“How do I build the perfect sales cycle or the perfect sales process?” I’m often asked this question and my answer tends to disappoint those who are looking for quick answers to challenging problems.
There is no such thing as a perfect sales cycle, or a perfect sales process that you can either build or replicate and unleash on your entire market.
Sorry, but that’s the truth.
To assume otherwise is akin to treating sales no differently from any mass-produced product, assembled the same way for every customer as quickly as possible to solve a very short list of problems that your customer has.
That sounds a lot like how fast food is made and sold, doesn’t it? Unless you’re in that line of work (hey, no judging here, really), you need to stop and look carefully at your product or service and to whom you are selling.
Do the work and the truth will be revealed.
You’ll see that every sale is different. Every market is different. And every product or service you make is different. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that your sales cycle and sales process needs to reflect these facts and be flexible to meet the needs of each sale.
Here are three steps you can implement today to better meet the unique needs of every customer or prospect.
1. Address the needs of your new customers.
My research shows that many organizations overlook how they sell to new customers and instead treat them like every other client. That’s a big mistake. Selling today is more relationship-based than ever before. Each time you land a new customer, you’re establishing a new relationship, so it’s smart to treat the sales process here a little differently from others. From a net new lead that comes into your organization—whether you found that lead, or the lead found you—through marketing programs, you ought to have a process for quickly transforming each one into a loyal customer.
2. Address the need of your existing customers.
Your existing, well-established customers have different needs from your newer customers, so your sales process should reflect this fact. If you sell multiple products to an existing customer, consider having a unique process. Similarly, if you have a customer who regularly provides you with great new referrals, examine how your selling process can acknowledge that fact and encourage more of that practice.
3. Invest in account management.
I’m constantly surprised now many companies overlook the importance of having an account management process. Every one of your customers has a total lifetime value that you need to maximize, and many companies forget that you have to manage and nurture client relationships to maximize that total lifetime value.
Your account management should be flexible to meet the unique total value of every sale. What this means is if you sell one product to a company that can be renewed over time, or one product to a company that they pay for once and continue to use for a lifetime, or you sell 300 products to one company, you should have a process for each, developed carefully to maximize the value.
When you undertake all three of the steps I’ve outlined for you, your organization can accelerate revenue and profit. Remember that most companies see the greatest amount of profit from the second, third, fourth, and fifth sales to an existing customer.
If you’re not developing a well-oiled process to maximize the unique needs to every customer and every sale, you risk leaving a large amount of money on the table.