How to successfully manage long-lasting sales processes?

Slaven Stojanović, Head of Sales | 10.06.2018.

How to successfully manage long-lasting sales processes?

We’ve already written about the differences between simple and complex sales processes and the importance of systematizing them to make sales as succesful as possible. In this article, I will deal more in-depth with complex sales processes and some of the elements that have shown to be key to more successful sales of products and/or services of higher value.

These processes are considerably longer, so it is of great importance that the salesperson achieves continuous progress throughout the process, as well as a series of small successes, in order to successfully close the sale. In order for a salesperson to make such steady progress in the sales process, it is paramount that they understand that with the sales of their solution, they are helping the client.

Why is this important? It’s simple – without this, nonverbal communication shows this very clearly. If the salesperson is not convinced that their solution really helps the client, the client will need only a few seconds to see how their nonverbal communication is inconsistent with what the salesperson is talking about.

These are some of the basic tips to prepare for such a mindset in sales, for example, before a sales meeting:

  1. leave your ego at the door
  2. create positive emotion
  3. go into the meeting with the right intensity

When you believe in the solution you’re selling and the value it can bring to your client, the next rule to obey during each and every complex sales process is definitely: planning = success.

When planning, we must have clearly set goals for the entire sales process, but also for each step of the process:

  • The goal of the sales process – ie. final sale
  • The goal of each individual meeting – we can generally say that there are two different kinds of goals:
    • Advance – signifies an important breakthrough in a sales process or an essential action that requires specific engagement from a client
    • Engagement – signifies maintaining contact until the client is ready for the next step

For example, if we want to be able to advance to the next stage of the process after the meeting, we can define something of the following as a goal:

  • arranging a meeting with a highly-positioned decision-maker
  • defining project requirements in writing
  • exchanging confidential information essential for the continuation of the project

Knowing the different between the advance and engagement strategies means the difference between successful and unsuccesful sales!

How to define the goal of the next sales meeting well?

To start, I will highlight some of the main errors when defining the sales meeting goal:

  • the set goal is too general, so it’s not clear after the meeting whether the goal has been achieved
  • the set goal is unrealistic (from the client’s perspective)
  • the set goal does not really signify progress in the sales process

Three magical questions to help you define the purpose of a meeting

1. Why does the client need to see you?

The clients wants to see you because of the value, namely the value propositions that you bring to them.
Value proposition = direction + metric + size (amount)
For example, ”we can reduce your staff costs by 19% through the use of automation”.

2. What do you want the client to do?

Here we’re talking about the highest level of effort that you can reasonably expect your potential client to make as a result of the meeting.
Any such action by the client should:
– be specific and measurable
– be focused on a concrete step that the client will take
– move the sales process further
Here we also need to emphasize the difference between the advance and engagement strategies again:
Advance – an action taken by the client
Engagement – interest that does not include a commitment from the client (eg. participation at your next event, etc.)
What I think is very important to point out is that many, even experienced salespeople, fall into the trap and lose a lot of time on clients with no perspective, because they have mixed curiousity (or even decency) with real interest. That is why it’s extremely important to understand how to engage a client to actively participate in the whole process.

3. How can you bring value to a meeting?

It is important that the salesperson undrestands that the client can easily avoid them if they bring no value, but only information (eg., the client can make a purchase through the webshop). On the other hand, the client can cooperate with the salesperson and gain extra value from their sales experience. It is important to understand that you are the most important factor!
When the client sees you as a valuable source of knowledge, a trusted adviser, an expert in the area, and a resource that can help them achieve the desired outcome, they are ready to:

  • share more information with you
  • seek your advice and accept your recommendations
  • recommend you to other
  • increase your sales result in both quantity and value

And in the end…

Don’t waste precious time on meetings that are pointless. To get the maximum value out of each meeting, it is important to have a clearly defined goal and communicate with the client. But what if you take all these steps and the client stops communicating with you? Find out in my next blog post.