How to Convert Leads Into Buying Customers: The 9 Step Sales Process EVERYONE Should Use

by Steven Tulman

ICM Consulting and Media Corp.

Feb. 11, 2014

I recently gave two presentations to MBA and BBA students at the Schulich School of Business in Toronto on the topics of Sales and Entrepreneurship. I shared with them the sales process that I find most effective when converting prospects into paying customers, and the feedback I received was tremendous. After the presentations, students came up to me one by one asking if I could elaborate on each milestone of the process.

Organizations spend a ton of money on driving qualified traffic to their websites and on converting them into inbound leads. It’s methodical to the point that almost every pixel on their website, and every keyword they advertise, plays a specific role in generating more and more quality leads. The same attention to detail is often times missing when it comes to the follow up process once a lead is sent to a sales person. This is often done ad hoc, without planning, and it’s time to take the same methodical approach on the sales side of things and start generating more revenue for your business.

So today I’m going to share with you the 9 Step Sales Process that I follow in which the completion of each step brings you closer to closing the deal. Each week hereafter I will elaborate on one of the milestones of the process and answer any questions that you may have.

  1. Prospecting Stage: Determine who your target demographic is, how to target them, and what are the buying centers you need to reach out to.
  2. Pre-Qualification Stage: Confirm ability to make decisions, determine budget constraints, explore the need and understand their timeline.
  3. Intro Call & Needs Discovery Stage: Build trust, outline your agenda, share valuable industry insights, bring value to the customer, and tailor the presentation to your customer’s needs. Discuss the company’s background and current situation, explore challenges, discuss negative implications of not overcoming challenges, discover positive outcomes of solving challenges today.
  4. Presenting Your Solutions Stage: Demonstrate the features, explain the benefits relating to the customer, and discuss the improvements that could occur to their overall business and career if they use your solution to address their challenges.
  5. Proposal Presentation Stage: Double-check all spelling, grammar and calculations. Include all promises made and review with your prospect before sending to the finale version.
  6. Negotiation & Review Stage: Get feedback from your prospect and work through any issues, objections, or stalls that may arise. Determine timeline for procurement and suggest that you present to the final decision maker or committee if their approval is still required.
  7. Final Decision & Contract Approval Stage: Understand the key elements decisions are based on, how to approach committees and decision makers and how to handle objections. Don’t celebrate yet; it may not be a done deal. Learn what can go wrong and how to address it.
  8. Funds Collected & Solution Implementation Begins Stage: First payment is collected, and the work begins. The sales is considered closed at this time.
  9. Customer Onboarding, Engagement, Experience Stage: What to do now to ensure continued success and customer loyalty?

9 steps really isn’t much when you consider the fact that several of those steps are usually grouped together. For example, an inbound lead takes care of the prospecting step. Then all you need to do is call the lead back to qualify them and book a meeting. During the presentation stage, depending on the nature of your product or service, you could combine steps 3 (Intro Call & Needs Discovery Stage) and 4 (Solution Presentation Stage), in most cases and in shorter more transactional sales cycles you can even throw in milestones 5 through 8.

Next week I will be dissecting the Prospecting Stage and providing some useful tips and tricks on how you can maximize your time to get better results.

Click on the link below to read the next article in the series where I share with you 5 GREAT tips to help you prospect more effectively while looking at the first milestone of the 9-Step Sales Process, the Prospecting Stage.

Next in this series: 

5 Tips to Help You Prospect Better - The 9 Step Sales Process Stage 1: The Prospecting Stage

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