Businesses of all sizes need to create a sales process.

This should be a written series of numbered steps covering initially sales leads all the way through to an eventual sale. The majority of businesses I meet have operated for years with no documented process. Predictably the results are varied and it’s hard to know what is working and what isn’t. It’s also difficult to train new staff because there’s no process to train them on.

Use the following as a guide, but add or remove steps as appropriate for your business. I find that once someone sees an example, they can soon create a version for themselves.

Step 1: Greeting: Use a consistent greeting, eg when answering the phone say “Good morning XYZ Electronics, John speaking, how may I help you?”. Have versions for calling out, visiting clients, using at a trade show, etc. Consistently do it the best way.

Step 2: Permission: It’s rude to suddenly start asking questions, and your prospect will react poorly if you do. So ask permission first, eg “Would it be OK if I ask you a few questions so that I can better serve your need?”.

Step 3: Understand the prospect’s need: What would be your initial three questions to ask every prospect to pre-qualify that they might want your product or service? Then what are the follow-up questions? Enter these directly on your database system or have pre-printed sheets for recording leads.

Step 4: What’s your solution?: Now that you know enough about the customer’s need, you can start talking about the appropriate product or service that you have to offer, referring back to how it meets their needs.

Step 5: Agreement: Check that the prospect agrees that you’ve understood their needs, and that your solution sounds relevant. If you determine the person has no immediate need for your product or service, determine if they EVER might, and if so, ask if you can add them to your newsletter mailing list and note a follow-up date, even if it’s a year or more ahead!

Step 6: Arrange a meeting: If your product is low-cost and simple you might be able to close a sale on an initial call. But in many cases all you’ve done so far is to identify a qualified prospect. We’ll assume it’s a larger sale and you want a meeting. Suggest dates and agree the time and place.

Step 7: Send Confirmation pack: You might use email or post, but send your prospect a confirmation of the time and place agreed for the meeting. What else could you send them to enhance the chances that they will eventually buy? If you don’t have anything to send, create something.

Step 8: Confirm Receipt: Allow appropriate time then call to check they’ve received your confirmation pack and they’re ready for the planned meeting. Show enthusiasm for the forthcoming meeting!

Step 9: Prepare: It’s surprising that people invest a lot of valuable time and money visiting a prospect without actually preparing. What information might you need, what documents, eg a contract to sign.

Step 10: Meet and sell: Once at the meeting, check where they stand. If they’re about ready to buy, do only what’s necessary! But otherwise go back over determining their needs, offering your solutions, and checking agreement, before closing the sale. Obviously I can’t cover the necessary skills here to achieve that!

When you implement a sales process in your business you will increase your sales success rate and decrease the time it takes from interest to sale. Train existing staff to follow the process, and use it as part of the induction process for new staff.  If you have no staff at all, you should still create and use a sales process.

There’s much more to say about all the sales process steps that will increase your sales. Go ahead and ask any questions you have, or book a meeting to review your process.