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The 5-Step Sales Process: Creating Visible Deal Progress

Sales performance improvement

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The 5-Step Sales Process: Creating Visible Deal Progress with CRM Tools

To win a sale, sellers must commit to a sales process that focuses on a small set of objectives. Richardson approaches this with a 5-step sales process, made to show visible deal progression at each phase.

The sales pursuit, like any journey, is about reaching a destination. The problem is that too often the destination is the only objective. A critical second piece is missing: the seller’s location.

Without knowing where they are, the seller will not know which way they need to go to win the sale. Additionally, without knowing the critical mile markers between those two points, sellers cannot measure their progress. These crucial points are missing from many sales pursuits, obstructing the path to a successful sale. 

This lack of clarity might explain why nearly half (45%) of surveyed sellers say that their biggest challenge is incomplete data, according to research from LinkedIn. This research also shows that sellers spend less than one-third of their time strictly selling. With so much missing information, it’s easy to see why sellers lose track of their focus and progress.

Sellers need to reorient the map to create a clearer path. This clarifies what the seller needs to do and allows them to do those things better. Following this process allows them to give their full attention to fewer, but more important objectives. They can also afford to spend more time determining if those objectives have been fully satisfied. To reach these goals, we introduce our opportunity vitals. This 5-step sales process teaches sellers the key objectives that mark the path to a win.

What is the 5-Step Sales Process?

Our 5-step sales process uses key objectives, called Opportunity Vitals, to track progress. Each vital, pain, power, vision, value, and consensus, work interdependently, each one leading to the next. They bring structure and direction to an otherwise complex and confusing process. Put simply, opportunity vitals help sellers flex and stay focused on outcomes.

When following this 5-step sales process, sellers gain clarity. They can identify gaps that prevent movement. This leads to a clearer path that outlines the precise action the seller should take next. Sellers will also learn a method that helps them target critical customer information early.

Having clarity in a sale is because it keeps sellers focused, especially at a time when 59% of employees are not engaged; according to Gallup’s 2023 State of the Global Workplace report. This lack of engagement costs the global economy an estimated $8.8 trillion and accounts for 9% of global GDP. To stay focused on the path of a sale and ensure success, sellers need to do the following:

1. Diagnose Pain

Sellers must diagnose before prescribing. They need to understand the customer’s core problem. While the list of possible pains is limitless, they all connect to one of three base needs: to make money, save money, or manage risk. If there is no clear, identifiable pain then there is no sale. Without a paid point to address, the seller should redirect their focus to other opportunities instead. Understanding the customer’s pain is crucial because it is their singular reason for buying.

2. Access Power

Sellers can’t sell to someone who can't buy. Power refers to the stakeholders who are authorized to make a purchasing decision. Sales professionals need to ensure that access this group and position the solution in a way that resonates with the decision makers. Skilled sales professionals can ask their primary contact for access to those with the power, without alienating that contact. Power must collaborate on and own a differentiated buying vision.

3. Align the Vision

Aligning on vision means understanding the capabilities the customer needs, quantifying the value of the solution, and gaining clarity on the decision-maker’s personal needs. Sales professionals need to know if they have aligned to a buying vision that addresses the customer’s central needs. They also need to know if the solution differentiators are part of that vision.

4. Identify the Value of a Solution

Sales professionals need to place the value of the solution within the context of measurable business factors, like expected revenue gain, gross margin, or long-term savings. The value of the solution must exceed that of the status quo and any competing solution the customer is considering. Value persuasion is a process. Value must be set up, collaborated on, proven, and measured over time.

5. Reach a Consensus

To reach a consensus, stakeholders must confidently agree upon all aspects of the solution. This includes the conceptual, transitional, and financial aspects. If the stakeholders agree on these three parts, they believe that the solution will address the core challenges, can be implemented fast, and warrants an investment over other priorities.  Co-creating a collaboration plan involves mutual benefit and validates power’s commitment.

Learn more about the Opportunity Vitals in our brief, “Bring Agility to Selling with Opportunity Vitals”

Putting the 5-step sales process in action

Sellers put these vitals to use by rating, on a scale of 1 to 6, how well they have satisfied each one. When a vital is at optimal health it receives a score of 6. When the health of a vital is at its lowest it receives a score of 0.

This kind of measurement is crucial at a time when selling has become complicated, and non-linear. A seller might spend considerable time and resources on activities with the customer, yet fail to make progress.

Having an objective approach to assessing progress helps sellers:

  • Understand the standards for real progress
  • Avoid costly assumptions
  • Know where to focus their efforts
  • Know when to disqualify an opportunity

Consider, for example, a seller who is examining the “pain” vital. This seller will gauge this vital to be at peak health – a score of 6 – when the key stakeholders have confirmed the specific pain they face and its link to their business strategy. If, however, the seller has not identified any need or pain in the customer’s business this vital has a health score of 0.

The other scores of 2-5 represent varying levels of health in the vital. Each number corresponds to a specific condition. The number increases as the seller moves closer to achieving the ideal health status for a vital.

Help your sales team hit their stride and drive momentum in every sales conversations with our Sprint Selling Program.

Why do these vitals need to be in the CRM?

When sales leaders place these five vitals into the CRM system, they are communicating that they are a priority. This aligns the entire sales team to the same methodology, allowing leaders to measure its effectiveness using a consistent scale. Placing the vitals in the CRM system also keeps them front and center for sellers who manage many responsibilities.

Moreover, since the opportunity vitals match crucial selling behaviors, incorporating these vitals in CRM enables exact measurement of behavioral changes. This ensures that sellers apply appropriate behaviors at the right time. In turn, this methodology becomes quantifiable and paves a clear route to performance evaluation. After executing the opportunity vitals, organizations can gauge performance enhancements directly from their results.

How effective is this approach though? High-stakes jobs rely on this process-driven approach every day to reach maximum results while avoiding risks. Research from Dr. Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto, makes a case for this. When he provided an I.C.U. with a five-point checklist for a specific procedure, infection rates fell from 11% to zero. After two years of using this approach, it was estimated that 43 infections were prevented. It also prevented eight I.C.U. deaths and ultimately saved the hospital about $2 million. Due to its effectives, other risk-averse professionals, like airline pilots, also use this approach.

The vitals are crucial because many failed deals are the result of sellers not fully understanding the prospect’s needs, decision-making process, or objections before moving on to the positioning of the solution.

Implementing a structured 5-step sales process, supported by CRM tools, is essential for creating visible deal progress and achieving sales success. By focusing on Opportunity Vitals, sellers can gain clarity, identify gaps, and stay focused on outcomes. When sellers do not fully understand the prospect’s needs, decision-making process, or objectives, it results in a failed sale. By utilizing the opportunity vitals and measuring their health within the CRM system, sales leaders can prioritize and evaluate performance effectively. Embracing this approach empowers sellers to navigate the complex sales landscape with clarity and purpose, leading to increased sales productivity and success. Click here to set up a meeting with us today to learn how Richardson can empower your sales team with the confidence to know what to do, when, how, and why.

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