Sales Process 101
Acquiring a new client is tough when you’re a service professional. After you’ve identified a lead, you have to guide them through your sales process and sell your services. But there are lots of key steps in between. Besides those big picture things, you have to also:
- Contact the prospect initially
- Schedule meetings
- Host the meeting and ask strategic questions
- Follow up on questions after the meeting
- Determine their needs
- Communicate the value you deliver
- Write a proposal
- Present the proposal
- Get approval
- Send an invoice
- Get paid
And those are just the basics before you can start the actual work! Remember, your sales process is your prospect’s first interaction with your brand. So even though that contact is not a client yet, your sales process essentially gives a potential client a preview of your value and how you would do business with them.
Ask yourself if you have a clear sales process in place that can help you do things like:
- Remember when to call your prospective client back?
- Get calls scheduled?
- Confirm receipt of the proposal?
- Communicate with them if you haven’t heard back?
- Share important facts about your services along the way to nurture the proposal phase?
These questions are just a few of the ones you have to address. Your sales process should be repeatable. You should be able to delegate parts of it to a team member and still maintain your brand’s communication style. And, yes, you should be able to tweak the process when something changes or you learn that something needs to be added or removed.
How you manage these steps can mean the difference between winning and losing a client. Sometimes you can do everything right. But then you forget to confirm if your prospect actually received the proposal after you had emailed them the presentation. And by then, they may have chosen another vendor. Needless to say, one simple process step to send a reminder email could have alerted you to a problem early enough to still win the business.
Write Down the Sales Process Steps
Day-to-day details involving sales and client communications are a large time commitment. But getting out of those day-to-day details and automating the sales process is the only way you can focus on growing your business. So where do you start?
The first step to developing a strong sales process is to write down all the steps. Get everything out of your head and down on paper or into a project management tool. Start with how the lead comes in, then how and when you communicate back. That can look like this: “When a ‘please contact me’ form comes through email, within 4 working hours, contact the person back via email.” A good rule of thumb is to always respond back to the person the way they contacted you – it’s usually a good indicator of what type of communication they prefer: phone or email.
Go through the entire process just like that – in detail, like you were telling an assistant how to do it for you because you were going to be away for a couple of weeks – down to the last step (usually): “Receive payment.”
Make sure you identify how you are remembering to do these things and what type of programs you might use to streamline your process. Below are key steps, as well as the recommended tools to accomplish each.
- Set a reminder in HubSpot to follow up 2 days after initial contact.
- Schedule an initial meeting with the prospect through Calendly. (You can even include the specific link used to access the available schedule in the process).
- Send proposal via AdobeSign.
- Email prospect one day after sending the proposal, to confirm receipt.
- Send an invoice through QuickBooks Online.
- Deposit check through your bank’s mobile app.
- Open a project in Teamwork.
You get the picture. It should be very detailed, very specific, and step-by-step.
Create Email Templates
The many touchpoints throughout a sales process let you communicate your personality, style, brand, and what it is like to work with you. You can include tidbits like, “We are a virtual company, which means no one you work with will ever be stressed out before they start on your project because they’ve been sitting in traffic.”
In that one sentence, you’ve conveyed that the company doesn’t have a physical location that the client can show up to, that there is a benefit to that type of business to the client, and you’ve shown a bit of a sense of humor.
So, after you complete the process, go back through and start setting up email templates for each time you communicate. You should always modify the specific email for individual prospects to make sure it is personal and appropriate but have some standard language that you can use as a default. Email templates can include directions for when to reach out to customers, and what to say. These can live in your CRM or in your project management tool.
As a small business owner, you do not have time to reinvent the wheel every time you want to say, “You should have just received the proposal via AdobeSign. Please check your junk mail if it is not in your inbox. We will always send anything that requires a signature via this method in order to keep our workflow green and paperless.”