As I mentioned last month, if you have, or are adding a social enterprise effort to your organization, there is a high probability you are going to be selling a product or a service.  Here are some more things to consider…

‘If you can’t describe what you do as a process, you don’t know what you are doing.”

 

This quote by American engineer, statistician, professor, author, lecturer, and management consultant W. Edwards Demming is as relevant today as it was over 50 years ago.  If you plan to accomplish your goals, you need a straightforward system of repeatable steps to keep yourself organized and on target.  Not unlike the donor funnel, there is also a process for the sales cycle.  Developing a sales process for your social enterprise will help you coordinate your efforts and eliminate chasing business that is out of reach.  Following are the common stages of the sales process…

Identify

You’ve heard people talk about the low hanging fruit, that which is most easily picked?  Sales is really a process of elimination.  You need to determine where your time spent will yield the greatest results.  This is also known as identifying your target audience, that group of prospects that are most likely to purchase your product. Sound marketing research will provide a basis for where you should begin your process of finding new early stage leads.  Your prospecting may involve online research, networking and referrals, or engaging an existing database of contacts.

Connect

Once you have identified your target audience, the second stage involves connecting with these prospects.  Just remember that first, you must have a valid value proposition aimed at your target audience.  Then, you need to understand your audience within the context of your value proposition in an effort to generate resonance for your product or service.  So, it is important to learn all you can about your audience.  Armed with this knowledge around what your target audience reads, watches, or listens to; where they live, work, and play; and what interests them you can spread your message.  Traditionally, this marketing effort consists of a marketing strategy that includes various tactics like traditional advertising, mail/email campaigns, trade shows, networking opportunities, or sponsorships.  These touch points then lead (theoretically) to a place where you can initiate contact to gather information to judge their worthiness for moving forward.

Qualify

Any sales person worth their salt has followed plenty of leads down rabbit holes of lost sales and has learned how to avoid these distractions.  Qualifying leads is not an exact science, but you can improve your odds by employing factors such as budget, capacity, timing, interest, or gut instinct.  A relationship sales approach involves learning more about a prospect and their company as they progress through the sales process and can help sales reps offer a more tailored experience to improve the likelihood a deal will close.

This stage while often the most overlooked, is perhaps also the most critical, so I plan to noodle on it a bit more for a future post topic.

Demonstrate Value

If you’ve done your homework, here’s often where the real fun and salesmanship begins.  In your presentation, you need to translate your value proposition into the prospects needs, wants, and desires.  This is often the place where it is important to remember we have two ears and one mouth and to use them in proportion.  Your presentation(s) need to be practiced and often tailored to the prospect.  They need to anticipate objections and offer real solutions that support your value proposition.  This stage is time consuming and critical to your success, so it typically comes deeper in the sales process and only for well qualified prospects.

Guide Understanding

You’re down to the wire, the goal posts are in view.  This stage refers to those activities that happen as a deal approaches closing. This is where you manage objections, and frame thinking around why your prospect should select your product over the competition.  It varies widely from prospect to prospect and may include things like delivering a quote or proposal, pricing, delivery, or implementation negotiations, and achieving the final approval of decision makers.

Deliver and Support

You’re done!  Well, not really, your brand is what people think when they hear your name and the best way to improve your brand is by being excellent in what you do and offer to your audience.  Customer satisfaction is ultimate goal, it is most critical and the future of your social enterprise relies upon it, so don’t neglect this important last stage.

If you would like a bit of coaching or simply just have some questions about your social enterprise sales process, please give us a call!