Each company’s sales process is different. There are a sequence of steps and actions a salesperson typically takes to prospect, qualify and convert a lead to an opportunity. The early parts of a sales process traditionally were left to salespeople. However, if you look at how to use the time of a salesperson effectively, qualifying a lead is both rigorous and tedious.
Assuming you have an effective inbound marketing system, much of your lead qualification can be managed by your online website and systems. The job of the salesperson can be focused on the key selling events such as conducting demos, persuading the customer and helping them sign up for your service or product.
A great way to increase productivity and drive higher qualified leads is to automate. Here are some guidelines to making this happen:
- Document the steps. Interview your salespeople and ask them about what they do early in the sales process. Thereafter, seek to capture the steps which can be automated by a system. Work in partnership testing and asking clarifying questions to see what would make sense for your salesperson. They are likely going to welcome tools that help them work with the customer.
- Create buying steps. Present the steps in a personal and easy sequence that buyers would actually use. Your site logic needs to ask questions, gather information and distribute it within a database or via email. Get the questions answered which help to build a profile of your potential buyer.
- Program logic to present the right information. Based on answers to questions you receive, your site needs to present the logical next question, form, document, page or email. This is automation in action. Program each step based on preceding conditions and logic.
- Nurture your leads. If some people are not qualified because of criteria such as budget or timeframe, then ensure there is a process to nurture them over the coming weeks and months. This can be a set of predetermined emails, an e-course, a newsletter subscription or sales follow-up dates. The goal is to continue bringing value and help your brand be positioned for the right timing.
- Enter the salesperson. Automation should lead to a personal touch. Manage the entrance and next steps for the prospective buyer with personal communications and a meeting with a salesperson. Set the stage so that the meeting has the right expectations of what the person can expect.
It is hard to make a one-size-fits-all model of automation for the sales process. We have customized many different shapes and sizes depending on a market, customer profile and how a sales team is structured. The key is to look for how the sales process can be optimized and bring the right strategies into play to make the experience personal.
It is work. It will provide a more predictable result and keep you from having to hire expensive salespeople that may be doing a lot of clerical work. Furthermore, you are making it convenient for prospects to engage and providing an easy way for them to think through your value proposition.
How does your sales process work and how could it be better?