prospect’s needs and expectations. By following up with a proposal that outlines the discussion, you’re giving the prospect another opportunity to review the proposed course of action and consider any modifications.
This might be the point in time when objections start to crop up. A proposal is one step closer to a real commitment, and sometimes prospects start to get cold feet. Overcoming objections is an important part of moving past the proposal to the sale.
Listening is at the heart managing and overcoming objections. Just like during your presentation, your prospect wants to feel assured that you understand them and their needs. They want to feel certain your solution is the perfect one for them. Listen carefully and ask questions that get to the heart of the objection. Don’t take “we’re worried about cost” or “my boss doesn’t think it will work” at face value. When you dive deeper, you can address the real issue head-on and get to the close.
By creating a clear sales process, you’ll hopefully start to see more prospects become customers. It’s important to remember, though, that the sale is not the end of the customer journey! How you onboard new clients matters. Their experience with your product or service will shape whether they become repeat customers. And their experience after the sale also dictates whether or not they’ll refer you to friends.
By creating a strong, integrated sales and marketing process from start to finish, you establish an environment where you can build long-lasting customer relationships.
If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Sales.