The most common sales-related problems that snow contractors face usually resemble the following:
- “We’re frustrated by the low volume of sales being made and want more business.”
- “We’re upset that sales close so late in the year and we can’t plan our operations.”
- “We’re angry that prospects waste so much time in the sales process that could be spent on other activities.”
- “We’re disappointed that the sales we make are based on being the low price.”
Though these problems may seem unrelated on the surface, in reality they are all symptoms of the same problem. Unless a systematic sales process is being followed, the ideal sales result cannot be achieved.
Sales is commonly described as an art form because of the flowery words that are used to woo clients, the seemingly unpredictable nature of sales calls, and the lack of repeatable results between sales people. This is a flawed theory — sales is absolutely a science. A seasoned sales professional who has invested the time and effort to understand their craft can accurately predict how a situation will unfold time and time again. By monitoring, measuring and improving each aspect of the sales process, a reproducible result can be achieved.
Start with perfection
The ideal sales process can look different for every company based on target market, prospecting methods, complexity of sale, or even personality of sales people. As a result, the best way to create a sales process is not to look at what others are doing but instead describe the best sale ever made by the company. If remembering the best sale ever is too difficult, try describing the ideal sale.
Start with how the prospect would be identified. What specific characteristics do they exhibit? How were they introduced to the company? Next, what is the qualification process they must complete to do business? What type of budget, needs, and requirements must they have to be a good fit? How is that information extracted?
Moving deeper in the process, what is the next step toward completing a sale? How do customer assessments, education, and quoting play a role? How long does each step take and in what format are they completed?
Answering these questions is necessary for starting with a baseline, or sticking with the scientific method, forming the hypothesis of the perfect sale. Once an ideal sales process is documented, it can be tested.
In order to perfect the sales process, you must experiment with it and alter it as needed. Using a written plan, track sales activities through real sales efforts and match up how well the process was followed. Next, look at how well it worked. If a sale was won, dissect what happened and try to model the sales process toward those actions. If a sale was lost, do the same, but identify the pitfalls in the process.
Once the process is relatively proven, dive deeper and become more fine-grained with the experimentation. If cold calling is part of the process, experiment with how many times to call a prospect and when. If education is part of the process, try varying lengths of presentations, utilizing different methods of teaching or changing the amount of interaction.
Track and improve
Through every “experiment,” it is paramount to track the outcome. It will be impossible to improve without understanding which actions cause which reactions. However, when the results are clear, the sales process can be refined and improved into a guide that any sales rep in any situation can follow.
Imagine knowing exactly how many calls would lead to an appointment, how many appointments would lead to a quote, and how many quotes would lead to a sale. Consider how much more powerful decision making can become if sales people could accurately predict how long it will take sales to close. By following a scientific process, it is not only possible but also achievable.
The key to deriving the most value from a clear sales process is to never stop improving. Every shift in the market, every new demographic, and every unique salesperson will influence the results of even a very proven process. By continuously experimenting, tracking, and improving, the process can remain effective as it evolves.
The science of sales is hard work that never ends. Many people will prefer to simply hope they can effectively produce through the art of sales. It’s possible they’ll be successful, but hoping for sales isn’t a sound method for building a business. Build a process and the results will follow.
- Creating a scientific sales process requires you to identify ideal prospects and qualify them so they fit your vision.
- Document the process and you’ll begin to outline what sales tactics work. Once you can establish benchmarks, you can track results and alter your processes as needed.
- Look at both your sales successes as well as failures when building your plan.
Neal Glatt, CSP, ASM, is account executive for Case Snow Management. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.