Steps in Sales Process
Experts have suggested a five-staged formula known as A-l-D-A-S for effective selling process. However, this formula is more closely related to sales presentation (only one step in selling process), and not the entire selling process.
The formula has been briefly discussed here:
(I) ‘A’ – Attention calls for drawing attention or attracting of prospect. Salesman should try to adjust his talk with the needs of prospect or should talk according to the interest of potential buyers.
(ii) ‘I’ – Interest calls for making the customer interested in products. Salesman should do all possible efforts to arouse customer’s interest in product.
(iii) ‘D’ – Desire calls for arousing and increasing desire for product. Customer can ask for more information. Salesman must handle problems, doubts, and objections with patience. Here, buyer can be prepared to buy the product.
(iv) ‘A’ – Action calls for getting positive action of customer in terms of placing order. Here, the prospect becomes the actual buyer.
(v) ‘S’ – Satisfaction calls for taking necessary post-sales steps to satisfy the buyer.
1. Presales Preparations
Presale (before sales) is the step of getting ready to serve customers. A wise sales person must be well-prepared or well-equipped to treat the customers effectively. He must be aware of prospects to be served in terms of their buying motives and buying behaviour.
He must know about the company’s products, pricing policies, promotional efforts, and distribution network. Similarly, he must have complete detail about the company’s history, goodwill and reputation, achievements, objectives, and general policies.
In the same way, he must be familiar with competitors’ offers and overall marketing environment. In short, he must prepare himself to deal with customers successfully. It is like the homework before the examination.
Prospecting means finding or locating the potential customers. A prospect is a probable buyer with unmet needs, ability to pay, and willingness to buy.
There are a number of sources to locate prospects, such as:
- Present customers
- Other salesmen
- Company’s present employees
- Use of telephone directories
- Directories of professional and other associations
- Customer database prepared by companies or other professional agencies
- Other relevant sources.
Once the prospect is located, now, salesman has to collect necessary detail about him. Such detail helps him prepare his plan for sales presentation. Salesman collects adequate information about customer’s nature, needs, problems, personal habits, preferences, and other aspects of behaviour.
Salesman’s sales talk and sales presentation must be consistent with the nature of prospect. In brief, a salesman must know everything about the potential buyer to whom he has to meet in the near future.
Now, a sales representative has to seek advance appointment/permission for personal meet. Sometimes, he can use phone or send business (visiting) card to take advance appointment. In many cases, salesman can directly meet prospect without advance permission. Approaching method depends on type of prospects.
Anyway, this is the step where a salesman comes in a direct (and face-to face) contact with potential customer. At the time of the first meet, he has to greet him in an appropriate manner and has to briefly introduce himself.
Immediately, he must initiate brief talk and adjust with the situation. The first contact is very critical. Salesman must be able to attract the prospect’s attention and get him interested in the product. Note that he must not directly jump to sales talk.
5. Sales Presentation
This steps calls for a formal presentation of product. It includes sales talk and demonstration. Salesman should describe the offer in a suitable language, show the product, and, if needed, demonstrate it. In case of edible product, he may offer sample to taste. Sales presentation is closely related to buying process.
In this step, a salesman must get attention of customer and make him interested in the product. Salesman can do it through a lively and interesting sales talk as well as a systematic demonstration of product or offering samples to use and taste. Visual device can be used for sales demonstration. He can produce authentic evidences to prove the product’s superiority. All queries must be adequately solved.
6. Handling Objections and Complaints
Once a salesman completes his sales presentation, normally, customer raises objections and place complaints. Salesman may confront objections during his presentation, too. Objections and complaints show that customer is interested in the products, and is more likely to place an order.
Salesman must always welcome objections, interpret them clearly, and remove tactfully. Unless the objections and complains are satisfactorily answered, the sales cannot take place. Genuine objections should be interpreted correctly and removed tactfully.
Prospects must be convinced about benefits, superior performance, and strong aspects of the product. A great deal of expertise, experience, skills, and patience are important qualities to face buyer’s objections and complaints successfully.
7. Closing Sales
Closing of sales refers to completing sales procedure. It concerns with purchase decision. The close can be defined as: An act of actually getting the prospect’s assent. It is the climax, or the desired outcome of the entire sales process. Sales process ends with getting orders. A successful salesman must close the sales. An alert salesman must find out the right moment to get customer’s consent, it is called the reaction moment. Salesman must not wait for customer to ask for product, initiative must come from salesman.
8. Post-sales Actions
It is known as follow-up actions. Virtually, sales process ends with getting the order from buyers. But, getting order is not the ultimate goal of salesmanship, the transaction must take place. The step involves two actions – one is, completing of selling formalities and, the second is, taking other post-sales actions.
Salesman writes order, arranges for dispatch and delivery of the product, and decides on the mode of payment. Sometimes, the product is handed over immediately or is delivered thereafter. Bill and guarantee card are issued. Sometimes, he provides extra guidance for proper and safe use of product. In short, all selling formalities are completed.
Once product is delivered and sales formalities are completed, it doesn’t mean that sales process has ended forever. Delivery of product to customer is not the end, but an event. The event must be repeated. Salesman-customer relationship doesn’t end with one transaction, but is the beginning of long-term relationship.
Customers repeat orders only if they are satisfied with products and post-sales services. Customers’ future response depends on salesman’s post-sales behaviour and services. Therefore, salesman must undertake necessary actions to ensure maximum customer satisfaction and to avoid unexpected behaviour of buyers.
Salesman must remain in live contact with customer to know whether he is satisfied. If customer is not fully satisfied, the salesman must find our reasons or problems and must try to provide satisfactory solution. Even, dissatisfied customers can be prepared to try/buy the product again with suitable follow-up actions.