Three Steps to A More Successful Sales ProcessThere is a saying that gets circulated often…“Who calls anymore?”

The days of the cold sales call and door-to-door salesmen are long gone.

In fact, our prospects don’t even want to talk to someone until they are very close, if not completely, ready to make a purchase.

The sales process must evolve accordingly, of course. Now we create content to get found online and to inform that buyer. We insert ourselves into their purchase path with the answers to their questions. Your content moves that prospect through the sales funnel to a warm lead and then to qualified lead, and eventually to a buying customer.

Knowing this, the sales team is now dealing with a customer at the bottom of the sales funnel. Your content has qualified them to the point of the traditional "sales call." Now, they must be prepared for a very informed customer on the cusp of purchase, and be able to make the most of that final contact to be able to close the deal.

Three Steps to A More Successful Sales Process

Lynette Ryals provides some tips to do that in her recent article for Making the Most of Your Sales Call, in the Harvard Business Review. While she calls it out for B2B specifically, these tips apply to any business sector:

  • Sell value, not products. This may require a philosophical shift organizationally. No one wants to be sold to. Think about how you’d react in the situation with your own sales process. Everything from your content to your sales teams should be focused on the customers’ needs and how you solve their problem; not on the features of your product. Make that emotional connection. Don’t sell hammers, sell a home.
  • Only use relevant examples and anecdotes. The highest success rate results when a moderate number of relevant examples are used, whereas, the success rate declines either when few are used or when too many are used. Lynette references an inverted ‘U’ shape in studies about when to use case studies and testimonials. Gather a large number of customer testimonials so you always have a relevant example to share across a wide range of industries. Make sure they do a good job of showing how they solved an issue and don’t sound too commercial. Don't share too many. But share enough.
  • Plan the sales call. Many sales people feel experienced enough to just go in and wing it. This is never a good idea. Your sales team should over prepare. Do research. Understand who the meeting is with and what their attitude is before arriving in the room. Do you have one proponent and several detractors or skeptics? Know the dynamics and understand the role each person plays so you can identify what their pain points might be. They'll be different depending on if the person in question is the end user, or the CFO, for example. Have a number of scenarios prepared in terms of negotiations. Be prepared to overcome any objections. Role play.

Our prospects are now more informed than ever before. They are armed with your information, as well as your competitors. The most important thing is to respect that knowledge and respect their time.

Provide content that gets them to the point where they want to buy from you. By the time they’ve reached your sales team, they are a qualified lead, and just need that final hand hold over the finish line to happiness ever after.

What do you think? Have you seen the shift in your industry?