The importance of a sales process for your service business
We all crave process when it comes to dealing with professionals.
We’ve all had experiences that were less than favorable when we’ve needed to go to the doctor’s office, had to hire an attorney or sat begrudgingly across from our tax accountant. I understand it can be hard for us to compare our industry to those seemingly unrelated businesses, but I want us to think about these professionals and the processes that they have in place.
I was recently at my local doctor’s office for a minor procedure; I won’t bore you with the exact details. All you need to know is there was a very sharp knife involved and a little anxiety on my part. My doctor and I have a very good relationship; we like to laugh and joke with each other. As he was moving in to cut me, he simply said, “Don’t worry, Kenny; I’ve never done this before but I saw it on ‘House’ one time.” I don’t watch much television, but I’ve seen the show advertised often enough that I got his humor, although I didn’t find it extremely funny at that moment.
My doctor was just having some fun at my expense, but it made me think about our businesses and what we do on a daily basis regarding customer service and sales. Personally, I’m very grateful that in spite of his lame attempt at humor, my doctor had a clearly defined process for the procedure he performed on me. Lawyers have systems and processes for creating contracts and business dealings. Accountants have processes for how they go about completing tax returns. Thankfully, airline pilots also have processes for checking an aircraft for safety prior to taking off.
We all crave process when it comes to dealing with professionals. It makes us feel comfortable because it shows us they have been in similar situations to ours and know exactly how to proceed effectively. So why is it that when it comes to our own companies, process can get thrown out the window in lieu of “every situation being different”?
That poor excuse is one of my favorite pushbacks from technicians when I’m training them on our Ultimate Client Experience Service Call. They resist process because they don’t want to feel like robots. I completely understand and support their concerns; we just have to help them see how much process can set them free and improve their results.
The only real difference in any sales situation is the customer. However, people are all looking for a similar experience when dealing with our company, and an efficient sales process helps us provide them with that favorable experience.
Why do we need a sales process?
An effective sales process involves creating standards, benchmarks and instructions regarding the precise steps of a sale. This ranges from the moment someone calls into the call center to being in the customer’s home to specific follow-up procedures. It’s also a systematic progression which allows every member of a company to understand what needs to happen (and when it needs to happen) in order to achieve desired results.
Process is critical to creating predictable, manageable results and we must embrace this belief in order to improve our companies. Do you think a company such as Amazon.com, one of the largest online retailers, could have experienced such massive growth without specific sales and service processes in place? That’s very doubtful. It’s been proven that businesses with specific processes experience more consistent overall results and establish better long-term relationships with their customers. In addition:
Process saves time.
With process, you make fewer mistakes.
You can learn from your mistakes.
You can replicate your strengths and minimize weaknesses.
Process improves confidence.
Process eliminates confusion.
Process sets standards and expectations.
As you can see, there are multiple reasons why it’s so important to have a strong process in place. I know there are more than the ones I’ve mentioned here. Everything just goes more smoothly and makes more sense when you follow specific systems and measure your results.
Creating predictable results
People often ask me about developing a powerful sales process within their organizations. They understand the need for a system but don’t know where to start. That’s part of the reason I developed my own 12-step sales process for technicians, so I can share it with others. However, many resources exist to help you develop your own set of procedures.
Focus on the crucial aspects of what makes your company successful, break them down into smaller pieces and techniques that have been proven successful, document them and share them with your team. The crucial aspects of implementing a new system are: to foster a company culture that involves consistent coaching and training surrounding the process; and to show how to make it work in the “real world” when technicians are with customers.
I recently was onsite at a client’s company, doing training and riding with technicians. On one of these ride-alongs, I witnessed one of the best service call experiences I’ve seen in more than a year. I wasn’t sure about the technician’s results in reference to company goals or how he ranked among the other technicians before we ran this call together, but once I saw his process, I knew he was a top producer.
As we were debriefing the service call, I asked him how the other technicians feel about his great sales performance (remember, I didn’t have a clue about his company standing). He told me they seemed fine and have supported him even though he was one of the newest team members and was leading the company results by quite a bit.
How did I know he was a leading technician? I knew because of his process, of course! Seeing how well he connected with the client early on in the call was my first clue. Witnessing how he portrayed confidence in himself, his company and the pricing options he offered was my second clue. The way he took notes while discovering the customer’s potential needs also tipped me off to his success level. The method he used to craft his Options Sheet and deliver those options to his customer was obviously something he did consistently.