What’s Wrong With Your Sales Process?

By the small business content developers at  BizLaunch.com.

The sales process is a tricky thing. It can be a bit like a Rube Goldberg machine with complicated moving pieces; it can flow along smoothly and then veer out of control like a car on a icy road, or it may even take substantial effort to start and then run smoothly like a push-start vehicle.

In skillful hands, the sales process brings together the disciplines of marketing and sales, so that your company's marketing efforts drive prospects to become customers in the same way that cowboys drive cattle to market. The ideal sales process functions a bit like a funnel: wide at the top and tapering to a narrower opening at the bottom.

Continuing with this metaphor, visualize the mouth of the funnel where you’ll find actions that build brand awareness but are not directly related to products or services. These elements might include ebooks, advertorials, promotional materials, guest posts, or even contests.

In the middle of the funnel you’ll find components that educate and introduce your products or services. Materials like catalogs, product fact sheets, blog posts, or webinars all educate customers about how your products or services solve problems they may have.

At the bottom of the funnel, you’ll find measures that encourage the prospect to take an action to become a customer. This is when your customer makes an appointment for a demonstration or a consultation, or even puts items in her shopping cart.

So where can you find common sticking points in the sales process? Here are a few:

  • Neglecting brand awareness.

What are you doing to connect with your audience? If your target market is global and you’re spending time on fliers and marketing materials that need to be mailed, you’re putting energy into activities that do not have a high return on investment. On the other hand if your market is based on geographic location and you only put effort into local ads and sign spinners and think that a website is unnecessary, you are missing a significant resource of recognition.

There are many marketing tactics like blogging, social media, and advertising that work for almost any type of business and help potential customers find your company. Overlook them at your own risk.

  • Misunderstanding your target market.

If you find yourself garnering quite a bit of traffic to your website, phone calls to the office, and requests for information that infrequently result in a sale, you might be good at getting your message out into the world, but not as good at getting it into the right hands.

A solution for this quandary is to develop detailed buyer personas that clearly delineate the characteristics of those prospects who will become buyers. It is still effective to widely spread your message, but you may need to take different actions in order to cultivate the right customers.

  • Ignoring prospective customers.

Do you have a hard time responding to queries in a timely manner? Is your website missing an FAQ page or has one that hasn’t been updated in years? Can customers find the resources they need to move deeper into your sales funnel?

Make sure that you are nurturing customers that are likely to make a purchase. Your thorough market research will reveal who is likely to fit this mold. The next important step is to communicate with them frequently. Email newsletters, online videos, and special offers will help these prospects move closer to buying.

  • Losing all-but-done sales.  

It can be discouraging. You’ve nurtured the interaction and your prospect is ready to sign on the dotted line and then disappears or the customer abandons her cart in the checkout process and you’re left wondering what went wrong.

This is the time to reach out one last time and ask “What happened?” You may not like the answers, but at least you’ll know where the snags are in your sales process, which will help you revitalize and reimagine it.

Once you’re aware of the potential pitfalls, you can use this information to develop new responses and pitches for your sales funnel that discourage disappointing outcomes.

By Andrew Patricio

July 27, 2016