Article

Nigel Cullington
Nigel Cullington 15 January 2020

5 Steps To A Winning Sales Process

The increasing digitalisation of the sales process has ushered in a new era of customer experience and interaction. The principles, despite the growing role of AI, have not changed. A winning sales process is one which understands this, that technological advancement will be obsolete without the human interactions that continue to underpin the sales process.

A customer-centric sales model is a prerequisite for success, especially with the proliferation of subscription based business models. As businesses inhabit the post-CRM space, the selling process has had to evolve, acknowledging the growing influence of technology, but without neglecting the human element. 

Customer Relationship Management (CRM), traditionally the sales tool of choice, is being superseded by Customer Revenue Optimisation (CRO). The logic behind this is to create an integrated process, one that transforms the sales strategy of the enterprise by aligning the various elements of corporate infrastructures around the customer.

With this in mind, what must sales teams do in order to create a repeatable, winning sales process and an improved customer experience?

1. Do your research 

No two sales calls are the same. Preparation for one customer rarely, if ever, equates to a successful call with another. This is where a Sales Call Plan can streamline the process, helping sales representatives go into conversations with the required preparation to succeed.

Having a list of desired outcomes sets the parameters with which to measure the call as successful or unsuccessful. A sales call doesn’t have to subscribe to the “sell” or “fail” binary; it can be a process in which a mutual understanding is built, and trust is developed. By having a Sales Call Plan, you can map out the whole process, from the first phone call to closing.

2. Get relationships right

The ushering in of the Customer Revenue Optimization (CRO) sales era should not and does not mean that revenue becomes more important than relationships - quite the opposite. A happy customer, one whose needs have been understood from the beginning of the process through to the close, is one who will come back again. Enterprise selling incorporates the entire extended revenue team to create this sales cycle, from marketing to customer success, from product specialists to distribution.

This helps create a complete experience, with the application of company-wide CRO methodology ensuring that every member of the revenue team is on the same page. From the opening sales call through to close, CRO ensures everything is tailored towards the customer to create the best possible relationship and experience.

3. AI is not the enemy

There is a certain apprehension amongst salespeople that AI and machine learning will make their jobs redundant. However, AI, if used properly, has the potential to restructure the process to give the salesperson the information they need in a format they can understand.

In a global survey of almost 600 executives conducted by MIT Technology Review Insights, 90% of companies reported deploying AI across some aspect of their customer journey. This enables a sale to be successful, augmenting the sellers’ capabilities and reducing time-consuming administration like email prioritisation, activity tracking and forecasting, so salespeople can focus on customer experience.

Ilona Hansen, senior director analyst at Gartner, understands the importance of intertwining AI into the sales process, explaining that “the time gained through the automation of standard sales tasks presents sellers with more time to prospect and find new revenue.”

4. Internal alignment assists the customer

The experience and knowledge of the sales team needs to be shared across marketing and customer success in order to create a consistent customer experience. The sales process is extensive in its scope, starting with marketing sourcing leads for the sales team to prospect, and leading into customer success supporting existing accounts. It is about the flow of information, continuously building up a data portfolio which helps the enterprise understand and serve the customer more effectively.

A benchmark 2019 study found that 64% of enterprises felt their sales and marketing teams work well together. There is a huge upside here - one which, as the sales process becomes more integrated, can have a lasting impact on creating exceptional customer experiences.

5. A continuous process of customer engagement 

Every interaction has value. Whether it’s a reaffirmation of an existing relationship or an expansion into new ground, every conversation with the customer is important. A truly great sales process is not one obsessed with closing deals but one which proactively seeks opportunities beyond the limits of an existing sales opportunity. As one door closes, another should be opened, the sales process developing into better outcomes through unique customer experiences.

In 2019, it is obvious that the sales process isn’t what it once was. Analytics are now AI-driven and the whole process is being centralised and coordinated using online platforms. Inevitably, technology will drive sales to new heights but this has to be coexistent with a human element, one that has underpinned sales interactions for centuries. The customer must be the focus, from preliminary planning to close, and by blending a technology platform with a human relationship, a balance can be achieved that creates a great and enduring customer experience.

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