Over the past few years, the majority of the work that we have done with customers is on defining (or refining) their sales process. This was necessitated by the dramatic changes exhibited in buying behavior during the economic downturn. And indeed, the most important aspect of our customer’s sales processes is that it mirrors how their customers buy from them. During conversations in both a formal and informal settings, we are asked “how many steps should there be in the sales process?” If we knew that exact answer for each of our customers, we would be retired and they would have Instagram-like success!
So instead of trying to pinpoint the exact number of steps in a sales process, here are the must have, Top Three milestones that each team/seller must have in place to assure success. Please note that very few of our B to B customers have only 3 milestones (or stages), but when pushed to the wall, here are the 3 you can’t live (or sell) without:
1- Access to the Key Players (Decision Maker): there is nothing new to the notion that you must get access to all of the key players, but the budget scrutiny that many organizations have placed on all expenditures since 2008 has made this step even more difficult. A clear articulation on how all important titles would benefit from the usage of your product/service is a mandatory requirement for completing this stage.
2- Clear Understanding of Value: once you have the access as described in #1, can the individuals understand the value that your offering provides. Without this, you will be dancing in the dark when it comes time to go into the evaluation phase.
3- An Approved Implementation Plan: approved as you co-develop the opportunity with your customer/prospect, not after the deal is signed. This sole step can help you to determine your “pole position” deep into opportunity development, and the seriousness of the participant’s gauges how “sticky” your solution will be thereafter.
One of our customers in the Medical Device industry was struggling to get into conversations with the key players in their existing customer base on a new offering they had obtained through an acquisition. The offering was an existing diagnostic test with a new enhanced feature. The challenge was that the enhanced feature provided a benefit that had never been completely commercialized. We sat down with a cross functional team from their organization and built a pro-forma model of what impact the solution had on the existing practices in the testing environment, and who would benefit from this. They went searching for data to substantiate their assertions of what value this add-on widget could provide. They found a reputable research company that had done a study that provided the information they were looking for. We were able to help build a dollar value and a testing value into a pro-forma model (Benefit Summary). The Benefit Summary provided all involved with a complete understanding of the value of their new enhanced feature.
Next, we helped them to create a prototype of an Implementation Plan that correlated with how they could roll this out to their customers. Once completed, the sales process plan was delivered and executed with their main customers. As a result, they have successfully sold an additional 12% in total revenue on this product alone in an $80 million dollar division.
What are you or your organization waiting for to drive more revenue? Let us help you to define (or refine) these steps and start picking up incremental revenue now!