The lifeblood of any business is sales. Any business has a product or service that people want or need to solve a problem for them, so far we’ve reviewed the ideal client profile and how to craft your marketing message. The next important step is have a sales process mapped out and when you find a successful formula it will be easier to multiply.
What any business wants to create is a sales process to bring in your perfect clients to start building a trust rather than winging it on a hope and a prayer.
This doesn’t need to be like some kind of mission control operating procedure out of NASA. In fact it can be quite straight forward and just by recording this information and tracking certain trends, you can tweak, adapt and forecast.
It’s quite surprising how many businesses we speak to who can’t say for sure how they attract and handle leads or what their conversion rates are. Provided you’ve got your marketing in place, your content generation and you’re attracting customers to you, it’s time to hone your sales process. You may already have a sales process but it’s not written down yet which means you’ve got nothing to look back on and improve. Let’s talk you through some simple steps to get started.
Creating a sales process and sales pipeline
1. Initial enquiry handling
Whether it’s by phone, email or via your website at this stage doesn’t matter but where the lead comes from should be recorded. Have a ‘cheat sheet’ available to ask a series of questions to get to know your prospect client and of course validate the enquiry.
If you go out for a site assessment or meeting, have a blank or standard agenda that you can quickly print off. By standardising this process you can save yourself valuable time and ensure that you get everything you need to write your quote or proposal.
2. Quote or proposal generation
Depending on whether you sell a product or a service will dictate this step, often service business will either quote by project or by day rate. Having a standard template set up for your types of services or types of clients will help you to get quotes out the door quickly.
As a rule, you should set a company standard for the time it takes from enquiry to quoting and ensure that your customers aren’t left hanging. We speak to many businesses who say they sent a quote request out and half the companies didn’t even respond… if they are that busy then good for them.
3. Quote and conversion rate tracking
Once you’ve sent out your quote, it’s key to track the client, source of enquiry, the value of the quote, contact details and set yourself a date to follow up.
Here’s a little secret, I don’t have time nor do I often remember to record my quotes. So when I sent out a quote, I blind copy in a dedicated email address for estimates and once a month input everything into my sales pipeline. Archaic? Maybe but I haven’t gotten around to completely automating our quote process which probably isn’t right for our business anyway.
Your quote tracking could be in the form of a simple spreadsheet, by looking at your quotes each month you can :
- Identify peaks and troughs and adjust your marketing campaigns accordingly
- Analyse your conversion rates, I always say that if your conversion rate is 100% then you might want to rethink your pricing. Conversion rates are a great feedback mechanism.
- Identify where your leads are coming from so that you can do more of what’s working and less of what’s not working. It really isn’t rocket science.
- Record the average time it takes to convert a quote, that way you can start to build up a forecast of sales and gear your business up to manage the sales.
4. Follow up
I have a personal conflict with following up – when I’ve requested a quote from a company if they incessantly chase me on the decision it kind of bugs me. You have to find a balance and find what works for you but regardless of whether people go with your company or not, it’s always valuable to ask if they can provide any feedback.
You can send a quick questionnaire or have a quick phone call to find out how you compared on price, how the customer felt their enquiry was handled, what made their decision for them and so on. These feedback mechanisms are important and can help to make incremental improvements in your business.
I’m sure that there are many more points and steps we can add into the process and this isn’t bullet proof but I don’t want to bore you either. Starting with small, manageable steps will be less daunting but I what I can say is that tracking this information and generating some intelligence around leads will lead to sustainable growth.