A good sales process is critically important to the success of your reps and your business. If you’ve ever seen a really skilled salesperson work, it seems almost effortless. They ask great questions, craft the perfect proposal, answer questions, address concerns and seamlessly seal the deal.
Underneath the surface of all of that, the salesperson has probably dedicated hours honing their craft and ensuring the process moves smoothly. One of the challenges that often surfaces when working with a remote sales team is a lack of transparency over what is happening, and where in the process things are taking place. We’re going to peel back the curtain and show you how to create the best sales process for your remote team.
Creating a remote-first sales process
Here are the seven steps your reps should be using with clients to close a deal. Like anything else, there may be some nuance from industry to industry and deal to deal. What is most important is tailoring your experience to be the best for the customer you’re working with.
At this stage in the sales process, your rep is looking for potential customers to speak with. There are many ways to do this including obtaining a list of industry professionals, joining a chamber of commerce and reaching out to fellow members, or using LinkedIn’s search functionality to find people who fit your persona. No matter what method you choose, shoot for quality over quantity. Reaching out to 200 strong prospects takes much less time and effort than weeding through 2,000 weaker ones.
2. Outreach and Qualification
Once your salesperson has a good list of prospects, they’ll begin to reach out to these contacts to qualify them. In order to qualify a prospect, your seller may start with some questions via email or request a short introductory meeting. These conversations will help your salesperson determine if your product or service might be a good fit for the prospect. If the prospect is a good fit, they will want to keep the process moving. If the prospect is not a good fit at this time (or at all) they will want to stop the process and make a note in the CRM. The notes on why a prospect isn’t a fit may seem like a waste of time, but this data has value. You can use it to give your salesperson feedback on their prospecting ability or to consider different products or services your business may want to consider in the future.
For example, if you provide digital marketing services and your seller is calling on new business without a marketing budget, you may want to ask your seller to focus on more established businesses with at least one person in the marketing department and choose to disqualify those that don’t have the appropriate indicators.
Conversely, you could also offer a package for this business owner that is more basic and more cost-effective to get them started! You won’t be able to make either of these business decisions until you have this data!
3. Demonstrate your value
This is the part where your seller will provide their demo or sales pitch. Even though the seller will ultimately need to demonstrate the value of the product or service it is important to focus on the benefits to the client. The value is only as strong as the client feels that it is. Sellers want to show prospective clients how after making the purchase their lives will be different and better.
4. Send more information (if appropriate)
After the sales pitch or demo, and depending on the product or service, your sales rep might need to create a formal written proposal. A template that can easily be customized for the client will be really helpful in speeding this along and keeping things on brand. You want to aim for your proposal to be 75% standard 15% industry-specific if you work in multiple industries and 10% customized for your client. While this ratio might not exactly work in every scenario, it is a good one to strive for with complex opportunities.
With a more straightforward SaaS product, you might just provide your prospect with the recommended pricing tier and a few notes on the support you’ll provide, or a confirmation email recapping next steps.
5. Handle remaining questions and objections
Once the prospect has had a chance to review the proposal, they might be ready to close if your seller has done a great job qualifying and demonstrating the value. However, the sales rep should be prepared to handle any questions or objections that are lingering. Common questions and objections at this phase might be:
- We got three bids and yours was the most expensive. Can you lower your pricing to be more competitive?
- My boss says we don’t really need your services but I think we do. Can you share a few more case studies of how you’ve worked with companies like us?
- We love what you’ve offered but don’t have the budget this year.
- We don’t have the resources to implement your solution
You previously should have trained your sales rep on common questions and objections based on your own sales experience so that they will be able to think proactively about responses before they actually reach this point. This will help them be prepared and come up with the best response. How many times have you been having a discussion and been caught off guard only to think of the perfect response hours later? That’s what this exercise is for. Don’t just take our word for it—HubSpot has rounded up a list of 40 common sales objections and offers some great tips for handling them.
6. Best and final offer
Once the salesperson has answered every question and handled every objection in the sales process, they might need to go back and carefully review their offer to see if they can make it more appealing. The prospective client may ask for what is called a best and final offer. While we don’t recommend going straight for the discount, we do recommend being smart when revising the offer. Can you remove some services that your client might not really need in the beginning? Can they start with a lower tier on the pricing plan? Can you add an extra piece of content development to your strategy so they feel valued? It’s ok to be creative here, but remember someone has to execute on whatever you commit to.
According to Challenger Inc., in 2020 only a quarter of 300 sellers they polled offered discounts in more than half of their 2020 deals. Challenger also found that high-performing sellers used constructive tension, or the power of the pause 17% more than their peers. When in final negotiations remember it’s okay for sellers to be silent, use active listening skills and let the client talk it out a little.
7. Close the deal
Once the prospect has heard the best and final, it is important that the seller do everything they can at that moment to close the deal. The longer your prospect spends thinking about it, the more likely it is that they will make no decision at all. This can be due to bringing more people into the process or just generally having decision fatigue. Often when deals are not lost to a competitor they are lost to deciding to do nothing at all!
When closing the deal, the salesperson should align on the next steps and manage expectations through the end of the sales process. If the prospect ultimately decides not to move forward, the rep should finish out the process professionally and thoroughly. A “no” now could still become a “yes” later, and it is more likely to happen if your prospect remembers that they had a great experience with your rep. Make sure your training includes protocol like thanking the prospect for their time and asking if it is okay to stay in touch or invite them to reach out should needs or budget change. Your reps should also keep great notes in the CRM tool so that this prospect isn’t called again inappropriately, or, if the prospect does reach back out, the assigned rep can quickly refresh on the situation.
If the prospect says yes, the sales rep should thank them and welcome them as a customer. Then they’ll need to outline the next steps. For example, something like:
“We’re so glad we’ll be working with you to get your new marketing strategy up and running. I've attached the details of your package. Next you’ll get an email from Jen to schedule your kick-off meeting and be assigned your account rep. During your kick-off meeting, we will introduce your project team, let you know what access we need to start, and review your project plan and timeline.”
Remember that the sales process doesn’t end with the close—for a long-term contract you’ll be working to earn the business each and every day you work with your customers. It is important that your team provides the value that was described in the sales process. Keeping current clients is much more cost-effective than bringing in new business so be sure to deliver for your clients each and every day.
By defining and following internal and external processes, your team will have clarity on their goals and expectations and have the right tools and resources to attract and retain customers for your business. Like anything else, committing to these processes, practicing consistently, and continuing to improve will help your team members succeed and grow your business.