Whether you are a start-up or a SBE (Small Business Enterprise), mapping a clearly defined sales process makes for a competitive advantage and identifies the drivers of costs in your sales processes. Once you have successfully mapped out your sales process, you will know how to make the sales process shorter and significantly more cost-effective.
In our most recent post “Listen To Your Customer … And Increase Your Revenue” on September 8, 2017, we spoke on calculating the lifetime Value of the customer. Now let’s take a look at Mapping The Sales Process that will bring that customer into your business.
Sales Processes Evolve Over Time
The sales process necessary to reach and close your customers at start-up requires much more focus and investment of resources than the same process does once your business ins mature and poised for exponential growth and/or scale.
There are typically three segments of time that you would want to consider in order to be successful in generating sales revenue. Although the methodology and combinations of methodologies will vary, the primary focus is the same.
- Short Term Sales: In the short-term timeline, the primary focus of the sales process is to properly engage potential customer at the right stage in the “Buyers Journey”. Whether that be at the Awareness, Consideration, or Decision Stage, your sales process should create demand for your product or service. Your marketing campaigns being customer-centric means that you have created a product or service the customer wants and needs, your product or service is relevant to your customer and/or market segment; therefore you will need direct interaction with the customer in the space that is most utilized by the customer to explain why your product or service is unique and relevant to their needs or wants. Otherwise, you are obscure and unknown to the marketplace. The most important reason to be in constant and direct contact with your potential customer segment is so that you can quickly iterate to improve the product and/or service offering based upon customer feedback, which is more difficult if you funnel sales through third parties such as intermediaries or distributors. This is the infant sales stage and it will come to a close once you start to see demand for your product or service that you did not generate through your own sales processes.
- Direct Sales Team – often referred to as “Business Development” team – traditionally a wise and effective sales approach at start-up. However, they are costly and they require time and training to generate revenue effectively. The “Pareto Principle” is always in play, that 20% of your sales professionals will generate 80% of your sales revenue. The remaining 80% will generate a mere 20% of your revenue, as well as consuming a lot of time, energy and resources in training and re-training the sales team churn. Top sales talent is hard to retain, and identifying “rainmakers” versus the mediocre is hard to do while in start-up phase. Do your best to hire the top talent, pay them well at the start-up stage, not just at later stages when the company is starting to mature. Despite these challenges, a strong sales team is the only option you have when it comes to ensuring that the business does not run out of cash.
- IoT (Internet Of Things) or Web 2.0 techniques, such as inbound marketing (Smith Gruppe is a Certified Inbound Marketing Firm), e-mail, social media marketing, and telesales can help lessen the burden of sales training and the expense of a sales team, especially at the start-up stage. Many products and/or services, particularly web apps, do extremely well with a free trial and well documented testimonials and high nPS (Net Promoter Scores) rather than the costs of a sales team. The greatest reward of this tool is that you can get extensive analytics on your customer segment through Facebook, Linked In, Google Analytics and other IoT type tools on your customer that are just not possible through the human sales channel.
- Medium Term Sales: At this point in time, the focus of the sales mapping process moves from demand creation to the fulfillment of committed products and/or services as a word of mouth and the sales and distribution channels start to take on the burden of demand creation. You will know own the accountability and responsibility of customer relations, client management, and product and service support, which is paramount when it comes to customer retention and the ability to create additional sales opportunities.
Suppliers, Sales Channel Distributors as well as Re-Sellers are often used to serve markets outside of your initial customer and/or market segment, or smaller customers segments with a lower LTV (Life-Time Value). This way, your direct sales team (who can tend to be more costly) can focus on the larger customer segment with higher LTV (Life-Time Value). Sales Channels, Distributors, and Re-Sellers ultimately lowers your Cost of Customer Acquisition (COCA); which we will cover in our next blog post.
- Long Term Sales: Your direct sales team will focus on sales and product and/or service fulfillment. Once you have a mature business case, usually starting at year 3; your business will do very little demand creation, and will mature in customer relations, client management, product and service support. IoT, In-Bound Marketing, and telesales channels are beefed up when deploying long-term strategies. The business will make adjustments over time as the competitive landscape adjusts, which will affect the businesses ability to get to the long-term stage and what to do to maintain its market position and ultimately its competitive advantage.
Sales Process Map
In order to develop a short-term, medium-term, and long-term sales strategy, the business must understand which of the over 133 marketing/sales channels it will use and how the use of the marketing/sales channels will change over time. You can identify trends and the aligning KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) specific to your industry as benchmarks.
The key to any degree of success is asking and addressing the right questions that your sales process is designed to address, and they are as follows:
- How does your “Buyer Persona” and/or Customer Segment become aware that they have a problem and/or opportunity?
- How will the “Buyer Persona” and/or Customer Segment learn that your product and/or service is the solution to their problem, or learn there is an opportunity that they were not previously aware of?
- Upon your “Buyer Persona” and/or Customer Segment learning about your business (i.e. product or service), what is the education process by which they will become well-informed of your product and/or service; and thus analyze and make an educated decision to buy your product or service?
- How do you close the sale?
- How do you collect your money, and is the collection process mapped out in the CCC (Cash Conversion Cycle) of your business plan?
- Direct Sales From Sales Team (100%) … All “Buyer Personas” Customer Segments -Focus On Target Markets
*This process continues until your business has consistent Word Of Mouth and becomes a mature product/service that is well-respected in the marketplace.
- Direct Sales From Sales Team (50%) … Largest “Buy Personas” and Customer Segments
- Suppliers, Sales Channel Distributors, Re-Sellers (50%) … Medium “Buyer Personas” and Customer Segments ; Low LTV (Life-Time Value)
*This process eventually evolves into a laser-focused intentional e-commerce platform as the product/service becomes the marquee product/service that can be expanded into new market segments.
- Direct Sales From Sales Team (25%) … Largest “Buyer Personas” and Customer Segments and New Markets
- Suppliers, Sales Channel Distributors, Re-Sellers (40%) … Medium “Buyer Personas” and Customer Segments ; Low LTV (Life-Time Value) and Non- Core Markets
- IoT, Inbound Marketing, Web 2.0 and Telesales (35%) … All “Buyer Personas” and Customer Segments in the Core Market with shared revenue and commissions going to Suppliers, Sales Channel Distributors, and Re-Sellers
Once you have gone through the necessary iterations of mapping your sales process, be sure to vet it with the experienced trusted advisors at Smith Gruppe.
Smith Gruppe has decades of experience across multiple industries, whether in a B2B or a B2C environment; and have helped many a client evolve from traditional to highly advanced and complex sales strategies. Call us today at 980-221-9377 or visit us at the “Our Services” page at http://www.smithgruppe.com. We would be more than happy to help!