- What is the meaning of sales and how does it differ from marketing?
- How can your business sell effectively?
- Different sales techniques / Funnels
- Using CRM for effective selling
- Benefits of sales CRM
- Choosing a sales CRM for your business
Selling forms the heart and soul of any business.
Sales, as we know it today, depends on many factors and activities and it is time sensitive.
A study by McKinsey shows that post pandemic almost 80% of B2B decision makers prefer the digital approach of going through the sales cycle or prefer to self-serve themselves digitally through websites and social media.
A sale happens when you identify and provide a tangible solution to your customer’s problem.
Every company or organisation has a sales team to creatively sell its product or service. Sales representatives reach out to prospects and convince them to buy their company’s products or services.
Let’s dive in.
What is the meaning of sales and how does it differ from marketing?
The functions of the sales and marketing team in an organisation overlap and aligns towards a particular goal of selling. It doesn’t mean that they do exactly the same activities.
A marketing team is primarily focused on attracting ideal prospects, towards the product or service that a business offers, through marketing activities such as market analysis, campaigns and other activities. Typically, a marketing team focuses on a group of people or audience to convey the brand’s strengths and how they will get benefitted.
A marketing team’s action plan includes the product, price, place, and promotion; called as 4Ps of marketing.
A sales team on the other hand focuses on qualified leads who are most likely to buy. They work directly with prospects to reinforce the tangible value of their product or service and try to convert them into customers.
A sales team’s action plan takes into account the factors such as target market, sales process, team structure and goals along with the plan, tools and resources required.
Now that you have an idea of what a sale is and how it is different from marketing activities in an organisation. Let’s understand how we characterise a sale.
How can your business sell effectively?
Selling is like building a personal relationship with someone new. When you first meet, you would try and get to know each other, eventually, learn what they like, and determine what their goals are.
Along the way, you will be able to decide if you can work together and whether you are a match. If you find that you are a match for each other, the relationship can proceed and grow.
Similarly, the sales process or sales cycle is the method your company follows to sell your product or service to customers involving a series of steps, from initial contact with a highly qualified lead to the final sale.
The 7-step sales process
There are 7 steps to a successful sales process.
- Present your USPs or Offers
- Remove friction
- Close the deal
The first step is to research and prospect your ideal customers for the product or service that you have to offer. This step involves three phases like
- What’s your ideal customer profile (ICP)? To make your messaging around your product or service more personalised, the first step is to research and build your ideal customer profile a.k.a. ICP. The fictional client characteristics to be kept in mind during the research are as below:
- Whom you can provide value?
- Who can provide your company with value?
- Who are your potential leads? Based on the ideal customer profile that you have framed, try to list down the people who might fit into this profile so that the sales team can start the qualification process.
- Is your ICP qualified enough? For example, If you are in B2B, First, qualify the company by researching to see if it meets the criteria that matter to you (e.g., company size, geography, industry, growth phase). Then interview the prospects to qualify them and to determine if they are a good fit as a customer. Determine if the prospect has:
- A need for your product or service
- The financial ability to purchase your offering
- The authority to make the purchasing decision
- The timing to make the purchase
After identifying your best ideal customer profiles from the previous step, reach out to contact them through your sales team. This step has two parts:
- From the data you have collected, determine the best way to contact the prospect (e.g., telephone, email, social media).
- Reach out to the prospect. Make sure you are prepared with good questions for them before making contact. Introduce yourself and work on building trust, not making a sale on the introductory call.
You have done your prior research in the first step and made contact already. It is when you make a personal contact you will understand if they are an ideal customer for the company.
For you to qualify the prospect, you need to confirm whether they meet your criteria of a good customer. During the first contact, ask about their goals, challenges, budget and other issues that will help you to make your decision.
If you feel that they are not a good fit for you, tell the prospect why and if they are still interested in your product or service, determine why.
Always make sure that the person you are speaking with is of the best ability to make decisions on doing business with you. When speaking with the prospect, try to identify your opportunities to provide value and highlight them.
After you have the list of qualified prospects who are ready to become your customers, start nurturing them by demonstrating the relevance of your offering and how it can help solve their challenges.
This process typically involves answering questions about your unique offer, the benefits you provide, and the problems you solve for your prospects.
When nurturing your prospect and learning about their needs, you have to put into consideration the following:
- Channelising the prospect based on various stages of their awareness
- Unaware: The person does not know they have a problem that you can solve.
- Problem aware / pain aware: The prospect knows that they have a problem but is not aware of a solution that exists.
- Solution aware: The person knows there is a solution but does not know about your product and how it may help them.
- Product aware: The person knows about your product but does not know if it can solve their challenges.
- Most aware: The person knows a lot about your product but needs to know about its benefits before deciding to buy.
- Educating the prospect about your product and/or service or industry trends as a whole.
- Personalise your communications to suit the prospect.
- Responding to common challenges that most of your prospects face.
- Building your reputation with the prospect that you are helpful, responsible and reliable in your area of expertise you claim.
Some prospects may be both interested in your offer and qualified, but they might not be ready or able to become your customer at this time. To them, stay in touch going forward and demonstrate your ability to help. This will help to keep you on top of their mind when they are ready to buy.
5. Present your USPs or Offers
Based on your conversation with your prospects and the information that you have collected, offer a personalised and relevant deal that suits your prospect’s needs as per their challenges, requirements and budget.
While the context of your offer is very important, how you present the offer can be the difference between success and failure. Consider your audience and the situation when deciding how to present your offer in the best way possible.
6. Remove friction
You’ve made the best possible offer that is personalised to solve their challenges and now it’s up to the prospect to make their decision. The most common response is some type of objection to your offer, such as:
- Price (e.g., too expensive for the value provided)
- Risk (e.g., too “dangerous” to switch to a new solution)
- Content of offer (e.g., offer does not provide enough detail)
- Contract terms (e.g., the term is too long)
Ideally, you addressed the common objections during the nurturing phase or when creating the offer. However, you cannot always address every objection before the prospect makes it.
To overcome or address objections:
- Be patient and measured in your response. Do not rush or pressure the prospect to move forward.
- Address objections that are related to each other. For example, if the prospect questions the value against the price, go over everything you’ve included in the offer to show how the value you provide exceeds the price they have to pay.
- When you have explained your reasoning, ask the prospect if you have properly addressed their objection.
- Ask more questions to determine the real reasons behind each objection. Listen carefully to the answers before responding.
7. Close the deal
Once you have overcome all objections, you can close the deal to make the sale.
First, work on sealing the deal. The goal is to confirm the prospect’s engagement and work toward the next steps. The key is to make it easier for the prospect to say yes to the deal.
To close the deal:
- Ask a direct question or make a direct statement (e.g., “Would you like to sign the deal now?”).
- Ask an indirect question (e.g., “Are you satisfied with what is included in the offer?”).
- Provide an incentive to close the deal (e.g., add a sign-up bonus).
- Offer a free trial period (e.g., “Try it for one week”).
- Emphasise the urgency or scarcity of the offer (e.g., “This is a limited-time offer”).
- Ask what else the prospect requires to make a decision.
When the prospect has committed to the purchase, answer any additional questions they have and give them details on the next steps. Provide a written agreement and summary of the conversation so that their supervisor or other stakeholders can review it for accuracy.
If the prospect still responds with “not yet” or “not now” for reasons beyond your control (or theirs), then return the prospect to the nurturing stage. Stay in touch and follow up with prospects who are not ready to purchase.
Learn about the 5 ways that a CRM can help boost your sales team’s performance by accessing our handbook.
Different sales techniques / Funnels
A well thought out sales funnel to meet the needs of your potential customers will help you build trust, connections, and conversations with your customers, which will ultimately result in more sales and customer loyalty.
As per the 7-step sales process that we discussed earlier, sales funnels are as varied as your customers. Some of your prospects may choose to purchase instantly and some may take weeks or even months to decide.
Some prospects need many “touches”: sales calls, sales emails, video webinars, and blog articles for them to trust and understand your business.
To identify funnel types, you need to identify the challenges that you are facing to reach your ideal prospects. Some of the common challenges are as below
- Getting leads through organic reach on search engines – with the help of blog posts and social media for example.
- Getting leads from paid channels such as Google Ads and social media ads among others.
- Booking sales calls with your prospects that show interest.
- Conducting webinars and online sales event rooms.
- Getting reviews from existing and previous customers.
- Identifying payment patterns of existing customers.
- Identifying what causes customers to leave and when.
Based on the questions above, you can create a flow to take your prospects from the introduction to the closing stage by utilising various resources that you might have such as the website, social media, email, phone calls, webinars, and a lot more.
There are many possibilities for creating a unique funnel for every customer profile that you have. We have covered sales funnels for you to read in one of our earlier articles.
Fine-tune your best sales techniques
If the strategy is the skeleton of a solid sales plan, the techniques are the muscles that make the rest move with energy.
There are many techniques, from psychological to sales automation, but as in any discipline, the ideal is to start with the basics.
The main ones are:
- Unique sales proposal.
- Sales arguments.
- Pricing strategy.
1. Unique sales proposal
The Unique Selling Preposition (USP) is one of the most effective and misunderstood marketing techniques available.
Contrary to what is usually done, the idea behind a unique selling proposition is to find a single reason why your product is the best solution for a particular potential customer and make all the messages revolve around it.
Apple or Nike are typical examples of having made such intensive use of their unique selling proposition that they turned it into their company’s claim in the end.
2. Sales arguments
It is a standardised speech that each salesperson uses when making a call or having a contact with a client.
The great advantage of using the same sales pitch is that it allows you to improve your messages little by little, thus improving the overall effectiveness of your speech.
Every salesperson should have a sales pitch and work on improving it.
3. Pricing strategy
Selling price may seem more of a product department than a sales department, but this is only half the truth.
Why is that? Simply because in many cases, the price is the best (or even the only) indication of value and quality we have of a product.
If you don’t know the market, which smartphone do you think will be of better quality, a 300€ or a 700€ one?
This is so evident in physical products, it also applies to digital products or services, so you should keep an eye on this area of the business from the sales department as well.
To find out how to grow your business even further, download this free ebook now!
Using CRM for effective selling
According to a study by Sales Insights Lab, most salespeople aren’t getting in front of enough prospects to close more sales. You may ask why?
It is because salespeople are stuck in the grind of organising and retrieving their information about the lead(s) and end up spending less time talking to the prospects.
What’s the ideal solution for this? We at Efficy have come up with a guide to growing your business with a CRM.
When we speak of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, stakeholders do not fully understand that a CRM makes it easier to handle the whole selling process and keep in touch with the best contacts.
CRM systems also help improve your sales cycle dramatically when the purpose-built sales CRM is well-used to its fullest abilities.
Once you have your CRM of choice, make sure to do the following that will make your sales process in your organisation more efficient.
1. Add your salespeople
The sooner you can get all the sales reps on your team using your CRM, the more comprehensive, useful and accurate your data will be.
Make sure that you’ve explained the value of a CRM to all of the stakeholders in your organisation, particularly on how it will help your salespeople bring in more business.
That’s why the very first logical step in a CRM implementation should be adding users. If your representatives across teams aren’t aware of the uses of the CRM, adoption will be extremely low.
2. Customise your settings
As we have already discussed an ideal sales cycle, and the 7 stages associated with it, it should be easy to define yours and make necessary changes to the sales management software so that you can visualise your prospects’ journey at any time.
3. Import your contact, companies, and deals
You may probably be using a different CRM or a spreadsheet to keep track of your prospects and opportunities across various departments and the data might be in silos.
Most CRM software would let you bring in your old data through multiple ways like uploading a .csv file or connecting to your old CRM.
When you are uploading a .csv file, make sure to attribute the columns in your spreadsheet properly so that the sales system can understand it.
4. Integrate Communications
Communication is the key when it comes to effective selling. When you are onboarding a sales CRM, look for ways to integrate your email communications with your prospects into it. Most CRMs will have the ability to connect to your email service provider.
Doing so will help you gain enhanced knowledge about your prospect’s journey through your sales funnel.
5. Setup your dashboard
A CRM dashboard will be handy to quickly see all your team’s performance and where you stand against your long-term goals in a single and unified place.
Based on your long-term and short-term objectives, choose which statistics appear on your dashboard. For instance, if your team is tasked to sell more of X products, you might want to see a complete breakdown of product X’s sales.
6. Enable reporting
As a sales team, you would need to spend most of your time selling and not in the dashboards looking for information about your leads.
Every CRM will have the ability to generate reports and send them to all the stakeholders at a given frequency. Dig into your CRM’s settings panel and set up your reports to highlight the KPIs you are trying to achieve as a team and as an individual.
Benefits of using a bespoke sales CRM
The grind salespeople face is that they might feel a bit overwhelmed to keep track of their leads and their current stage in the funnel. This makes sales reps spend more time finding the information about a prospect before contacting them.
Here’s how a sales CRM can help you be organised and close more sales:
1. Improve productivity of sales reps
A typical sales executive spends more time finding the information about the prospect than actually spending time interacting with them. This is due to the traditional method of storing data in silos (think of spreadsheets and sticky notes).
By following the traditional data capturing methods, the efficiency of the team as a whole is at stake. When a representative has to keep track of multiple leads simultaneously, they are forced to spend time organising their calendar daily and preparing the questions and answers for the interaction that they have ahead.
With the help of a sales CRM, your team will have all the necessary information about a prospect they are about to talk to just as they need and they do not have to dig into data silos as the CRM will notify the team member on time and have all the information he needs in his dashboard.
Learn how Efficy CRM can help your sales team. Book a demo with our experts to experience it for yourself.
2. Close more deals
According to a study by the National Association of Sales Professionals, 80% of sales are made after contacting the lead at least 5 times. And, because of the lack of proper follow-ups from the sales team, many businesses lose their prospects.
When you solve the major hurdle of your sales team by introducing a sales focused CRM, the CRM will take care of processing, storing and retrieving the information about the prospects as and when needed and most importantly a CRM will help your team to follow up with the prospects without fail.
This leads to building trust in your brand and eventually the rate of selling increases.
3. Automate processes
CRMs are software that can learn and replicate standardised processes across your entire sales team.
When you have proper systems and standards in place for each team in your organisation, integrating a CRM and automating mundane tasks carried out by personnel can result in the growth of sales along with the performance of your team growing exponentially.
4. Create meaningful reports
The fruit of using a CRM is seen only when you are able to successfully measure all your KPIs that you weren’t able to measure previously.
Having an understanding of your actual performance numbers and using the available data to further improve your processes will result in more tangible results for your business management.
With just a few clicks, you can set up reporting for your sales team as a whole or for the individuals. The best part is this report shall be automated and will be sent straight to your mailbox at a set frequency, say weekly or monthly.
Btw, try now for free: Sales course for large companies
Choosing a sales CRM for your business
We have covered a list of important characteristics to look for in a CRM in our article titled “What is a CRM? Learn how a CRM helps boost your business”. When it comes to a sales CRM, the following are the ideal characters you should look for in addition to the ones in our earlier article.
1. Dedicated sales dashboard
A sales KPI dashboard with metrics will help to easily notice and identify the trends. This feature will also be useful for the cross-functional teams to quickly glance through the metrics when in a meeting.
2. Ability to manage multiple sales pipelines
Managing leads with a pipeline is effective as you can segment your leads based on their position in the sales funnel and see them qualify from one stage to another and eventually become a paying customer.
When hunting for CRM software that will also be able to handle your sales pipeline, look for features like tagging and filtering.
3. 360° customer profile
It is often the case that you might have the need to store multiple contacts under one company while also having a private client profile for each of these contacts.
To have a complete overview of the activities of every single lead or customer, choose a CRM that lets you create both company and customer profiles and track them.
4. Lead source tracking
Sales teams often struggle to track and attribute the source of their leads and then end up having empty sales pipelines.
By having the ability to track the source of your leads in the CRM, you will be able to clearly understand how your leads or customers found your company for the first time and then lets you target them with highly personalised sales pitches.
5. Shared team calendar
An integrated and shared calendar for your sales team will help effectively manage events, meetings and resources for your team and whom your team is going to meet at a given point in time.
Features like meeting scheduling within your internal sales teams would be a lot easier to avoid multiple email correspondences.
6. Task management
Pipeline management is effective when you can assign and manage your tasks within the same system. This is a most useful feature that lets you have a quick overview of what’s happening and set realistic deadlines.
7. Analytics and Reporting
Having the ability to monitor and build detailed reports for sales performance and being able to compare them with your KPIs and goals will give you the confidence to make calculated decisions backed by data.
A typical CRM should include an essential reporting ability if not extensive.
8. Sales forecasting
Instead of relying on your instinct and allocating resources for plans based on that, it would be helpful if your CRM can use your existing customer data and predict how your sales for the next month or the quarter would be.
This would let you set realistic expectations and benchmarks and allocate enough resources to achieve your goals.
If your sales team is tasked with managing thousands of leads without the help of a CRM and doing things the ancient way, you are building data silos that are underutilised.
Book a demo with our experts to experience for yourself how Efficy’s sales system can transform the way you manage your sales cycles and fill your sales pipeline with highly qualified leads.
Find out how Efficy is the best option for your business!
Learn more about:
Scale-Up Your Business With Better Lead Management
With a Sales CRM you will improve your results
What are the best techniques for concluding deals?
Competitive advantage: how to apply it according to your business
What is the Customer Acquisition Cost and how to calculate it?
9 simple and effective strategies to sell more
28 topics for sales emails that encourage your prospects