Most people admit to having a problem closing sales. So this funnel doesn’t look like MOST sales funnels. It has a super sexy hourglass figure. Let me break it down for you:
The first step in the sales process is Marketing, or what I call sMarketing, which is the salesperson’s role in marketing. We’re not all blessed with a marketing team with a massive budget that creates high converting leads so we have to do it ourselves.
sMarketing’s sole purpose is to peak people’s interest about your product or service.
If you start “selling” before someone has expressed interest, you have broken my cardinal rule of sales, which is to never sell to someone who didn’t ask you to. It happens all the time and that’s why salespeople get bad reps.
Check out my series: 13 sMarketing Strategies to Overflow Your Pipeline with Prospects
As we go through the following steps, remember they must be done in order and no step can be skipped. No matter how sure you are that the client will close, you must take them through the proper sales funnel to insure a sale, long term retention and satisfaction, and referrals.
Once you have generated someone’s interest through your sMarketing efforts, they enter your sales funnel as “Opportunities” or “Leads” or “Suspects.”
Once someone has been identified as an Opportunity, you begin the Discovery phase. The goal is to understand your clients’ needs, determine whether or not they are eligible for your services, and get the answer to some important decision making factors that will determine if it’s the right time to set an appointment, like decision makers, budget, and timeline. The discovery phase can happen via email, phone, in person, or a combination of all three.
The next step is to set a qualified appointment with the client. This can be either in person, via phone, or web meeting. The purpose of the appointment is to present your solution to the problem they identified. This should be a separate, scheduled call where you have previously identified the answers to your key qualifying questions. Customers move into this phase after you have scheduled a qualified appointment. What should you send the customer before their appointment? Absolutely nothing! You will present your offering personally because YOU are a major part of the sale and any “information” gives them reasons to say ‘no.’
This is the meeting where you present your products and services, whether in person or via online demo, based on the information you’ve gathered to this point. On the presentation, you must follow The 8 Steps to Closing the Sale to insure success. Even if you sell one product to everyone, how you sell it will be different, because people buy for different reasons. You need to be the person who speaks directly to the decision makers. People naturally are afraid to make the wrong decision and would rather make no decision. That is why YOU are so important to the sale. Only you can influence them beyond this natural tendency.
Depending on the complexity of your sales cycle, you may have a long follow up period or none at all. Follow up can include following up on paperwork, setting a next meeting with the next department, or following up periodically if your presentation ended in no sale. If you offer any kind of free trial or program, this falls in the follow up period. You must continue to nurture your clients during this period because they are not sold until they begin paying for the product.
A prospect moves from Follow-up to Closed once they have completed all necessary requirements and paid for your product or service.
You’re not done yet! These post-sale steps are very important and they are part of your job as the salesperson even if other people are helping you. My sales funnel looks like an hourglass to remind you that:
The end goal is not a sale; the end goal is referrals.
Otherwise, you will have to continuously work to get prospects in your pipeline by sMarketing and that, over time, leads to salesperson burnout.
Cementing the sale means making sure it is a solid sale, taking certain steps to prevent buyer’s remorse, decreasing customer service issues, and ensuring referrals. I call this “Crystallizing” because it’s a process to make sure your sale is as hard as diamonds.
This is where you deliver the product or service your client purchased. Even if you are not responsible for delivering the product or service, you still want to stay engaged with the client. You’ve probably had the experience before of being sold on something and the salesperson disappearing. Don’t be that person :)
Customer Service is very similar to sales, only it happens after the product is delivered. Customer Service reps and salespeople must understand what the client needs to be continuously “sold” on the product, especially when they have customer service issues, but even when they don’t. Don’t make the mistake of only engaging with your existing customers when they have a service issue.
After the sale is made, surprise your customer with something that was not included in your initial offer. By now, you should understand them so well that you will know what this added value will be for them. In the past I’ve sent books, notebooks, brownies, hand-written notes, and unexpected phone calls. The best surprise is sending your client referrals for their business!
Whether your clients renew automatically on a monthly or annual basis, or if you have to continually enroll them in new programs, upsell or cross sell, it’s as if you have to start all