In order to convert potential leads into real sales, each business needs to draw up a sales plan in line with its objectives, which is no easy task.
Every sales team brings its own tricks and creativity to the sales process, but all of this has a solid base, a set of established phases that tells you what steps to follow and in what order to achieve a successful sale.
What it is and how the sales process works
The sales process is made up of a set of steps that a company must carry out from the moment it tries to capture the attention of a potential customer until an effective sale of the company's product or service is achieved because the customer has been accompanied throughout the whole process and has finalised his purchase.
When we launch a product or service on the market , we must have previously analysed our customers in order to know their needs and anticipate them, but for this we must understand what the stages of the sales process are.
The sales process could be described as a funnel, since throughout the process it is important to filter the prospects in order to take them through each of the stages, prepare them to close the sales and subsequently build their loyalty.
However, consumers are increasingly complex, so the sales process can involve an additional cost of effort that it did not have before. For this reason we must have full knowledge of the stages of the process to guide our customers to meet our goal: to sell and retain them.
One tip to bear in mind is that not all the process is 100% applicable to all types of companies. Depending on the needs of your business, you can adapt, add or remove steps until you find the perfect method for you. If you personalise the sales process by adapting it to your requirements, closing sales will be much easier.
The 6 phases of the sales process
The phases that you must follow step by step to achieve a successful sales process are:
- search and qualification of leads
This stage is considered to be one of the most complex and involves identifying your potential customers and determining their needs and how you can help them.
For this, it is essential to do some market research to create your buyer persona or ideal customer profile, which includes relevant data of this ideal profile. This is known as "qualifying" the potential customer.
Creating a buyer persona will be of great help for the company to communicate better with the audience, as well as to develop products and services according to the real needs and problems of the customer.
That said, you should verify which of these potential customers have more things in common with your buyer persona to define to whom you should direct your sales strategy to be effective.
In this phase of the sales process, you must analyse all the information that has been collected from the leads. For this it is essential to understand their needs, their commercial capacity, their decision-making power, the reasons for the purchase, their style, among others.
This step is very important because once you know the concerns of your lead you will know how to approach them and understand the objectives of the first contact. The preparation phase, as its name suggests, prepares us so that the first contact with this potential customer is a success.
In the presentation phase we will use the material we have previously prepared to demonstrate how our product or service meets the needs of the potential customer. Through videos or interactive content we will be able to present our products and services in a creative and innovative way. We must demonstrate how our product or service can meet the needs of the potential customer.
Being calm and confident will help to approach customers in a better way, but it is also important that the sales agent is friendly and personable to make a good impression.
- argumentation and objection handling
Objections management is one of the easiest steps to overlook, but also one of the most crucial. It is at this stage that the sales agent presents the product to the potential customer, making known its features and how it could help him to meet his needs.
Once the product has been presented, it is necessary to listen to the potentialcustomer's concerns and respond to them in a satisfactory manner. In order to handle them properly, we must do a good job of research to find out what are the most frequent doubts of customers and how we can resolve them.
For this phase in particular, the AIDA method is a good tactic to analyse the progressive process that a customer goes through to make a purchase decision and the idea is to capture their attention, cause interest and desire to get them to make the purchase.
- Attention: stimulating the customer to learn about the characteristics of the product or service.
- Interest: how the product or service can satisfy the customer's needs.
- Desire: a good argumentation will generate the customer's desire to have the product or service you are selling.
- Action: buy the product or service.
When applying this method, the consumer will have some questions, but a well-prepared sales agent will know how to solve them, in addition to mastering the handling of sales objections.
- closing the sale
Once you have reached this point, you have already got the customer interested in your product, so it is time to convince them to close the deal. Take care to follow up with potential customers and respect the time frame until they are ready to buy.
There are several techniques to convince the customer to finalise the business deal. Depending on your objectives and your business strategy, you can opt for one of these three closing strategies:
- Alternative closing: offering an alternative choice to the customer, e.g. the option to pay in instalments.
- Extra benefit closing: offering something extra to convince the customer to take the final step, such as a free month or a discount.
- Limited offer closing: this involves creating a sense of urgency, for example, by saying that the price is going to go up soon or that stocks are low.
We have closed the sale, but the work is not over yet. After-sales is one of the strategies used by companies to increase customer retention and foster loyalty towards your brand. In this phase we continue in contact with the customer in order to encourage possible future purchases and get them to recommend us to their family and friends.
The idea of after-sales service is to provide customers with all the tools they need to get the most out of the product or service they have purchased. In addition, good after-sales service will increase their level of satisfaction and it will be possible to convert them into repeat buyers.
Each and every one of these stages adds value to your strategy as a brand. Take them into account when developing your sales process and you will achieve your business objectives: increase your customer list and, above all and most importantly, build customer loyalty.