Companies today are facing increasingly difficult challenges, stiffer competition and more demanding customer needs in a way unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. As such, investing in, implementing, and relying on a solid sales process can be the difference between leading the market or watching your competitors pass you by. Let’s walk through the importance of sales process, define its relevance to both the vendor and customer, and outline many of the steps involved thus ensuring mutual success.
In this series of four short posts, I’ll look to highlight the phases of a good sales process and discuss what we do at Artemis. I’ll touch on: the sales process defined, discovery, presentation, and the final phase – selection, negotiation, and closing. If you want to learn more, I’d love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In short, discovery is an opportunity for both prospective customer and sales representative to learn more about each other. There should be expectations set in the initial portion of the call and the focus should be on the customer. I say this because it is the customer who has the need or challenge that must be solved. It is the customer that knows their current processes and personnel. It is the customer that knows what they will be prioritizing for the upcoming year and it is the customer that knows their operation best. A great sales rep will spend much of this time listening, learning, and assessing fit. A critical portion of the “discovery” is to ensure all facets of the customer’s challenges and needs are defined and confirmation from both sides that nothing has been missed. This is typically accomplished with a confirmatory recap at the end of a conversation.
Discovery calls should allow the sale representative to learn all that is necessary to assess fit. It is not for the rep to determine how he or she will win a deal. When I engage with prospective customers, one of the things we at Artemis almost always bring to light is that we are trying to see if what you need solving can be done with our solution, or not. If you need surfboards and we have surfboards, we can advance. If you need surfboards and we have bicycles, it is our responsibility at that point to inform you as such and effectively end the process at that point. It is an unfortunate, yet known experience; when you try to force a square peg into a round hole, the outcome is one of failure or patchwork. Fit is critical for any sales process as it dictates where those offering a solution will spend their time. For the customer, fit ensures project success. Projects can be tweaked and refined, this is normal and healthy, however, if everything is custom and done so in a way that is far outside the “standard” for your vendor, most likely, what is “promised” to you won’t come to fruition in the manner you expect it to and there will be delays that will extend your time to value significantly.
In our next post, we’ll dig into the presentation phase.