Why you need to document your sales process

The dictionary defines process as “a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.” (I think that’s pretty close.)

We all use processes –– at work, at home, and just about anywhere. Suffice it to say, we can’t live without them.

The important thing to know about processes –– the thing they all have in common –– is they can be studied, analyzed, measured, and improved.

In my talks and private coaching program, I use a chart entitled Steps in a Typical Sales sales process chart v4aProcess. (Click the image to enlarge the chart.)

Step seven in the typical sales process is pricing. This is a point of constraint for many businesses. You may hate this step. You may feel insecure about it. Or you may worry about pricing too high or too low.

How you talk about pricing is part of a process. And that process can be choreographed. In How to Close More Business in Less Time, I tell the story of a company called Hallmark Home Remodeling and how their presentation about pricing was carefully choreographed.

While they didn’t use the same words each time they presented, they did follow a format –– a structure, a process.

Working with Hallmark, we created a pricing strategy and a way to present it. We created a chart much like my Steps in a Typical Sales Process chart.

During the early months, we critiqued each presentation. We made numerous changes to the presentation process.

By continually studying it, analyzing it, and measuring it, we improved it –– to the point where their closing ratio jumped. Where they were closing one or two out of ten, they were now closing five out of ten. The goal always is to increase that.

They learned pricing was no longer a problem if they stuck to the process.

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The greatest review ever received!

Naturally, I love it when someone tells me how much they enjoyed the book or how it helped them improve their closing ratio.

16537110 - emoticon showing thumb upBut one compliment has always stood out as a testimonial to the power of How to Close More Business in Less Time to bring about a significant improvement and outcome.

I met Susan G. at a networking event in New York City. I always carry a few books with me at events like that hoping someone will ask, “What are you reading?” or “What’s the book?” She did and asked if I would sell her one. (I never say no.)

How to Close More Business in Less Time was written and targeted for business owners – especially smaller businesses in which working smarter not harder is critical.

Susan was a team leader at a top-name financial services organization. In her charge were 20 associates. Her job was to keep them motivated and, most importantly closing more business. Needless to say, Susan wasn’t the market I wrote for the book.

Five months later I received a phone call from Susan. She asked if we could have coffee and we scheduled a time and place.

When she arrived, she brought the book she purchased from me. It looked like it had been through a street fight and lost.

Around the outside of the book were dozens of tabs – different colors, some with scribbles on them. Susan hadn’t only read the book. She studied it!

She reported that her team not only showed the greatest percentage of improvement over the previous quarter but were the number one team in the firm –– simply because she put the principles of How to Close More Business in Less Time to work.

 

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The purpose of marketing

While business owners and leaders spend a tremendous amount of time on developing marketing strategies and plans, they spend very little time even thinking about their sales process.

Ladder of Success copyThe way I see it, that’s like trying to climb a ladder with one leg.

The purpose of marketing is to directly support the sales process. That doesn’t mean supporting it only at the beginning of the sales process when it’s time to attract clients or seek out new prospects, but supporting it at every step throughout the sales process.

In How to Close More Business in Less Time, I define marketing as “any activity that speeds, shortens, streamlines, or favorably influences the outcome of the sales process.”

“Any activity” can include whitepapers, charts, graphs, emails, diagrams, videos, pricing options, testimonials, direct mail, thank you notes, follow-up phone calls, and so on.

A whitepaper can be used to support education. Graphs and charts can support a pricing rationale (especially important if you’re the high-priced guy on the block.) A follow-up interview – not a survey – with a 30-day and 60-day checklist supports not only follow-up after the sale but begins to build that ever-important lifetime relationship as you begin identifying upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

If your marketing is primarily all about front-end client attraction, perhaps it’s time to look at your sales process and to determine where and how you could be using marketing throughout the sales process to speed, shorten, streamline, or favorably influence the outcome of the sales process.

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An Amazon Bestseller

3D book bestseller logoYesterday, May 2, 2017, How to Close More Business in Less Time became an Amazon Bestseller.

I’m extremely grateful to the business owners and professionals who not only purchased it throughout the past several years but who also sent me personal notes telling me how they were able to use the information, ideas, and strategies in the book to improve their sales process and improve marketing results. Thank you.

best selling combo

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Talk to Me

It’s worse than Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day.

As a writer, I pride myself on being able to communicate with extreme clarity. My secret (and it’s no secret) is that I put myself in the place of the reader. Is this clear? Is there a better way of saying it? Can I simplify the message?

But more and more, the businesses I do business with communicate only antique telephonethrough email. A commercial printer, media channel, and an insurance company. It’s email or nothing.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the principle of email. It’s fast, efficient communication.

However, the emails I receive are so cryptic and incomplete that I need to pick up the phone to call the business for clarification. On those rare occasions when it can speak to a person to ask a question, that helps. But most of the time, I’m forced to leave my message or question in voicemail.

The vendor’s response comes to me through email – another cryptic and incomplete answer. Ergo, an endless Groundhog Day loop. Continue reading

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Self-promotion for one-man or one-woman bands

For most of my business career, I’ve been a solo practitioner – specifically a business and marketing consultant.

As a solopreneur, I’m chief cook and bottle washer. I like it and wohotdogcart3uldn’t want it any other way.

I prospect, court, pitch, write proposals, and close deals. I run back to my desk to do the work. (It’s excellent work!) And when it’s done, I send an invoice. The check comes in. I put on my bookkeeper hat and make a bank deposit.

It sounds like a chore but, admittedly, I love what I do.

The overriding challenge is that when I’m working, I’m not promoting myself or touting my work. I’m not writing blog posts, sending emails, or making phone calls. And I’m not networking and getting out among other business people.

Is this sounding all too familiar?

My answer was to write a book – a book intended to make the marketing world sit up and take notice as it connected the dots between marketing and the sales process.

Well, the world didn’t sit up and take notice of How to Close More Business in Less Time because I still had the same nasty problem of self-promotion. So, now I needed to promote the book.

A longtime friend says, “Gil, you should become a best-selling author.”

He proceeds to outline a process in which I promote my book on Amazon for one day only. He says, “Drop the price of the digital edition of the book to 99¢. You won’t get rich, but you’ll sell a lot of books. And selling a hundred or so books in one day will make you an Amazon Best Seller.”

So, I thought I’d try it. I picked Tuesday, May 2, 2017, as the one and only day for this promotion. I set up a landing page at GilEffron.com/99cents to help explain my deal and how it works. Most importantly, I’m promoting the heck out of this. We’ll see what happens.

Now, here’s the revelation – and what I believe is one of the answers for those of us who are solopreneurs and need to promote ourselves. When I made a personal commitment to promote the book and become an Amazon Best Seller, I began treating the project as though it was a client project.

I always get my client’s work done and I always deliver on time. It’s working. I’m now my own client allocating time each week to work on promoting my most important and valuable client – ME! And, of course, my book.

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99 cents well spent!

amazon banner2

When I wrote How to Close More Business in Less Time, my plan was to use the book as a calling card and professional credential.only 99 cents

And although it’s available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, I never invested time in selling  single copies.

However, since 2014, How to Close More Business in Less Time found its way into the hands of business owners, professionals, team leaders, emerging businesses, and startups who tell me the ideas I share are a real game changer. It put them back in the game… or kept them in the game… or helped push them higher than they ever dreamed possible!

It’s now time for a major relaunch of the book and to turn it into an Amazon Best Seller. That’s where you come in.

To Become an Amazon BEST SELLER, I need 100 Kindle sales in ONE DAY!

On Tuesday, May 2, 2017, ONLY, between 12:01 a.m. and 11:59 p.m., the Kindle version of How to  Close More Business in Less Time will be on sale for ONLY 99¢. (Best seller status is based on quantity purchased, not dollar volume.) Use the SHORTCUT LINK below to purchase the 99¢ Kindle deal.

Then, to thank you for purchasing the Kindle version on Tuesday, May 2nd, I’ll send you a FREE SUPER BONUS! – my 24-page ebook entitled “If you want to WRITE like a Marketing Pro, You need to THINK like a Marketing Pro!” This ebook contains many of the principles, strategies, and techniques I use for developing and writing marketing and sales copy that really pops!

Here’s how it works: After you place your order for the 99¢ deal, forward a copy of your Amazon email purchase confirmation to me at Gil [at] GilEffron [dot] com. When I receive your purchase confirmation email, I’ll email the ebook to you

Please mark your calendar so you don’t forget. Then, on Tuesday, May 2, 2017, you can jump onto http://amzn.to/2n9GjW0 to purchase the Kindle edition for ONLY 99¢.

Thanks for helping make  How to  Close More Business in Less Time an AMAZON BEST SELLER.

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Everything starts with a process

Highly creative and talented people – artists, writers, composers – don’t seem to have a process. The artist, for example, sits down at her easel, takes out a brush, dips it into some paint and begins painting. As we watch, the canvas comes aliProcess Blackboardve with shape and color. We wonder, “How does she do that? There’s no process. She just starts painting.”

Well, as with all creative people, the artist does have a process. We just don’t see it.

But it started with a process. Way back when the artist learned a process that incorporated specific techniques that she could use as her skills progressed. The process became automatic… natural… and effortless. And it continues to evolve.

I see the same thing in the world of marketing and sales. A highly-polished, effective marketing campaign instantly motivates people to act, buy now, or sign on the dotted line. We watch a business owner or sales manager making a presentation that seems to flow effortlessly from beginning to end – until the sale is won. But we don’t see the process nor does the prospect or buyer realize there is a process. Continue reading

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To get better results, get a better process

Most of us don’t think about the processes we use. We just keep using them. And that’s okay.

But when you think about the processes you use, chances are you can find a way to make them better. How to make a process better could come from a sudden flash of inspiration as you discover how to eliminate or simplify a step. Or it could come about systematically as you study the process, analyze it, measure it, and improve it.sales process chart v4a

That’s what I like best about processes – that every process can be studied, analyzed, measured, and improved.

If you’re in manufacturing, you can find a way to speed the assembly process, eliminate unnecessary steps, or increase efficiency. If you’re an online merchant, you can simplify your order handling or shipping process by making physical or data processing changes within the steps of the process. It’s not hard. You just need to study it and be willing to make a change.

Although people don’t usually think about sales as a process, it is one process I believe deserves constant attention.

In How to Close More Business in Less Time and in my private coaching program, I spend a lot of time talking about the sales process and, most importantly, how to improve it and perfect it so it closes more business in less time.

I use a chart (above) in my talks and coaching practice that shows a typical sales process. My sample sales process shows 12 steps. Yours may have more steps, or it may have less, and no two are alike. But every business has one.

Engineers use diagrams to study and improve production processes. You can do the same with your sales process.

By visualizing and graphically blocking your sales process, you identify areas where things aren’t working and, most importantly, where they could work better. Once you know your challenges and constraints, you can start to build an ideal sales process. That brings you closer to closing more business in less time!

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Have Ideas, Will Travel

Throughout my life, I’ve moved from city to city. From Cincinnati to Lansing, Michigan, to Cleveland to Florida to North Carolina to seven years in New York City and back to Florida. (Whoops, I forgot St. Louis.)

I look at my longtime friends who spent their entire life in one place. In many ways, I’m envious of their roots. But as new-york90I think of all the new people I’ve met and experiences I’ve had by being a vagabond, perhaps they were the ones missing out. (I sometimes wonder if they’re envious of me for the gypsy in my blood.)

I also have friends who have been in the same business or career their entire lives. In many ways, I’m envious of them for that. But I couldn’t do that. My nature has always been to try something else –– to learn about something new, to take a risk. Continue reading

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