Monthly Archives: October 2016

Sales Process: How many stages should it have and does it matter?

Many people I know switch off as soon as they hear the word ‘process’ and today, whilst doing my research for this Blog, I completely understood why. I have commented before about the amount of articles Google throws at you when you search for the definition of a sales process and that is understandable.  However, when I looked up how many stages the sales process should have, I assumed that there would be just a few answers but I was wrong. Sales strategy sites suggest there are anything from three to thirteen recommended stages: once more sales and marketing strategy has failed to provide us with a definitive answer.

Does this mean that having a sales process is not important, as you cannot take it to a scientific precision level?  Not at all.  Like most strategies involving marketing and sales, you need to concentrate on the end result, which is having more people interested in your company and your product.

Now people, as we all know, are unpredictable and fickle.  They make their minds up and then change it last minute; give us all the right signals only to walk away….  In other words, you need a process combining all the elements that worked for you in the past, which will increase your conversion rate and give you more sales.

Having answered this question, we can go back to the stages of the sales process. How many should you have? Well, I don’t think that matters as long as you cover all elements of the process, which are:

  1. Create a sales and marketing strategy
  2. Run lead generation activities aimed at your identified target market
  3. Connect with interested parties to understand their needs
  4. Present the right solution
  5. Win the business

If you have read so far, you may well be disappointed and feeling that I have stated the obvious but my point is that whilst the elements of the process remain the same, the real difference between sales success and failure is in the details. These will relate to your selling environment, company culture, target markets and end goal. That is why creating a sales process is an art and a skill requiring careful consideration.

In conclusion:

  • A good sales process will make all the difference in terms of improved conversion so you definitely need one!
  • How many stage you include depends on your business but be sure to include the five elements above
  • If you are recruiting a sales person for the first time, you must ensure that you have a process in place before they start
  • If your sales team is not performing, the first thing to check is the sales process

If you are unsure where to start or need some support, check out our sales person support package here.

Sales Skills: Order takers and order getters

Wondering what on earth I am talking about? Here are the definitions according to Business Dictionary:

Order taker: A type of salesperson who only collects orders but does not make any diligent attempt to find new customers, or to persuade existing customers to increase the size or frequency of their orders.

Order getter: A Type of salesperson who increases the firm’s sales revenue by acquiring orders from new customers and more orders from the existing customers.

Which sales person would you like in your business?

Before you all rush to say that you would like an order getter, remember that it all depends on your sales goals and business environment. In some situations, order takers can be just the ticket as they are more customer service orientated. Order getters, as their name suggest, can sometimes come across as aggressive, which is not what you need in every situation.

I found a quote I particularly like which supports my above point, from The Sales Guy:

‘There is a big difference between an order taker and an order maker.  Order makers are indispensable to their customers and to their company.  Order takers take orders and when the orders dry up . . . you hope you have an order maker.’

How do you decide on the matter? If you are considering taking a new sales person on board, before you call the recruitment company or post your advert, have a think about the following aspects:

  • What are the main opportunities the sales person will be working on?
  • What are the target markets they will be appealing to?
  • Which of your products and services will they be focusing on?
  • What will the sales process look like?

I cannot stress enough how important It is to clarify your opportunities, target markets and sales goals before you get a sales person on the case. Like all professionals, your new sales person will require direction, goals and KPIs in order to drive the type of sales you would like.

A lack of preparation on your part may well result in a failure of your new appointment and a disappointment to all involved so take it seriously. If you lack experience and knowledge of sales I would strongly recommend that you seek external help.

Here are a few things we can do to help you out.


Content Marketing: Have you tried writing engaging communications about making widgets?

Apparently, we now live in the age of social selling, defined by Wikipedia as the process of developing relationships as part of the sales process. Today continues Wikipedia, this often takes place via social networks but can take place either online or offline.  Using Social Media, as we all know, requires the creation of content which in order to develop relationships must be engaging and relevant. Gone are direct, pushy sales messages: now we all need to demonstrate how helpful we are in order to attract customers.

If you were to embrace this into your sales and marketing strategy, which I think you should, you need to create authentic communications. Why so? Because your clients are much more likely to be attracted to them. So what is authenticity?  Well, it’s a big word so I looked it up in the dictionary:

Authenticity: the quality of being authentic; not false or copied; genuine; real

Got that? It all sounds great, we could all do with being more real and genuine… I am sure that many business owners could generate genuine information about their areas of expertise. But the other question is of course, will this information be engaging for the reader?  That would depend on two main factors:

  1. The subject matter
  2. Your target market

Should you choose your subject matter based on the particular target market you are trying to reach?  Yes of course you should. Does that mean you are not being 100% authentic?  Perhaps not but as long as you are about 75% there I think that should be OK J

What if your area of expertise is very dull to most common folk? Well, you need to concentrate on being helpful and finding topics which common folk needs help in when it comes to your industry. Don’t forget that different people are interested in different things so it helps be clear on the target market you are trying to engage.

What sort of communication can you use? Social Media gives you a lot of choices and you can do almost anything from weekly tips to monthly Blogs, white papers and e-books. Anything goes as long as it’s been thought through and has an appeal to your target market.

What if you find writing difficult or have no time for it? One word: outsource it (OK it’s two)

But even if you do outsource I think you need to be involved in the content plan and help steer the topics and themes as the expert in your business. If you find this hard, you will be happy to know that I have done my bit to be helpful and come out with a document that can help you produce authentic yet engaging ideas for your business communications. Download it here