Improve Your Sales, Repeat Business, and Referral Numbers with this Seven-Step Sales Process
By Karl Robinson
The sales process doesn’t start at “the close”. It starts with everything leading up to that point, beginning with the luring of your most appropriate prospect. Every step thereafter should consistently reassure the prospect they are making the right choice, or, better yet, the only real choice.
Whether you are “High-Tech”, “High-Touch”, or a combination thereof, a carefully mapped out sales process is essential for a number of reasons:
It builds confidence and trust.
It can address and eliminate objections early on.
It gives them a chance to get to know you without risk.
It establishes you as an expert.
It increases closing rates and transaction sizes.
It makes price less of a deciding factor.
It encourages repeat business
It encourages referrals
Customers are overwhelmed with options when it comes to whom they choose to do business with. They are easily distracted, confused, and most fear making a mistake when making a purchase of any significance. If any of those conditions are present, you face a steep climb indeed. This is true both in B2B and B2C businesses. A carefully mapped out sales process will keep them on the rails right through the purchase and beyond.
I’ve developed a simple, seven-step sales process that you can use for your business to help create a better experience for the customer, and better closing rates for you.
Step 1 - KNOW
How do customers initially get introduced to your business? The best way to start the relationship is by communicating a clear brand or point of differentiation that is designed to attract your ideal customer. If you have more than one type of ideal customer, it is important to craft a message specifically for each group. Even if your product or service is basically the same for each group, you are filling very different needs and desires.
For example, an HVAC business may service a busy restaurant, a doctor’s office, and a little old lady who lives alone. The service is basically the same, but those three customers have vastly different needs. There should be a separate message that addresses those needs for each of them.
Try to narrowly define your customer groups as much as possible, then speak directly to those groups.
Step 2 - LIKE
Once a lead is aware of your business, they should be led to dig a little deeper to learn more and see who’s behind the ads. Your web presence and physical location set the tone for a deeper connection. Create a defined process for getting leads to get to know you without risk or commitment.
Without an opportunity to check you out before pulling out a credit card, prospects tend to hold back from becoming customers (I personally fall into this category).
Step 3 - TRUST
This is the most important part of the process. Trust is established by not being seen as merely a provider of goods and services. Look for ways to be positioned as a trusted advisor, expert, or authority figure instead. This can be done with informative, educational, non-promotional materials like helpful articles, a blog (keep the content customer focused), workshops, seminars, checklists reports, etc.
Customers may need to be nurtured for a while at this phase. Remember that every person in your business who comes in contact with a prospect is either performing a trust building or trust eroding exercise.
Step 4 - TRY
The use of a trial offer, free evaluation, guarantee or any other or any other method that removes the risk for the prospect provides them with the ability to sample your products and services effectively before making what may be a costly purchase. This makes people much more comfortable and allows you to demonstrate how you work.
Providing lower priced products and services to support and supplement your core service is a great way to reach those who may not be ready to buy or just don’t know enough about your company to know if you’re right for them. This is often a significant problem when competing with larger, better known organizations. By offering a low-risk, low-cost trial you can gain the upper hand.
Step 5 - BUY
Here, expectations are everything. How you fulfill the order, how you deliver the order, how you communicate throughout the process, how you communicate AFTER the sale (an often overlooked component), and how you ask to be paid are all elements that can raise red flags with the customer.
A deficiency here may not blow this sale, but we’re not after a one-time transaction. Remember this: We don’t get customers to make a sale, we get sales to make a customer for life. Everything should be done with the customer’s future business and referrals of others in mind.
Step 6 - REPEAT
The key factor in creating repeat sales, expanded product sales, referrals, and long term loyalty is to make certain your customers are getting the most value out of their purchase. Tech them how to use it. Provide excellent support and customer service. Be proactive and reach out to them just to see if they are happy with everything. Don’t assume they know how to get the most out of your product or service.
Tip: A hand written Thank You card will pour cement on the relationship. They will feel appreciated and respected in a way no other business process could ever match.
Step 7 - REFER
You want your customers to be such total advocates for your business that they act as a sort of unpaid sales force. You want to lead every single customer to this. Use your marketing materials to convey the fact that your customers refer, this is normal behavior, and that they are recognized and rewarded for it.
Post sale communications should always be used to nudge them to consider referring you to others. Don’t be crass, but don’t be overly shy about it, either. Most customers would love to brag about the awesome people they do business with and how smart they are for choosing you!
That is your sales road map. Use it wisely!