February 27, 2015
sales process failure

You have a great product; you have a great technical sales team… so could it be your actual sales process that is getting in the way of winning new business?

Having a sales process is essential in understanding the steps required to gain business in your industry. Don’t have one at all and you will make it hard work to ever grow your business effectively and efficiently.

Be effective & efficient to close more sales

Not analyzing where your barriers are to move through the process and gain commitment at every stage of the process could be stopping you, and helping your competitors, gain the new business that you are targeting. It will also slow down your ability to build relationships with your prospects. It may even confuse your prospect and give them a bad sales experience.

After spending a lot of time on best practice within the sales process with my clients I would like to share 3 key areas of the sales process that are creating “sticking points” or failures that I believe are reducing conversion rates and potentially slowing down sales growth.

1. Not having a simple fluid sales process

Is your sales process easy to navigate through? Does your prospect know where he is the process and is it easy to identify what the next step is? Worse, do your sales people?

The best sales processes are the simplest, making sure that all the best practice is in place to allow for a smooth flow of opportunities through the pipeline. Any blockages or sticking points need to be identified and solutions to how to overcome these put in place.

Try not to confuse & frustrate the prospect

A good example is having an understandable pricing policy that allows sales people to make sensible decisions in real time and allow the sale to progress. There’s nothing worse than having a complicated pricing policy that creates confusion leading to prospects thinking you are either unprofessional or very junior because you need to “ask your manager” and get back to them for pretty straightforward pricing questions. The sales person should have a pretty good idea of what pricing is available to the prospect at all times. Clear authority at the right levels means the prospect is comfortable within the process.

Another good example is when prospects ring up with a view to enter the sales process. Without a clear process, the prospect could be moved around from pillar to post until they either give up or eventually are put in contact with the right person and slightly aggrieved. Make sure you have a clear qualifying questioning process for incoming calls so that the prospect feels you are genuinely interested in gaining his business by putting them through to the right person straight away.

Another grey area is the terms and conditions, make them simple and try to include only the options that are relevant to the sale. That way the prospect only signs off on things that relate to them, there’s no complicated re-negotiations, frustrations or delays.

2. Qualification and discovery of the customer’s motivations to buy

Qualify your prospects at every stage. Make sure they are in your target market and they actually need and want the products and services you provide.

This is my biggest bugbear, where we really need best practice and where most sales people waste a lot of their time. Understand what you are looking for in a prospect and be really tough on yourself when qualifying. Not qualifying well throughout the process will lead to you have to change your vision of what your company offers, waste time in meetings, travel to them for no reason or make it a lot more work for you if you actually get the business. And… most likely, the prospect will eventually realize that you are not well matched and go elsewhere anyways.

See my blog on understanding what your ideal customer is for more info on this.

Another important stage in the sales process is properly understanding what your prospective customer wants. If you take the time to truly understand their needs & wants then you will be in a much better position to offer them a solution that they will go with and give you the business. The two things you need to do to be able to find the right information is ask the right questions and then listen to what they say back at you!

See my blog on improving your listening skills, I hope it will help in this area.

3. Gaining proper commitment to move to the next stage of the process.

The sales process is just that… a process. Each stage has a defined next step to it and it’s important that the prospective customer is lead through it comfortably. If not, you will get stuck and the process may stall. Make sure at each phase you clarify the next step to them and gain commitment to move on to it …

“what happens next is we meet up to discuss your….. needs/proposal/concerns/delivery…

….is that ok?/…can we book a time? etc.. etc…”.

Everyone likes to know what’s going on and what is expected, it’s comfortable and professional. This is why having a clear sales process will keep the customer from being confused or irritated by the lack of  direction. It’s also worth clarifying their next steps in the buying process so you can match the two up to create true harmony!

If you need any help with your sales process, please contact me, I would be happy to advise you.


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