A sales process is an intentional strategy used to convert prospects into paying customers. This is often accomplished by designing a “sales funnel” where customers are given a clear path which walks them step-by-step toward becoming an ideal customer.
While there are many reasons to create a sales process, it should be more than just a packaged guide that points toward the cash register - it is something that is big, clunky, and complex, but still needs to be beautifully designed. To fully answer the question of what is a sales process, I would like to share with you one of my recent experiences.
I found myself somewhere I never expected to be - I was at a Taekwondo tournament watching my son compete on a regional level.
There were two reasons I didn’t expect this. First, my son isn’t the athletic type and had never shown a real interest in sports. Secondly, I had never been exposed to martial arts. As a parent, we often expose our children to activities and sports that we are familiar with. And for this reason, I had never even considered martial arts as an option for my son.
But how had I ended up here, watching my intellectual son competing in a tournament? I realized that I was there because the Taekwondo academy understood martial arts marketing and really understood what a sales process is- they learned how to create a fantastic sales funnel that had led me to this point.
THE SALES FUNNEL
For me, I have always thought about tech companies when thinking about a sales funnel. Tech companies constantly talk about the process of converting a website visitor into a paying customer. But my son’s Taekwondo academy helped remind me of the importance of a sales funnel for brick and mortar businesses.
In its simplest form, a sales funnel is the process by which a prospect moves from a prospect to becoming an ideal customer. It provides a path for a prospect to walk and creates momentum towards an end goal. Basically, it is a strategic process that helps to proactively create ideal customers.
THE FOUR PHASES
Generally, a sales funnel will consist of four phases: Discovery, Tasting, Entry, and Commitment - this is how to create a sales process. For example, let us take a look at my son’s path to the Taekwondo tournament. First, he discovered them through a demonstration at his school. In addition, they found him by going to the school. This was the discovery phase of their sales process. Next, my son was given a free lesson which was a chance for him to taste what the academy was like. He met an instructor, learned a few Korean words, and learned how to bow in and bow out when entering and exiting the academy.
The next step in the sales funnel was for us to sign my son up for a 6 month membership where he went through his first three belts. This was a fairly easy step for my son as the program was designed to teach students the basics of Taekwondo. Once that initial membership was complete, it was time for the real commitment. This is where my son enrolled in the Black Belt club which is a two year tract with the goal of earning his black belt. This membership required a significant commitment from both my son, for his efforts, and from me financially. It involved the purchasing of sparring gear, an increased monthly membership fee, and separate testing and tournament fees.
But for my son (and the three other students who were in his same belt level), the decision to make this big commitment was easy to make. My son had already earned several belts, had increased respect and manners at home, and was building confidence. We liked what we had and were willing to continue down the path we were on.
WHY IT WORKS
To break this down even further, let’s take a look at why the sales process worked for my son. The Taekwondo Academy’s sales funnel essentially created three things: momentum, anticipation, and trust. First, the sales funnel provided a clear path for my son to follow. The academy essentially walked him from one phase to another. Each phase had a smooth transition and was a natural next step. Once we started down this path, we were moving and enjoying the ride.
Secondly, the sales funnel provided anticipation at each step of the process. The demonstration left my son with a coupon for a free lesson, which he talked about for weeks before we finally scheduled the lesson. The lesson created excitement for becoming part of the “family” atmosphere the academy has created. Then the basic membership helped my son get excited about earning his black belt, not to mention the next belt which he was already on his way to earning.
Finally the sales funnel built trust. I never would have been willing to enroll my son into the full black belt program if I had been asked to do so in the very beginning of the process. Now, parents who had been exposed to martial arts previously may have been willing to take that jump, but that jumbo would have been to big for me to take initially. I found it amazing how the sales funnel process built the appropriate level of trust needed for me to proceed to the next phase.
In evaluating the sales function of our businesses, it is important to ask ourselves a few questions. First, does our process provide a clear path for a prospect to follow that will lead them to becoming an ideal customer? Secondly, does our process provide momentum so that moving from one phase to the next comes naturally for the prospect? Next, does our sales function create excitement and anticipation for the next phase of the process? And finally, are we building an appropriate amount of trust for the product we are offering prior to soliciting the sale?
When the answer to all of these questions is a resounding yes, then life in the sales department will be much easier - the sales funnel will be selling itself.