Sign & Digital Graphics

April '18

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32 • April 2018 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S RUNNING THE BUSINESS your sales force and sales organization routinely and repeatedly exhibit that will define your sales process. The conversation with your sales staff may deteriorate into recalling past fail- ures of your company, but don't allow them to dwell on shortcomings. There will be plenty of time to improve on a particular activity or event later. The goal of mapping the sales process is to achieve better planning, practice a more consis- tent sales strategy, shorten the sales cycle, and improve communications between the customer and your company. Notice these benefits are conceptually the same as when a production manager invests time and effort in physically reorganizing the workflow of the shop. Step Three: Writing the Cookbook My 85-year old Italian mother is an outstanding cook. When I was young and ready to assume the lifestyle of an adult, I asked Mom to teach me her recipe for homemade pasta and tomato sauce. Unfortunately, her instructions con- tained such phrases as "add this much Make it Your Business CONTINUED until it looks like this" and "reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce looks like this when you stir it." I would have been better off taking videos of her cook- ing than trying to measure and record the recipe on paper. Still, her process was the same every time she made fresh spaghetti. And the end result was consis- tently delicious. When you are consolidating the steps of your people's sales process, don't insist on being too precise on the amount of each "ingredient." However, you should insist on reaching a consensus on the order and outcome of each activity. Seek agreement on common mileposts or checkpoints along the way of the suc- cessful sale. Without a common language and approach, you may find you are trying lead a band of selling nomads— salespeople that complicate, rather than simplify your clients' lives and take an inordinate amount of time in doing so. When you've derived a disciplined sales process from the experience of your sales force, you should notice a sense of ownership and pride among your staff as they seek to perfect their recipe. During the mapping process, capitalize on the opportunity to publicly recognize certain sales professionals for their expertise in specific areas. Perhaps one sales rep is particularly good at presenting the final proposal while another may excel in making cold calls. By uncovering core competencies among your staff, you are, in effect, benchmarking their individual performance as a "standard" to which others should aspire. Once the ideal sales process is mapped, you should expect the same proven method to be practiced time and again in the field. Of course, each sales representative will apply his or her own unique selling style, but the outcome should be predictably favorable. The average sales cycle time should become shorter and the percentage of closed deals to proposal presentations made should steadily rise. A business owner's or sales manager's ability to coach and train to your unique sales process will shorten the time it takes to convert a rookie salesperson into a contributing member of your team. The Final Step: Holding the Gains Mapping the sales process may take an entire day or two of painstaking and seemingly endless debate. This is normal. When the dialogue reaches an impasse, the sales reps will look to management to break any ties. Avoid hastily making their decision for them. You should act as a neutral facilitator or, better yet, arrange to have an unbiased moderator—prefer- ably one that has been formally trained in process mapping—lead the session. Mapping the sales process is the mar- riage of art and technology. Appreciate the style and grace of an accomplished sales professional choreographing a sale, but become a student of the fundamen- tal mechanics of the selling process as well. You wouldn't relegate your pro- duction process to a "shoot from the hip" approach. Don't allow imprecision to creep into your sales strategy either. Good luck and good selling. SDG The Five Phases to the Sales Process: • Diagnosing the customer's underlying dissatisfaction and uncovering their strongest unmet needs, • Offering and presenting the solution(s) that is/are tailored precisely to the customer's circumstances, • Closing the deal, delivering on promises and fulfilling the first order, and • Nurturing and expanding the business relationship.

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