What Is a Structured Sales Process?

You finally scheduled the meeting you’ve been trying to get all year with the prospect that could be a game-changer. You show up with the perfect pitch, and your presentation is well-thought-out. You think you nailed it, but the prospect isn’t impressed.

So what happened?

Like a lot of sales reps who have been taught to pitch features and benefits, you made the classic mistake of jumping to marriage on the very first date. Slow down tiger!

As is the case with any relationship, business relationships take time and patience. Devising a clear plan on what you’re trying to accomplish in each step in your relationship-building efforts will help you recognize when you are successful (or not). You will also know when to circle back to clarify some question or concern you or your prospect may have.

In a service or solution-oriented business, the key is to utilize a structured sales process, which might look something like this:

  • Meeting 1: Establish rapport and gain an understanding of the prospect’s business, current situation and goals. You may also possibly discuss decision-making processes. Spend only 10% of your time, if that, on your products or solutions, and close on scheduling a second meeting to continue the conversation
  • Meeting 2: Include other key decision-makers in the conversation. Clarify and confirm the information gained during the last conversation and discuss any new information. Also position your products/services/solutions relative to their current situation, and close on getting agreement that you can present a solution should your plan meet their needs. Then schedule the next meeting.
  • Meeting 3: Now you’re ready to start presenting. Gain agreement at each point to confirm you’re on track and that they understand where you’re going. Gather initial thoughts, questions and objectives, and possibly test your pricing to see how they react. Close on an agreement for a follow-up conversation to answer questions.
  • Meeting 4: Prepare to handle objections and answer questions. This part of the process is about helping them see clearly that you understand their needs and that your products and services are worth considering. Clarify the next steps, close on a plan to seal the deal, and move forward with a kickoff meeting.

Following a structured process like this is important for improving your sales efficiency and increasing your close rate. Your particular situation may take more or fewer discussions and meetings than this, depending on many factors. The key is to pace yourself and let trust and understanding build before you jump right into your presentation.