In our last article, we shared the power of developing a five-stage sales process that will ensure your sales team becomes more productive and profitable for your organization.
As a reminder, the most effective sales processes consist of five stages. You already learned about stages one and two of the sales process, and today, we’ll reveal stages three, four, and five.
Executing these five stages is critical to driving your revenue-generating machine – your SALES PROCESS.
Stage One – First Meeting/Discovery – Is there a problem we can solve?
Stage Two – Solutioning – Share how we can solve the problem(s).
Stage Three – Business Alignment – How can we align to solve it/them?
Stage Four – Proposal – What will it cost to solve it?
Stage Five – Closed Won or Lost – This stage needs no explanation!
Stage Three – Business Alignment
60% of all deals end in a decision not being made.
It’s a common problem, and one primary reason is often ignored or missed – It’s due to the lack of business alignment.
Sending a proposal to the decision maker without proper context usually leads to low interest and skepticism.
As a result, salespeople often hear responses like “this is not a priority,” “we’re not interested,” or “we’ll revisit this next year.” And once the boss says no, all their hard work goes to waste.
Don’t let this happen to your team.
The business alignment stage is crucial in closing the gap between your solution and the proposal. It involves creating a compelling business case for change by ensuring all the relevant stakeholders are involved in the discussion.
Here’s what your team needs to do:
- Work with the prospect to map your solution’s future-state outcomes and financial implications.
- Create an executive summary of the findings and share it with the decision maker(s).
- Book a meeting with all relevant stakeholders to review the executive summary and share the business case for change.
- If the business case is accepted, create a Mutual Action Plan (MAP) to move forward with the buying decision – https://www.saleshacker.com/mutual-action-plans/
This added step not only improves your team’s win rates but also confirms the scope of work and ensures genuine buy-in from the prospect. Make the extra effort; it’s worth it!
Stage Four – Proposal
The proposal stage is not about “selling” your service. It’s about recapping the value your team can provide and justifying the cost/investment it will take. If you’ve executed the three other stages of the sales process correctly, there’s no “hard closing” or “convincing needed” at this point. There are, however, a few steps your team can take to set them up for success:
- Create an executive summary highlighting the critical problems you’ve uncovered, the macroeconomic or internal/external forces causing them, and how those problems will hurt your prospect’s ability to hit their key goals.
- Clearly define the solution and reconfirm any features, functions, and solutions you provide to address how you’ll solve their problem.
- Present a business case that helps your prospect understand the need for change and the ROI they’ll receive by accepting your proposal.
- Provide case studies and references to show how you’ve helped similar companies achieve great results. This helps alleviate their perceived risk and instills confidence in their decision to move forward.
- Present your pricing in a way that is clear and transparent. Clearly define any specific discounts, payment terms, due dates, and incentives.
Proposals should be visually appealing, easy to read, and use pictures and graphs. Minimize the “fluff” and limit it to one or two pages of information that people can quickly review, understand, and allow them to make an educated business decision.
There are also a few essential tips that your team needs to follow when entering the proposal stage:
- Be prepared to get squeezed. People will often ask your sales team to give them discounts. Stick to your guns, and share your “best and final” pricing in the proposal.
- Wait to give discounts (if at all) until the end of the sales process. If a prospect asks you for a discount, the response should be, “We’re happy to discuss ways to improve our partnership, but we normally address this when someone agrees to move forward with our solution. Are we at that point in the process?”
If yes, seek to understand what they’re looking for and see if you can compromise on a discount you’re comfortable with.
If no, the response should be, “I’m happy to work with you on this, but I need to understand exactly what you’re asking, and if we’re the partner you’re ready to choose. If so, can we determine if we’re the right partner before discussing the price?”
- Know what you’re willing to negotiate ahead of time. Your salespeople will often be asked to give away something (price, terms, conditions, etc.). When a prospect asks for something, your team must be ready to ask for something in return.
- Lower Cost = Longer Term
- Shorter Term = Higher Cost
- Use of website information
- Video Testimonials
- Pricing increases over time
Once your team knows the prospect wants to go with your solution, you now have leverage. If a prospect wants you to concede in some aspect, your salespeople should ask them for something meaningful in return. If done correctly, the prospect will know they’re approaching thin ice if they ask for too much. If you’re willing to walk away from the deal, they’ll typically ask for less than they originally wanted.
Buyers are trained to keep pushing sellers until they are told NO. When you’ve entered into negotiations, you’ve already won. You know the prospect wants to do business with you, and they’re simply trying to acquire your services at the best possible price and term. The faster you get to a NO, the quicker you’ll win deals. But remember, this needs to be a mutual partnership. Sales teams should be wary of saying NO too early on in the process while also being willing to work with their prospects within reason. And once the prospect sees that a salesperson is ready to walk away from the deal, it’s more likely they’ll agree to move forward than not.
Stage Five – Closed Won or Lost
The best salespeople on Earth embrace the art of winning and losing with grace.
Business shouldn’t only be based on securing the deal. True, professional salespeople adopt the mindset that business revolves around how you handle success and defeat.
Great salespeople celebrate their victories with gratitude and kindness. They show appreciation to their clients by sending thoughtful gifts and expressing their gratitude. They also routinely ask for referrals and ensure their partnership gets off to a great start. The best salespeople nurture their relationships by offering support during the implementation phase and following up regularly. They stay top of mind by sharing industry insights, providing value AFTER the sale, and confirming with their prospects that they’ll always be there when needed.
Of course, salespeople aren’t going to win every deal. And instead of letting defeat and disappointment get the best of them, they should take their losses in stride and focus on future opportunities.
By taking the high road and being a true professional, they’ll be remembered for their integrity, expertise, and patience. Often, they’ll get another shot to secure the business down the line at a later date.
At The Sales Collective, our team of experts has a wealth of knowledge and decades of experience helping companies of all types and sizes rebuild their sales process from top to bottom. Many of our clients have seen dramatic increases in revenue, win rates, and profitability, and we’d be happy to share more if and when the time is right. If you’d like more information, please visit us at: TheSalesCollective.com.