Sales Process Biz Paper

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How a Sales Process Can Drive Revenue for Your Small Business It is no secret that small businesses today are facing greater competition at the same time that their customers are becoming more sophisticated and demanding. This paper focuses on one way to meet these challenges: adoption of a formalized sales process methodology tailored to the unique needs of small businesses. Why Your Business Needs a Sales Process A sales process is simply a series of customer-focused steps that enables sales
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  How a Sales Process Can Drive Revenue for Your Small Business It is no secret that small businesses today are facing greater competition at the same time thattheir customers are becoming more sophisticated and demanding. This paper focuses on oneway to meet these challenges: adoption of a formalized sales process methodology tailored to theunique needs of small businesses. Why Your Business Needs a Sales Process A sales process is simply a series of customer-focused steps that enables sales professionals tosubstantively increase win rates, build customer retention, and increase revenue production.Each step consists of several key activities and has a predictable, measurable outcome.Microsoft® has worked closely with  Sales Performance International ,aleader in sales process consulting, on a sales process methodologyspecifically for small businesses based on SPI’s proven Solution Selling®methodology. The implementation, adoption, and tracking of thismethodology is tightly integrated with Microsoft Office Outlook® 2003 withBusiness Contact Manager    – an add-in for Outlook 2003 that enables smallbusinesses to easily and effectively manage customers within the familiar Outlook environment.You may be asking, “Why does my organization need a more formalizedsales process?” First of all, look at your own customers. Are they becomingmore demanding? Do they have more options to choose from to meet their needs? Are theybecoming more sophisticated in how they analyze these alternatives before making a decision? Isit becoming more challenging for your business to attract and retain customers? Microsoft’sresearch shows that for most small businesses, the answers to these questions are a resounding“Yes!”Now look internally. Does your sales force sometimes react sluggishly whenopportunities arise? Do your salespeople have trouble projecting aconsistent, professional image? Do promising customer commitments toooften fall through the cracks? Do negotiations go awry at the last minute,resulting in a bad deal – or no deal at all? Is your customer data out-of-dateand dispersed in silos across the company? Are you tired of technologicalsolutions that are so complicated they never get used? Microsoft researchshows that the answers to these questions tend to be “Yes” as well.A well-defined sales process is no panacea, but one that is implementedusing Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager can help your salesforce: ã Identify and qualify leads. ã Find more opportunities for repeat business among your existingcustomers. ã More consistently position the unique value that your company candeliver versus the competition. ã Discover your customers’ true “pain points” and map these needs toyour products or services. ã Identify and deliver convincing proof that your products can meet those needs.Page 1    A great sales process canhelp your sales forcesucceed. Its benefitsinclude: ã Definable steps. A sales process helps you identify best practices for working through salesopportunities. Randomacts produce randomresults. ã Predictable outcomes.  A sales process helpsyou see which steps will bring a sales opportunity to closure. ã Repeatable activities. Asales process helps you replicate your successesand avoid your failures. ã Measurable results. Asales process helps you  Sales PerformanceInternational  Since 1988 SPI has helped more than 500,000 salesand sales management  professionals worldwidewith its revolutionary Solution Selling sales process. On average, their clients have seen activeopportunities in their sales pipelines increase by 20%within six months.  ã Better assess the revenue potential for a given customer – and be able to viewconsolidated information for all customers in your sales pipeline. ã Negotiate and close more sales. ã Build stronger relationships with customers and business partners. ã Put a follow-up process in place after the sale that helps drive customer satisfaction –and generates repeat business and referrals. What Is a Sales Process? As mentioned above, a sales process is simply a series of steps that enableyour sales force – whether that’s a single sales professional or a small teamheaded up by a sales manager – to close more sales and generate morerepeat business.Every business has unique needs. We have created three versions of our sales process based on different customer buying processes: ã One for small businesses selling to medium or large companies   ã One for small businesses selling to other  small businesses   ã One for small businesses selling to consumers  All customers go through five basic steps in the Customer Buying Process. Obviously someonewho is thinking about purchasing a candy bar at the check-out stand at their local grocery movesthrough the steps much more rapidly than a plant manager considering upgrading his drillpresses. Nevertheless, the fundamentals of each stage are very similar. ã Step 1: Identify needs. Business owners look for ways to improve revenues and marketshare, to lower costs, and to improve operating efficiencies. Consumers look for ways toimprove their standard of living or their overall satisfaction. ã Step 2: Determine requirements. The customer’s goal in this step is to clearly identifyall the aspects of the problem or opportunity they are trying to solve and to specify therequirements for a solution. ã Step 3: Evaluate options. The customer solicits proposals and seeks out proof that thepotential vendors can meet the stated requirements. ã Step 4: Negotiate. The customer now has a clear understanding of the options availableand begins negotiations to acquire the product or service. Price is one consideration, butnegotiating considerations include the cost of change and the risk that the solution willnot meet their needs. ã Step 5: Implement and evaluate success. The product or service is implemented andthe customer begins the process of judging whether it truly meets the stated needs.Page 2   NegotiateEvaluateoptionsDeterminerequirementsIdentifyneeds Different ways to learnabout sales process 1.Business paper (here) 2. Flowcharts – for avisual representation 3. Reference story  –example of how afictitious company implements the process Implement &evaluatesuccess CUSTOMER BUYING PROCESS STEPS  Five steps define the sales process methodology. Each step is made up of several key activitieswith predictable, measurable outcomes. The steps help small business sales professionalssucceed by: (1) Focusing on a total understanding of critical business issues faced by customers. (2) Developing potential value to be gained by customers. (3) Creating a strong desire in the customer to buy products and services suppliedby your company. Step 1: Prospecting. At this first stage of the sales process, the salesperson is generatingqualified leads, finding new opportunities among the existing customer base, and differentiatinghis or her company versus the competition. Depending on the type of business, prospecting cantake many forms including networking, seminars, marketing, trade shows, and cold calls. Thepurpose of this step is to identify a qualified decision maker, or an ally in the organization who canhelp you reach the decision maker.Microsoft Office Small Business Edition 2003 provides your company with many tools to help youreach this goal. Are you frustrated by the time and expense of using a designer to create your marketing materials – or doing them in-house and ending up with a direct mail piece that makesyour company look unprofessional? Microsoft Office Publisher 2003  enables you to createcustomized, professional looking marketing materials in-house to drive your prospecting efforts. Business Contact Manager   then helps you manage all of your customer information within thefamiliar Outlook environment, so there is little or no training downtime for your sales force. Andwe have created more than a dozen downloadable “job aids” – such as the BusinessDevelopment Prompter, three brief, targeted scripts used to stimulate interest when making coldcalls – that plug right into your Office programs and help with the adoption of the sales process. Step 2: Qualifying. In this stage you and the customer are sizing each other up. You areassessing the revenue potential and costs associated with a customer opportunity to decide if it’sworth pursuing further, while the customer is assessing whether your company can meet their needs. In this stage of the process, your sales professionals need to be adept at probing tounearth the customer’s true needs, in detail. Then they need a way to clearly articulate a “buyingvision” to the customer – capabilities that illustrate how your company’s products or services canuniquely meet their needs. The goal of this step is to convince the decision maker to move aheadwith an in-depth evaluation of your solution.Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager gives you increased insight into your business,whether you are a sales professional or a small business owner. A sales professional can quicklyassess a customer opportunity by attaching pricing information to the opportunity and assigning aprobability of closing the sale. The business owner can take a broader perspective and run one of the twenty customizable reports in Business Contact Manager to view the entire sales pipelinesorted by customer, product, or stage. And once again there are several downloadable “job aids”to assist with this step of the sales process, such as the Product/Service Benefit Statement,a template for your sales professionals to help their customers visualize what they can accomplishwith your company’s product or service. Step 3: Proposal. When you reach this stage the promises end and you have to demonstrate tothe decision maker that your company can really deliver the goods. You can create a mutuallyPage 3 SALES PROCESS STEPS   ProspectingQualifyingProposalDecisionRepeatbusiness  agreed uponProduct/Service Evaluation Plan   that highlights key steps to prove your capabilitiesand ensure a win for both the customer and the salesperson. The Evaluation Plan is animportant, formal lever that many salespeople overlook: once a customer agrees to theEvaluation Plan, the salesperson is in control of the sales process. In other words, the customer can only afford to go through the steps of an Evaluation Plan with one selling organizationbecause of the time, cost, and resources to perform each step. The goal of the Proposal stage isthat the value has been demonstrated – via successful completion of the Evaluation Plan – andthe customer requests that the salesperson submit a proposal.At this stage of the process the consideration set of companies narrows in the eyes of thecustomer, and responding rapidly – and professionally – is essential for the sales professional.Most small business owners wince at the thought of how many potential sales slip away when acommitment falls through the cracks or an e-mail goes unanswered. Outlook 2003 with BusinessContact Manager consolidates all of your customer interactions – e-mails, tasks, appointments,notes, and even documents – in one place so you will always have a comprehensive, up-to-datepicture of what is going on with that customer. Step 4: Decision. By now, you are so close to pushing this deal across the goal line that you canalmost taste it. But how often has your sales force fumbled the ball in the red zone? Perhaps oneof your salespeople gave too much away in the final negotiations, making the deal unprofitable.Or conversely, perhaps he or she walked away from a good sale when a low cost giveaway mighthave sealed the deal. Such is the delicate and tantalizing nature of the Decision step of the salesprocess.The desired outcome, naturally, is a successfully negotiated deal – perhaps formalized in asigned contract – that symbolizes a win-win arrangement for your company and the customer.Downloadable templates for Office can arm your salespeople with all the right negotiating levers –and avoid unwanted surprises when the contract arrives. For example, the Give-Get List for Negotiation Trade-Offsspells out things that you are willing to trade for during negotiations (e.g.,we supply 100 hours of training if the customer aggress to be a reference for my next sixprospects) and those that are off the table (e.g., no pricing discounts). Step 5: Repeat Business. A signed contract is really just the first chapter of the story. TheRepeat Business step acknowledges that it is indeed a sales  process – not a moment in timewhen a contract is signed or a sales commission is paid out. First of all, the product or servicemust be delivered and implemented as promised. A sales professional focused on a long-termprofitable relationship will take ownership and follow up with the customer to make sure thateverything is going smoothly. And at the right time, he or she will begin the Prospecting stepagain, probing the customer to see if there is an ongoing need that can be serviced with a simplereorder or, if needs have changed, the opportunity to upsell or cross-sell a new product or service. Obviously the goal of this step of the sales process is repeat business – not to mention asatisfied customer willing to be a referral for you.Staying connected with your customers is easier with Outlook 2003 with Business ContactManager. First, you can set automatic follow-up reminders in Outlook 2003. Second, the AccountView enables you to connect all contacts for a given company into one Account Record. And,finally, all of your interactions with that account are tracked within Account History. Publisher 2003 can also play a valuable role in customer retention by enabling you to quickly customizeprofessionally designed e-mail or direct mail materials that deliver tailored messages or specialoffers to your customers. The Challenges of Implementing a Sales Process Clearly, a well-defined and measurable sales process – implemented using Outlook 2003 withBusiness Contact Manager – can make a difference in your organization. But there are stillchallenges to overcome. Change is scary, and inertia is a powerful force. People like doing thingsPage 4
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