Usually when I hear the word “share”, it’s in a positive connotation and it’s in a sentence declaring something we should do. “We should share” is something we’ve heard since we were kids. So, what if we completely shared our sales process with our prospects and existing customers that we have opportunities with? Could it be that we could engage more, drive deals quicker and be more predictive of which will close as a result?
In my previous companies, we were sales process hoarders. We created a sales process so that we knew opportunity status and next steps – but we kept it internal. The opportunity status was only discussed in the sales meetings and 1-on-1s for advice and input to get them closed. And the sales rep privately reviewed opportunity status to strategize next steps.
But what I discovered was that if I share the process with the prospect, I could engage them more and learn a lot to help us both come to the right decision quickly of whether we were a solution for their compelling pain or need. By not sharing, or only sharing bits and pieces, it took longer to move someone through the process and sometimes they would get stuck along the way at a milestone within a sales stage. For those that got stuck, it was a struggle to come up with ways to kick start them again, and ultimately we would send the “break up” e-mail to try and get a response. By sharing the sales process early and at each stage, it was easier to explain why we needed to move to the next steps and why it should be at the proper cadence so that we don’t forget anything we learned along the way. This was especially helpful if we were evangelizing a prospect that didn’t have budget yet. It also helped if we were trying to get to additional people in the buying process.
So some of you are thinking, you already do this. You already share the “close plan” with the prospect.
However, just using the word “close” causes issues. We actually renamed the “close plan” to the “decision plan.” If we are sharing our process, the prospect typically does not want to be “closed.” That would make it harder to get them to agree to the plan. I don’t know of many buyers thinking to themselves “I hope someone closes me on something that can help my business today.” The right process becomes “the decision plan.”
So here’s three tips that will make the sales process that you share more effective and quicker to get to a decision.
- Make each stage and milestone about them – don’t use terms that are sales speak or about “closing them.”
- Make it clear at each stage (and milestone) what value you are offering the prospect and the importance of the next one.
- Schedule the next meeting date at every meeting (assuming you have multiple meetings in the sales process), explaining the importance of not losing momentum of what was discovered in the current meeting.
By having a shared sales process with the prospect, you’ll be able to drive deals to quicker decisions and have much more predictability. Having a consistent process and getting everyone on the same page and agreement on status is important – so doesn’t it make sense that the prospect should be part of that consistent process?
Jim Eberlin is the founder and CEO of TopOPPS. Previous to TopOPPS, Jim was founder and CEO of Host Analytics and Gainsight, two market leaders located in Silicon Valley that have raised over $150 million in venture capital. Jim has several years in executive management within the software industry and he serves the tech entrepreneurial community by sharing his experience in early through growth stage.