Have you ever wanted more control over your conversations with your prospects?

Of course you have.

When you have control over the conversation, you are able to effectively lead your prospect to your ultimate objective: getting the sale.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always happen this way. Instead, your sales efforts are often derailed because they aren’t planned out effectively. It’s like navigating a maze without a map.

This is why you need an effective entrepreneurial sales process.

Having a sales process makes it easier to understand how to proceed in your conversations with your prospects. A sales process is essential because it helps you stay on track no matter how the conversation goes. No matter what happens in the conversation, you will always be able to steer it in the direction you want.

This post will help you create your own entrepreneurial sales process. Also, you can click here for a free checklist that will make it easier to develop your sales process.

What Is A Sales Process?

A sales process is a progression of stages you will go through when attempting to convince a prospect to become a customer. Each stage includes its own sales tactics.

Each stage of the sales process is designed to move the prospect closer to buying.

When you’re mapping out your sales process, you will determine the tactics that are used in each stage. Every entrepreneur’s sales process is different, but the fundamental sales techniques that are used will be the same.

It’s important to remember that your sales process should serve as a general guideline for the flow of the conversation. You don’t have to follow each step of the process perfectly. A sales process should serve as a blueprint for your conversations with your prospects.

Why Should You Have A Sales Process?

A sales process gives you an easy progression to follow during your conversations with your prospects. A sales process makes it easier for you to control your sales conversations.

Here’s the bottom line: a sales process helps you get more paying clients. It helps you sell more effectively. It’s been shown that companies that have a sales process  earn 18% more revenue than companies that don’t.

When you have a viable sales process, it’s easier for you to remember which sales techniques to use. It also helps you to plan out each conversation you will have with your prospects before you begin speaking with them. To put it simply, it makes you better prepared to sell.

It’s Time To Create Your Sales Process

Now that you know you should have a sales process, you need to know how to create one. When developing your sales process, there are two things you should keep in mind:

  • Your sales process needs to be adaptable. No sales conversation will go exactly as planned. You need to be able to change tactics on the fly. Having a set sales plan makes this easier.
  • Every sales interaction is different. There is no “one size fits all” formula. When possible, plan out your sales flow for each unique prospect.

Step 1: Preparation

Step 1 occurs before you being the actual sales interaction. It involves pre-qualifying your prospect beforehand.

This is really important.

It’s important because it will save you a lot of wasted time if you do it well. You need to do as much research as you can before going after the sale. You need to figure out if a particular lead is worth pursuing.

When looking at a potential prospect, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this person really need my product or service?
  • Can they afford it?
  • Are they open to buying?

You won’t be able to answer all of these questions for each prospect. That’s okay. These questions will serve as a sort of “pre-screening.” It allows you to eliminate prospects that are clearly not a fit for your company.

Step 2: Initial Interaction

This stage is the beginning of the sales process. This is the part where you introduce yourself. This part of the process is incredibly important. It’s where you will make your first impression.

This is the opportunity to position yourself effectively. If this phase goes well, it will increase the chances that the rest of the conversation will go well. That’s why it’s so important.

Effective positioning involves three components:

  • Who you are.
  • What benefit your company offers.
  • Evidence that proves your claims.

Apply these three components to your business and you will have a solid introduction.

Step 3: Understanding Your Prospect

This is the part of the process where you get to know your prospect. You need to understand your prospect as much as possible.

This is arguably the most important part of the sales process. If you don’t do this part well, the rest of the conversation won’t be as effective.

You need to get into your prospects’ heads. You need to understand what makes them tick. You have to find out what keeps them up at night.

Find out their pain points. Figure out what problems they want to solve.

The information you find out in this phase will make it much easier to convince them to become paying customers. The only way you can do this right is to ask good open-ended questions that are focused on the prospect.

The better you understand your prospect, the more effective your pitch will be.

Warning: you will be tempted to pitch at this stage. DON’T DO IT.

I’m serious.

This isn’t the time to start talking about how wonderful your product or service is. It’s time to listen carefully to what your prospect is saying.

You will have plenty of time to pitch later, I promise!

Step 4: The Pitch

See? I told you that you would be able to pitch later!

Now is the time to talk about your product or service. This is where you will convince your prospect that they would be foolish not to become your customer.

However, there are some important things to keep in mind.

First, don’t try to sell your product or service. Sell the solution to their problem.

This is why it was so important to listen carefully. You can’t solve a prospect’s problem if you don’t know what it is.

If you did the last section the right way, you know what obstacles your prospect is struggling with. Talk to them about how your company can help them overcome those obstacles.

When pitching, you must focus on the benefits of your product or service. Not the actual features that make up your product or service.

So what’s the difference?

The features are the parts and pieces that make up your product or service. It’s the nuts and bolts.

The benefit is the outcome of using your product or service. It’s how it actually impacts their lives.

Want an example? Let’s use an umbrella.

The features would be the plastic covering and the metal rods it is connected to. The benefit is the fact that it prevents the rain from soaking you.

See what I mean?

Your prospect doesn’t care about the metal rods and plastic covering. They care about the fact that they won’t get soaked in the rain. You have to apply this principle to your product or service.

If you sell primarily on features, you will lose. If you talk about the benefits, you will win.

Step 5: The Close

After pitching, it’s time to ask for the sale. Many people forget this part. They become consumed by pitching their product, and they forget what comes after the pitch.

They forget to ask the prospect for the business.

This part isn’t too complicated. Before you ask for the business, make sure you both are on the same page. Go over the points that you discussed previously.

Make sure there are no further questions or objections before you close. If there are no other questions or objections at that point, then go ahead and ask for the business.

If you get an objection, then proceed accordingly. If not, then it’s time to take the payment and fulfill the order!

But it’s not over yet….

Step 6: Fulfillment And Fostering Relationships

After earning the business, you need to build on the relationship. This is true even if your sales process is more transactional than relational.

After convincing your prospect to become a customer, it’s time to start deepening the relationship. Now that you have turned your prospect into a customer, you need to work on turning your customer into a brand evangelist.

If you do this right, you will have customers that do the selling for you. They will refer others to your company and your sales process will become much easier. Don’t neglect your customer after they have given you your business. Foster a profitable relationship.

One of the best ways to do this is to exceed their expectations and deliver a “wow” experience. Follow Zappo’s example. Whenever possible, go to the extreme to make your clients happy.

If you promise to fulfill their order within a certain time period, get it done earlier. Give them extra information that they didn’t ask for. Give your customer more than you have promised. You want to do unexpected things that will delight your customer.

You also need to make sure you’re communicating with your customers as much as you can. Each communication should be designed to help your customer in some way. This helps you build a better relationship.

Conclusion

If you are an entrepreneur, you need to know how to sell. If you want to become better at persuading prospects to become customers, you must develop your own entrepreneurial sales process. It may not be easy at first, but once you get used to following a set framework, you will close more deals and grow your business.

Want an easier way to build your own entrepreneurial sales process? Download my free checklist today!

This article was originally published on LinkedIn