How to Build a SaaS Sales Funnel

saas sales funnel

1. What is a Sales Funnel?

A sales funnel is a sequence of actions, events or stages that a user goes through before purchasing a product or service. Sales funnels are designed to allow marketers to track, record and optimise the sales process to improve results.

You can learn more about our SaaS sales training here.

2. How to build a SaaS Sales Funnel

Your SaaS sales funnel is an essential part of your Apps success. If you’re offering SaaS apps then creating a repeatable, scalable and trackable sales funnel is one of the important steps that you need to take.

Sounds easy? Then think again. The sales funnel is where many start-ups transitioning into revenue generation struggle, and in many cases fail.

Before starting to build your funnel it’s worth first considering where you are in your app journey.

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3. The three main stage of SaaS development

Unfortunately, in sales there is never a one size fits all solution, and the starting point for how to build a SaaS sales funnel is dependent on where you are, in the terms of the three main stages of a SaaS business?

Are you at:
Phase 1: the start of the journey whereby the Founder and primary team are still trying to establish product/market fit.

Phase 2: where the founder and primary team members have proven product/market fit and are proving they can implement systems and processes that others can use to sell.

Phase 3, the final hurdle where you have a proven product market fit, you’ve identified and proven the right systems and processes for scaling and you are now ready to scale your sales, focus on client acquisition and build up your MRR.

The strategies you use for building a SaaS sales funnel will vary depending on exactly what you learned in Step 1 above.

So for the purposes of this exercise, I will assume you are at Step 1. If you are still struggling to build a sales funnel at steps 2 and 3 then either you missed something at step 1, or something has changed that has made everything you learned at step 1 stop working.

4. Build a marketing funnel before your sales funnel

With any business it’s important that you provide the optimal conditions for your sales team to be successful. In the SaaS world it’s not enough to have a great website, you need a website that:

a) can be found by your products and services in the major search engines – Google, Bing, Yahoo & YouTube
b) can be found by the problems you solve in the major search engines – Google, Bing, Yahoo & YouTube
c) can convert web traffic to marketing qualified leads

Many companies ignore this and rush to build an outbound sales team. The fact is that every potential prospect that your outbound Team gets interested will then go to your website to do further research.

Unless the web experience is equal to or greater than the prospects experience with your outbound team they will immediately switch off.

To build a marketing funnel you must create “compelling user first content”. This is content that the user is actively searching for not the content that your sales and marketing team want to push.

You SaaS marketing funnel is an essential part of your Inbound sales strategy. To do this successfully you will need to create high quality content at each stage of the buyer journey as shown below.

The content should subtly tell your brand story and the success you have brought to other users. Turn your early adopters into the Heroes not you.

TOFU – Top of funnel
The first part of your sales funnel otherwise known as TOFU is the awareness stage of the funnel. The prospect is aware of the problems they have and is investigating solutions.

Your website must have content that speaks to these problems and position your company as the Subject Matter Experts. The most popular content here would be:

How to guides
Explainer videos
Blog posts
Lead Magnets

At this stage, the prospect is in research mode, not buying mode and is simply gathering information.

Your prospect may not even be interested in solutions at this stage as they are still trying to accurately self-diagnose their own problems. It’s unlikely that your prospect will want to talk to sales at this stage.

We recommend you use marketing automation to track which articles/pages your prospects enter the site on as this is the problem that is top of mind for them. Knowing this can make it easier for sales to have a relevant conversation with them.

You may also have some success engaging the prospect with chatbots on your site, however many will want to remain anonymous at this stage.

Middle of Funnel
The middle of your sales funnel is when prospects start to evaluate specific solutions based on what they learned in stage 1. Middle of funnel content would include:

Presentations
Demonstrations
Case Studies

In practical terms they will have created some form of shortlist of potential suppliers, and they will then dig deeper into the details of each potential solution.

At this stage the prospect may still not engage with you as they are often simply researching on behalf of other people within their own organisation and their priority is still information gathering.

Bottom of Funnel
By the time your prospect has reached the bottom of your marketing funnel in many cases they have already “bought into” one particular supplier or solution.

They have made their decision largely on their web experience of the brand, your sales messaging and your ability to position yourself not only as a though leader but as a thought leader in that understands their problems.

Bottom of Funnel content would included things like:

Pricing
Comparison tables
Testimonials
Reviews

For simpler lower priced solutions you will find they are now ready to take a trial if you offer a strong Call to Action (CTA), whilst for the more expensive and complex solutions they will now engage with sales.

The image below shows where a simple marketing funnel transitions into a shopping cart and the more complex B2B sale transitions into a lead for sales.

Success lies not in choosing the right model, but building your own model based on data and trial and error.

Simple SaaS Marketing funnel
SaaS Sales Funnel

Most marketing software now tracks user behaviour on your website and may use lead scoring to alert salespeople when the best time to pro-actively reach out to prospects.

From our own experience the timing is nearly always to early and a well-defined lead nurturing programme is equally effective.

In order to do this you should build into your marketing an at least three different lead magnets that will help you turn your web visitors into a subscriber so you can keep in touch.

5. Advertising to fill your Sales Funnel

Many companies successfully fill their sales funnel via advertising. Digital advertising has matured to a level that allows significant tracking and reporting allowing you to within a matter of weeks understand what your Conversion Ratio and CAC will be.

In the first instance we would advocate “Re-targeting Campaigns”. This is simply the process of placing adds in front of people who have already visited your website.

Studies show retargeting is seven times more effective than new campaigns which is why we advocate this as a starting point.

This strategy works extremely well with a strong content marketing campaign. The most popular add channel for B2B would be LinkedIn, however, many companies have also done well with Facebook and Instagram.

Needless to say this would be defined by your audience. Advertising can be used in simple funnels to drive sales and more complex ones to drive new enquiries for sales reps.

More complex sales may need a defined sequence whereby users click on and advert to receive a lead magnet with each lead costing $3.

If you subsequently manage to convert 5% of these new leads you can then attribute $60 per sale from advertising to your CAC.

You can build a trackable sequence or model from any activity not just advertising. For example, events, webinars and telesales allowing you to understand which activities are the most cost effective not only at filling your funnel, but actually converting into orders.

6. How to Build a SaaS Sales Funnel

Your sales funnel will vary depending on your sales strategy. Are you selling your App direct or are you selling through partners? Which channels have you decided to focus on initially?

1. Identify your Perfect Prospect Profile. This is the sales reps version of a marketing persona. It includes everything that a marketing persona would include, plus some additional information that helps sales understand and communicate at a deeper level with the prospect.

Sales Prospect Profile Template
Sales Prospect Profile Template

2. Build your sales messaging. Part of the product/market fit is understanding what business and or personal problem your product solves.

In our experience the most successful SaaS services are business solutions that solve business problems.

Once you understand how this relates to your own product/service at a deep level you can start to build your sales messaging.

This is the words and nuanced language you have proven that prospects connect with. It’s not enough to know about your own business and solutions, you should know about your customers.

You should know exactly how your solution helps your customer save money, make money and make their life easier.

3. Lead Generation Campaign.

Once you have identified your target prospects and built your sales messaging you will need to start work on a Lead Generation campaign.

There are two main approaches to Lead Generation as follows:

a) Inbound Lead Generation. Inbound lead generation campaigns are where the prospect contacts you first. The may fill out a form on your web page, telephone you or email you. In order to generate inbound sales leads you will need to do some form of content creation, ad campaigns, webinars, referral programmes or SEO.

b) Outbound lead generation. Outbound lead generation campaigns are where you reach out to prospects via telephone, email, direct mail, events or account based marketing. Outbound campaigns invariably means you will have to build an outbound says team which can be expensive.

The majority of SaaS companies use a combination of inbound and outbound, however, they nearly always have an emphasis on one more than the other.

As a very rough guide, SaaS services that are lower cost and targeting SMEs, are marketing led and have a predominantly Inbound focus.

SaaS services that are more expensing and targeting Mid-Market to Enterprise organisations will have a more sales led approach via Account Based Marketing.

7. What are the Stages of a SaaS Sales Funnel?

saas sales funnel
How to Build a SaaS Sales Funnel

The stages of your sales funnel are simply a series of steps that your prospects move through to place an order.

These stages can vary greatly and there is no one funnel that you can apply to every app. Even if the stages are the same the method by which you move prospects through the funnel may vary.

Your sales funnel is a great place to start collecting data in order to measure performance and make improvements over time.

In general, prospects should move through the sales funnel as quickly as possible – this is called the sales cycle or pipe speed.

Measuring the speed that prospects move through the cycle allows you to identify blockages in your funnel and areas where prospects slow down.

These “sticking” points are where you should look to make improvements.

8. When do I demo my SaaS product to customers?

The timing of SaaS app demos within the sales process has been the subject of discussion for many companies.

The answer unfortunately to the question is “it depends”. Many companies successfully demo their app at the start of the sales process, however, there are equally many who demo at the start and then have their prospects disappear into the black hole of voice mail and unanswered emails.

In short the cheaper and simpler the solution, then the earlier in the process you can demo and the more expensive and complex the solution the demo should be pushed as far back in the selling process as possible.

How to Build a SaaS Sales Funnel

The reality is that there is a tendency for Entrepreneurs and salespeople to rush to demo their app, hoping the demo will convince the prospect to sign up.

Even if the prospect is qualified and a good fit, a demo without any form of diagnosis of the prospects pain is in danger of losing the prospect.

Your prospect needs to know that you know and that you understand their world. This can only be achieved via intelligent and targeted questioning. If you want to speed the sale up, slow the sale down.

The demo is usually the salespersons greatest point of leverage and if you give it away to soon you will lose the leverage and in all likelihood the prospect.

As a general rule of thumb – push the app demo as far back in your sales process as possible.

Demos cost time and money especially for complex sales where more often than not a bespoke demo is required.

Any bespoke demo must only be delivered to the senior decision makers on the prospects buying team. If appropriate you can even have two demos within the sales process – there are no rules other than if it works do it.

Most sales reps make the mistake of using this part of the sales process to explain the benefits of the product in more detail.

When you’re telling you’re not selling. Use intelligent probing questions to get the prospect to tell you how the solution will solve their business pain.

You should avoid talking about features that you believe to be relevant to them. If you didn’t uncover this in the discovery stage of the sales process it’s inherently risky to introduce anything new further down the process.

For simpler lower priced solutions you will find they are now ready to take a trial, whilst for the more expensive and complex solutions they will now engage with a sales rep.

In order to demonstrate they have undertaken due diligence they will always speak to two or three potential suppliers.

This isn’t necessarily to beat a supplier down on price, but sometimes they need to validate to the wider purchasing group within their organisation why they have a preference.

App trials are also a good way to get users to sign up, however, the conversion ratio of trials to close is usually poor in most SaaS cases.

Depending on the pricing you could offer a managed trial, so they can evaluate your software while you manage them further down the sales process.

During a trial, the prospect can see how the product will work for them in practice. It’s important to time the trial wisely and ensure you have agreed in advance what happens if the trial is successful.

We’ve created the graphic above to try to explain visually how this might work for your organisation.

It’s worth noting in the example, the majority of your CAC will be marketing, whereas in the more complex funnel your costs will include marketing, sales + customer onboarding.

9. SaaS Sales Funnel examples

The sales funnels below are examples. You should NOT replicate these unless they fit with your sales process.

They are designed to be a starting point for those looking to develop a sales funnel.

As you can see from the graphic, there are many alternatives to the stages that go to make up your sales funnel depending on the type of funnel you are creating.

For purely digital funnels you could have:

Lead Magnet Landing page – where prospects arrive after clicking on your advert
Confirmation Page – confirming your free offer, trial or purchase
Upsell page – where prospects have an opportunity to add additional services or upgrade
Checkout page – where prospects pay for the service
Congrats or Thank You page – where you can sign post prospects with the appropriate next steps.

B2B-Sales-Pipeline
How to Build a SaaS Sales Funnel

10. SaaS sales funnel metrics

When it comes to metrics we believe these are the common sales operations metrics and KPIs that most people are familiar with. Needless to say these metrics are important and you should be recording and reporting on them.

LTT – Lead to trial conversion
This is the number of leads who have converted to a trial.

DCR – Demo conversion ratio
The number of demos that successfully convert to the next stage in the sales process.

TTS – Trial to sale conversion
This is the number of prospects on the free trial who have converted to paying customers.

LTV – Lifetime Value of the customer
This is the average total value a customer will spend before leaving the service. Ironically this can be more difficult to measure the better your product is because, without customers leaving you will not know how long they stay and their total value to the business.

Churn – Number of customers leaving
Customers will leave and that’s not always a bad thing. If the customers who leave fit your ICP (Ideal Client Profile) then you have a problem. Customers who leave that don’t fit your ICP may be freeing up valuable resource that can be spent on your ICP.

MRR – Monthly recurring revenue
The monthly recurring revenue gives you an overview of your success, however, it’s only an overview and you need to look at the details within the data to gain a more accurate picture.

ARR – Annual recurring revenue
The annual recurring revenue gives a good overview of the business, but like the MRR you should study all the data to obtain a more accurate picture on the health of your venture.

Sales Cycle – The time from initial contact through to a closed order
This is typically short for lower value simpler solutions and longer for complex Enterprise sales. For example a sales to a Tier 1 bank may take 18 months from initial contact to close.

CAC – Customer Acquisition Cost
It’s important to understand how much it costs you to acquire a single customer. In an ideal world you would discover this in the initial phases of the business when you are proving the value proposition. Without this figure it’s impossible to put in the systems and processes to scale the business as you won’t know how much you can spend on the front end marketing and sales.

Negative Churn –
Negative churn is a powerful growth metric which indicates that the revenue from upselling and cross selling existing customers out strips the revenue lost when customers leave.

11. SaaS Proposal submissions

After the final demo, you should never offer to send a proposal.

Proposals cost time and money and if your prospect is interested they will ask you for a proposal.

If your prospect doesn’t ask you for a proposal then it tells you that they aren’t interested in working with you and you need to move back up the sales process to understand where you have gone wrong.

When the sales process stalls it’s rarely because of something you have done wrong at that moment – more often, it’s something you missed earlier on in the sales process.

Make sure you’re confident all the benefits of the software have been clearly explained to them and mapped out against their stated needs.

Where possible, always get your White Knight to help you co-create the proposal and sense check a draft version with them in advance of sending the official copy.

Before sending your proposal you must have a clear understanding of what the next steps are if you win or lose.

Without this you are most likely to spend the next three months chasing ghosts in voice mail.

12. Pricing your SaaS contracts

Many companies provide limited or no pricing at all on their website because they don’t want their competitors to see their pricing, or they think it will scare away potential customers.

You should be proud of your price and the value you bring. Let the competition undercut you and tie up all their resources on unprofitable deals.

People rarely buy the cheapest solution, so allow your prospects to undercut you.

If you’re still anxious about having your pricing on your website then think about how you feel when you are researching a solution you are interested in only to find the pricing page is littered with POA.

If you’re like most people you find this really annoying and quickly move on to the next potential supplier.

Lastly, another advantage of proudly displaying your pricing is that it qualifies out anyone who is not prepared to invest at that level.

This can save you lots of time and resources with prospects who simply have a different budget level.

There are numerous pricing strategies available to you, however, from our experience the only thing that is guaranteed, is that you will change your pricing.

As a basic rule of thumb if your prices are set too high for a short-term contract or paid trial, the prospect may fail to experience the full benefits of the software before the contract comes to an end, and they may decide not to renew.

Where possible you should reward prospects during the trial period for adding information and using the service.

For example, offer a shorter trial and incentivise users if they complete their profile/account set up.

Offer a further free period encourage them to use the product for example if they upload data into the system.

The idea is to “onboard” your new users step by step and make your product as sticky as possible.
If the prospect does want to go ahead you should use contracts with digital signature to speed up the sales process.

Never send contracts in emails or links to digital contracts as these can be easily ignored.

Arrange to get the prospect on the phone and talk through the contract with them. Once they have agreed to everything in the contract simply ask them to sign while you have them on the phone.

This way you retain control of the sales process.

13. Why the sales funnel is so important for SaaS providers

Many businesses have failed after struggling to implement a sales funnel. Marketing and selling SaaS products can be incredibly challenging, and chances are your target customers are already overwhelmed with offers from competing software vendors.

Think about which part of the buyers existing budget you are going to win revenue from. What direct or indirect competitors will you take budget away from?

You may be competing with some of the biggest and most powerful brands in the world that are providing generic solutions to the same problems you solve.

This means you need to offer something distinctive that your customers actually require.

A CB Insights study said 42% of SaaS start-ups fail because they’re offering products their target customers don’t need.

Convincing potential customers your software offers genuine value is essential.

14. Managing prospects expectations

Creating a sales funnel is all about building a journey all the way from web visitor, to subscriber and through demos and trails and ending with the contract being signed.

Your sales funnel should emphasise each of the key stages your prospects will travel through on their way to an agreement being made.

Be open, upfront and share the stages of the process in advance with your prospects.
You should pay close attention to any points of friction that might occur as your prospects travel through your sales pipeline.

This will give you the opportunity to make improvements to your funnel moving forward.
What’s most important is that you record all the data points in your sales funnel.

This will help you make decisions on facts rather than your gut feelings. It can take time for your sales funnel to become fully effective, and you may need to make several refinements before you have a truly optimised sales funnel.

Many customers don’t have a rich understanding of what they need when they first encounter you. Provide solutions not just products by helping prospects make the connection between the two.

What’s also true is users often buy what they want not what they need.

This is why it’s so important to ask targeted questions in order that you can accurately determine what their needs are so you can position your software in the most favourable way.

These questions will also tell you how near or far away they are to making a decision.

15. The Rise of SaaS solutions

It seems like everything in the world is now powered online by SaaS Applications. From Netflix and Amazon Prime to LinkedIn and Microsoft M365 we are now surrounded by SaaS solutions of one description or another.

Financially SaaS makes sense as it avoids heavy capital expenditure up front and de-risks the solution.

After all if it doesn’t work you are typically only ever locked in to a maximum of 12 months. Other advantages of SaaS include the way that it is normally quick to deploy and requires no maintenance on the part of the client.

Upgrades are normally delivered automatically, with clients generally being offered guaranteed levels of service.

Backups and data recovery are usually carried out on behalf of the client, so they can focus on what they do best, safe in the knowledge that everything’s being handled by the software developers themselves.

Lockdown has turbo charged SaaS
Remote working was on the rise even before the pandemic, so the fact that SaaS products allow individuals to work and collaborate from anywhere has only served to embed SaaS even deeper in our every day lives.

There are thousands of new products SaaS products being developed in every country around the world so competition is fierce, however, there is no apparent end to the appetite of consumers and business to SaaS solutions.

A coherent sales funnel could be the difference between your product being a viral success and being forced to return to the drawing board.

How to Sell to BIG Companies

How to Sell to Big Companies

Discover how to Find, Kloze and Grow Large Enterprise Accounts

Next FREE session – Tuesday 2nd Feb 2021

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We’ve got all the templates & tools to make it easy for you

How to sell to big companies
How to sell to big companies

How to Sell to Big Companies. In order to sell to big companies you need to first create a shortlist of targets that meet your perfect prospect profile. Next, focus all your sales and marketing resources to research and create a unique sales approach for multiple contacts within the big company you are selling to.

What’s Inside

SESSION 1

The WHO

Introduction to Enterprise Selling

Selecting the right targets

Segmenting your accounts

Mastering the complex sale

Prep for Session 2

Get this session FREE

SESSION 2

The WHAT

The Door Opener

Right content, right contact, right time

How to write persuasive copy

The cadence of big account selling

The profitable, easy to deliver and replicate offer

SESSION 3

The HOW

What to say to Big Companies

How to control the sales conversation

The Contact Plan

Listen & Learn LIVE over the coaches shoulder

Your personal Action Plan

Course Author

How to sell your app to big companies

Iain Swanston

Founder, Klozers

After 35 years in B2B sales Iain just loves solving sales problems.
If you’ve ever attended one of his live events you’ll know, even during the breaks and after the event he always likes talking about sales. Iain is an Author, Speaker & our Lead Sales Coach.
Iain is on a mission to make sales easier for B2B companies and their salespeople.

“In the short time I’ve been working with Klozers I’ve used his guidance to develop positive new sales activities, techniques and a mindset that has significantly helped my sales confidence. As a results I’ve already seen excellent performance benefits that are directly attributable to working to the coaching.”

Alan Wood

Scotland Director

Salesforce Marketing Cloud

“This was my first ever sales training and genuinely still the most pertinent in my sales career. Iain taught us how to take leads through the sales journey from lead to opportunity to closure, I still use these skills today and encourage my colleagues to do the same. My earnings have more than doubled since Iain gave that pertinent training and his latest blogs have been shared internally between our sales and marketing teams as the advice rings true to what we are currently working on as a department”

Lynne Hall

Strategic Accounts Manager

E-On Energy

My coach was really flexible and was happy to talk in between my scheduled coaching slots, especially when I had burning questions and needed support fast. The debriefing calls we had after my sales meetings not only helped me understand where I could improve, they also gave me the right words to say, in the right sequence and at the right time.

Elliott Boll

Enterprise Learning Consultant

Docebo

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How to sell to big companies
How to sell an app to big companies

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you need to sell more now

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Get the coaching you want, when you want it, at your desktop

How to sell to a big company
Remote Sales Coaching – Sales Playbook

“The first session was full of useful and practical sales information. I took so many notes and have come away with exercises I will carry out to help further clarify our approach to sales. I would highly recommend”

Rebecca Pick

Founder

Pick Protection

“Great training session with so much information packed into an hour. Looking forward to completing sessions 2 and 3. “

Max Anderson

Director

SuperBot Experts

Very insightful content from Klozers this afternoon. Thank you Iain Swanston for the invite to attend. This shall be hugely beneficial for our business moving forward and I am looking forward to putting my learning into practice

Laurie Wilson

Regional Sales Manager

CMP Products

Learn How to Sell to Big Companies

If you are new to sales at some stage you will want to learn how to sell to big companies.   It’s common for most ambitious sales people and businesses, yet this can be a challenging or even, a near impossible experience. 

For example, finding the right people to talk with (yes there will also be more than one decision maker) can be like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack, and then trying to coordinate all these decision makers can be like herding cats. 

The longer sales cycles that inevitably arise from having multiple decision makers in a complex sale, then frustrate most sales people as time drags on. 

The large revenues that Enterprise sales can deliver, more often than not, prove so elusive that the salespeople give up and focus on smaller opportunities, they know they can convert. 

However, in some circumstances it can take the same amount of sales resources to convert a small opportunity as it does when selling the same product or service to a big company, so don’t give up just yet.

Learn More, Sell More, Earn More

How to sell your app to a big company
How to sell your app to a big company

How to Sell an Idea to a Big Company

Maybe you don’t have a product or service but instead you have an idea that you want to sell. It’s the sames process and the fact is, it is possible to sell to big companies and large enterprise organisations, although it does need a slightly different approach.

The first FREE 60 minute session in this course walks you through the preparation and planning required before you approach big companies.

When you sell to big companies you may also need some additional sales resources that are not as commonly used when selling to smaller organisations, such as a Business Case, a Cost Benefit Analysis – don’t worry we’ve got templates you can use for all of these.

If this sounds like lots of work, then Yes it is, and because of this many companies will not rely on any one individual, instead they will work as a team to win large accounts. Part of that team should include Marketing in order that you can target the right people in the buying organisation, with the right messaging, at the right time.

Run the sales campaign as a mini project with scope, roles and responsibilities, costings, objectives and milestones. Needless to say that it usually makes sense to be targeting more than one big company if you are going to do this professionally, but don’t make the mistake of having too many, as the campaign can then turn into a marketing initiative which by their very nature are more generic.

The key to success is that all the messaging must be bespoke and relevant to every target which takes time, which is time that you won’t have if you have too many targets. Again this course covers everything you need.

Before you start selling to big companies there are however two important considerations you should address as follows:

1) Does your company have the capability to successfully deliver a project on the scale that a big company will require?
In most cases you will only get one chance to sell to a big company and delivering success for your first big company will also give you a reference point that will help you sell to other big companies.

2) Does your company have the financial resources required to sell to a big company?

If you buy materials in January to create stock for February and have agreed 90 day payment terms this means you have to run 150 days without being paid. Some small businesses are not sufficiently funded to do this, so be careful what you wish for.

Selling to big companies can transform your business, but like most things in life that are worthwhile it’s usually not easy and doesn’t happen overnight, but it certainly can be worth it.

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need to sell more now

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7 Best Practices in Training for Telesales | Training Course

Training for Telesales

1. Training for Telesales

You may remember the ad campaign from Levi “When the world zigs you zag” which encouraged people to be different and draw on the rebellious spirit in them. Well in a world where there seems to be an app for everything it might be time for you to pull out the old fashioned Telephone and make some sales calls.  

Get full details on our Telephone Sales Training Course.

2. Successful Telesales Strategies

Cold Calling might be dead, however, the telephone definitely isn’t.

Many Inside Sales Professionals successfully use the telephone in conjunction with email and Social Media to “connect” first with buyers and then establish relevance to prime the call before picking up the phone.

Recently one of our clients was thrilled to have a buyer call back after we helped compile, one simple introductory email.

This call led to a meeting and 3 months down the line a ÂŁ60,000 contract.

Using the telephone to generate demand is still possible, but we need to be much smarter and much more targeted, than simply working our way through a spreadsheet.

Simply smiling and dialing is not a recipe for success in the modern business world.

Why Sales Training is Important
Training for Telesales

3. Does Cold Calling Work?

  1. 69% of buyers accepted calls from salespeople in the last 12 months.
  1. 71% say they are happy to talk with salespeople when they are looking for ideas to improve business results.
  1. 60% of IT Buyers want a cold-call from salespeople first.

It may not be fashionable, and it may not be your own personal favourite, but nevertheless, it is the world’s number one Sales Tool.

The telephone has been abused, misused and the weapon of choice for some of the worst sales strategies and sales techniques, hence the words Telephone and Sales are now not always popular bed mates.

In many cases Inside Sales teams never receive formal training for telesales and more often than not they are working ad-hoc based on one persons experience.

However:

It is not the fault of Direct Mail we get flooded with junk mail.

It is not the fault of email that people choose to send spam.

It is not the fault of Social Media that people choose to be rude, offensive and keyboard warriors.

Therefore it is not the fault of the telephone that people have made, and most of us have received, some lousy sales calls.

Training for Telesales
Telephone Sales Training

4. Definitions Training for Telesales

Before we go on it’s important to first establish some common ground on the basics of telesales training.

4.1 WHAT IS A COLD CALL?

A Cold Call is when you telephone a complete stranger who is not expecting your call.

4.2 WHAT IS A WARM CALL?

A warm call is when you call a complete stranger who is expecting your call because you may have emailed, or sent something in advance telling them you would call.

The success rate of Warm Calling jumps to 40% with a personal introduction to a buyer and will be anything between 3 and 40% when you send information in advance, but this is largely dependent on what you send and your value proposition.

In some industries, cold calling has an amazing conversion rate but less so in others, so like many other things the context is important.

5. Inside Sales Training

Aaron Ross’s great book Predictable Revenue will help you understand how to set up an Inside Sales team and is a great starting point, however, most of our clients quickly find there are some missing links in the translation from selling American style, to the culture and nuance of the UK.

It doesn’t help that Inside Sales is such a tough job to do and an even tougher one to manage.

Many of us have had more than one negative experience with a cold call where the caller was less than professional and this unfortunately continues, as so few people have the necessary skills to make an effective telephone call or the appetite to learn.

When we Cold Call we run the risk of damaging our brand, and this is where training and coaching have their place.

Modern technology has killed the art of voice communication. Auto-dialers, Text, Instant Messaging and Email are now the preferred form of business communication and for many picking up the phone is the last option. In our personal lives, we are also happy to text or message our family and friends rather than phone.

This is further echoed by younger generations who have moved completely away from voice communication which ironically is often the least used App on the modern telephone.

The way companies buy has changed and evolved over the last 40 years, which has forced us to change the way we communicate and sell. This has cast a question mark over the effectiveness, or lack of it from Cold Calling.

Like everything the best way to get real results from cold calling are by providing effective training for telesales which is then supported by on ongoing coaching and practice.

By practice and repetition we mean making at least 1000 calls to practice and hone your telephone selling skills. Most people, however, don’t want to make 1000 calls, especially when they are learning when each call can quickly turn into a car crash.

Now more than ever, we all seek instant gratification and when we are making cold calls, that very rarely happens.  

6. Marketing vs Telesales

Many marketers will claim that Cold Calling is not the most effective use of your Salespeople’s time and they have the statistics to prove this. Where this falls down, however, is that marketing is reactive which means we have to wait on a prospect finding a blog, a white paper or a video and then hope they respond or contact us.

Sales is a pro-active sport and if there is a C – Level buyer that fits our prospect profile why wouldn’t we call them?

Why would we wait on them finding the content that marketing created?

Marketing should be providing the 80-90% of new leads to the business, however, Cold Calling also has a place; as a high impact, tactical sales tool reserved for targeting high-value prospects.

Training for Telesales

7. Best Practice in Telesales

7.1 SYSTEMS & PROCESS

If you don’t prepare your call list till the day you plan to make your calls you will never make any calls. Preparation needs to be done in advance and don’t be too proud to use scripts. Everyone laughs at the scripted young servers in McDonald’s but multiply the effect of “would you like fries with that” across thousands of sales interactions every hour of every day and the additional revenue this creates is staggering.

If you are unsure what to say you need to first develop your Value Proposition and after that, you can feed this into your opening script. Please note only the opening should be scripted because when you use Consultative Selling, you will be asking questions and the prospects answers will never fit with your script.

7.2 KNOW YOUR NUMBERS

You must keep track of all your activity such as number of calls, number of voicemails, number of times the gatekeeper blocks you, number of time you get to speak with a prospect etc. By week 2 you should know for every x calls you make, you will get one appointment or sale. This will help to motivate you when times are tough. You can download a free copy of our Sales Call Tracker sheet from the Sales Tools section which will provide the basics to get you started.

7.3 MAKE A PLAN

You should develop a call plan with the best times to call, the questions you will ask and the outcomes you want.

  • Cold calling is 70% more successful on a Wednesday
  • Buyers are 16% more likely to answer at 10 am
  • The best talk to listen to ration is 55% to 45% (personally I think this is too much talking)
  • Follow up emails get a 62% open rate
  • Post call emails should be a minimum of 75 and a maximum of 100 words.
Telesales Training Tips
Telesales Training Tips

7.4 PRACTICE

Never practice on your best list of prospects, instead, take the pressure off yourself and practice on people that you have no chance of selling to. Keep your best prospect list ready till you have practiced and have developed your skills.

If you have important callbacks to make in the morning always do 2-3 warm-up calls first, to get you in the zone.

Work out in advance how you will handle sales objections so that you don’t get stuck when the prospect raises any, and they always do.

7.5 EXECUTE

Make your calls consistently and never rush. The goal is normally to set an appointment, not a competition on who makes the most calls. You must choose quality over quantity.

Even if you are trying to sell, do not, because they will smell what we call your sales breath down the telephone and it’s hugely off-putting. Never use features and benefit statements as they remind people of 1970’s car salesmen, instead use intelligent questions to engage them and gather information.

If you are selling “appointments” there is nothing more demoralising for a Salesperson than to attend an appointment arranged by telesales only to find the prospect isn’t a prospect at all. Agree with your colleagues in advance what the prospect must say or do to qualify for an appointment.

No matter how good you are every day people will be rude and even abusive. They are only words and they will never hurt you so never make the mistake of responding to them.

Kill them with kindness, protect your brand and yourself and simply say “Next Please”.

7.6 RECORD & DEBRIEF

Depending on the laws of whatever country you are reading this article in, it may be possible to record your calls. Normally recording is legal if you tell the other person and this happens all the time for inbound calls, however, it will kill your conversion ratio if you have to declare you are recording on an outbound call so only do it if it’s legal.

That said recording your calls and listening back to them is a great way to debrief a call and learn for the next one.

7.7 REPEAT

Repeat, In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, he talks about the need for 10,000 hours of deliberate practice before you can become proficient at anything.

There has been a rush of studies to try and disprove this and you may not need 10,000 hours of telesales practice, but, you will need months to perfect and hone your skills. Repetition is a great trainer.

Back to Table of Contents

8. What Makes Cold Calling Difficult?

Telesales is a difficult job to do consistently and your team will need a good sales manager who is constantly coaching, and supporting them if they are to be successful.

Although many sales staff see telephone selling as the entry level and beginners rung of the sales profession. However, a good Inside sales person is worth their weight in gold.

Types of sales motivation
  1. Cold Calling has an average conversion rate to appointments of 1-3%
  1. Pushy sales tactics deter 84% of buyers
  1. Sales Reps spend 40% of their time looking for sales prospects
  1. 80% of cold calls go to voicemail
  1. A survey by Leap Job claims only 2% of cold calls result in an appointment
  1. A survey by Telenet states in 2007 it took an average of 3.68 attempts to reach a prospect. Today it takes 8 attempts. 

Individual and group places on our courses can be booked by calling the office or filling out the Booking request form

9. Telephone Sales Training

We have been successfully delivering our essential telephone selling skills course since 2014. Delivered by our team of expert trainers, the course covers everything a sales team needs to generate sales leads and improve sales performance across your sales staff.

The telesales courses will help your sales team choose the most likely potential customers to call, the best methods for getting past the gatekeeper and ensure you are talking to the right person. How to build rapport, gain the customer’s interest and how to move them to the next stage of your sales process. How to handle objections and build an effective communication process with potential customers.

Lead generation is an important part of telesales success, however, in most cases you are not selling, but more often, you will need be securing a further call or meeting with other people in the buyers decision making unit and or securing a call back.

Find out how we can help you create more sales opportuntities and win more business with our telesales course now.

Why Non “Salesy” Sales Training for Consultants Works

Sales Training for Consultants

In this article we will cover...

There’s a new way to deliver sales growth…

Don’t buy Sales Training until you’ve watched this video

1. Why Being Salesy Doesn’t Work for Consultants

Being Salesy is forcing your beliefs and opinions on why someone should buy a product or service from you. This rarely works because the approach is very off-putting for the person receiving on the receiving end and in most cases damages the Consultants personal brand in addition to the brand of the business.

Being Salesy clashes with our personal values which are the unwritten rules that guide the way we live and behave. When we are living and acting in congruence with our personal values people are the most productive and the most successful which is why being “salesy” doesn’t work for consultants or anyone else for that matter.

Consultants are not Sales People, they are experts in their chosen field and any sales training should be bespoke and reflect and leverage that expertise.

2. Selling Tips for Consultants Who are Introverts

Roughly one third of the population are introverts which means they are more likely to be uncomfortable around other people whether they are selling or not.

Introverts can make great salespeople as they are usually good listeners, good at building relationships and have high level of self awareness.

There are some practical steps that Consultants who believe themselves to be introverts can take to to help themselves enjoy the experience of selling more.

Sales Training for Consultants

People who are introverts have a “self-as-story”. This self story reinforces negative beliefs such as they are introverted, not good with people and cannot sell.

It’s important to develop a new and believable “self-as-story” with more positive beliefs such as “I am not an introvert I am an Ambivert”.

Ambiverts are the third of the population who sit in the middle between introverts and extroverts.  “I am good with people and I enjoying spending time helping others.”  

Most human beings are by nature kind and well-meaning so this is again a believable statement.  

“My job is not to sell but instead to be of service, help people and create the right conditions for someone to buy; if they want to.” 

3. Sales Training for Consultants

We often are asked to train what we call Non-Selling Professionals in new selling techniques and these are people in a business where the sales function is not their primary role, they could be Consultants, but equally, they could be Lawyers, Engineers, Analysts, Accountants, Developers & Architects etc.

In most cases when we first meet them they proclaim that they could never be a salesperson – the reality is that humility is one of the traits that means that they absolutely could be a great salesperson.

Unfortunately, what’s holding these people back is that the publics’ perception of a salesperson is largely negative and the type of adjectives the public use, when asked to describe a salesperson, are words like “liar”, “selfish”, “talks too much”, “money-grabber” and “annoying”.

The reality is that most salespeople are nothing like this, however, sometimes we pay the price for those that go before us and unfortunately there are, albeit a small number of salespeople, who are like that. If you think about it though, those traits are hardly a recipe for success.

4. How to get sales leads without picking up the phone

After spending years trying to train and coach consultants, engineers and technical people from every different industry, we came to the realisation that nothing we could ever do would motivate them to pick up the phone and make a cold call consistently.

If we showed them how to make a cold call that won them a $1 million dollar order they would still prefer to come in the next day and work at their desktops. These same people, however, would be more than happy to take inbound calls and talk to strangers who had called them.

The answer to the challenge was easy then – get their phones to ring and get their email to ping. If you talk to anyone in B2B marketing they will probably say quite rightly that generating a consistent flow of inbound leads is not easy.

We worked with our own team to develop a new strategy around this and worked to implement this strategy into our own business to prove it works and to gather some good data.

What is this strategy and can it work for me? In simple terms the strategy involves leveraging the knowledge and expertise of the consultants, and position them and their company as SME’ s (Subject Matter Experts). We then help them develop thought leadership content that buyers were interested in.

We then help them take that knowledge and place it on their website in a way that can be easily found and ranked on Page 1 of Google – just the same way you found this article. This then creates a steady stream of self qualified sales leads who have already bought into the expertise of your consultants and keen to engage further.

What’s more unlike pay per click ads these articles create a steady flow of new leads that fuel future growth at no cost. Once the content is published that’s it.

No cold calls, no outbound phone calls of any sort. In fact, in some cases our clients are now closing deals via email.

If this approach interests you and you would like to learn more please contact us for further details.

Back to Table of Contents

5. Training Sessions for Sales Consultants

In most cases sales training for Consultants is delivered over 1 & 2-day courses. This can work however in our experience, Consultants can immediately feel defensive if they are told they need training as they are nearly always mature adults and often have had a negative experience from previous Sales Training programmes they have attended.

The best way around this is to choose sales training for Consultants that is specifically designed for Consultants and content that highlights the skills and experience of the Consultants. The trainer should have experience of training a wide variety of non-selling professionals and be able to address the specific learning styles and needs of this type of audience.

What can be equally productive is running workshops where the Consultants get to choose what they feel would benefit them most. This way they feel more empowered as they have chosen the content and by definition, the content should be more targeted and relevant.

The only drawback to this is that this requires an experienced facilitator/trainer who knows the answers to the Consultants Sales Challenges from memory and can articulate them without a PowerPoint. If the trainer has to stop the session to look up the answers in a textbook or slide deck they will lose all credibility.

These workshops should have defined outcomes with action plans to make sure they are more than just a talking shop and deliver real impact for the Consultants and the company.

Sales Training for Consultants

6. Sales Training Tips for Sales Consultants

Most people have a common misconception that selling is all about closing and forcing people to make decisions that they might not want to make. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth as the most successful salespeople simply don’t do this because they know it doesn’t work and in many cases destroys any trust or relationship that they have with the prospect.

In most cases, traditional Sales Training for Consultants won’t work because the techniques they use go against the Values & Beliefs of the Consultants. No matter how good the trainer is unless the content is based on actions that are congruent with the beliefs and values of the Consultant it will simply be a waste of everyone’s time and money.

What will work however is if the training is designed to position the Consultants as Trusted Advisors to their prospects and the sales activities are aligned with positioning them as Thought Leaders in their Industry.

The following sales tips help Consultants & Non-Selling Professionals understand that Professional Selling is more about building trust and relationships than it is about “Closing” prospects.

To sell more consultants should focus on building TRUST

T = Time
R = Reliability
U = Unselfishness
S = Soundness
T = Truthfulness

Time

Set Goals and manage your own time – be effective, not busy. Be respectful of your clients’ time, turn up on time to meetings, prepare before meetings to get the most from them. Spend time with clients to help them. Focus your time on your best prospects.

Reliability

Get a plan and stick to it, sales plans, communications plans and account plans. Many sales are lost when you are back in your own office. Respond to every email within 24 hours, manage expectations and take ownership of problems and follow up.

Unselfishness

Listen, empathise and give, yes give, as in Emersons Law of Compensation. Stop trying to sell and start trying to help, have conversations, not sales pitches. Recognise when there is no fit and walk away – never force the sale. Pass on referrals and give recommendations.

Soundness

Become an expert in your field. Be the “go-to” person in your industry that people refer others to. Create your own personal development plan and learn as much as you can about yourself, your customers and your customers’ customers. Mentor, coach and help others.

Truthfulness

Be true to yourself. Have those difficult conversations with family, friends, colleagues and customers. Losing some sales, losing some battles will help you win the war. Nurture and grow your integrity, self-respect and self-belief. Be authentic and true to yourself.

These Sales Techniques are not glamorous, and they might not produce an overnight transformation however they do work. Together you will see these five areas form the basis of TRUST. Selling without trust may be possible, but it is extremely hard work and will, without doubt, limit your success. In business, the antithesis of trust is a risk, and every Buyer, every CEO, every organisation will pay more for a solution that is perceived to mitigate risk. Building and sustaining TRUST is the foundation of Mastery in sales, although many of our clients have asked us to help embed these “selling techniques” throughout their organisation, not just sales.

7. Sales Training for Professional Services

Selling Professional Services can be very different from selling as a Consultant because in many cases when you are selling Professional Services the salesperson is the product.


In B2B more so than B2C, buyers rarely purchase anything from a salesperson they don’t like or trust. There are exceptions to this when the Brand Power of the product or service is very strong, for example it doesn’t take the salesperson of the year to sell Microsoft Technical Services because the power of the Microsoft brand has pre-sold most people before they go into the sales meeting and the product is Microsoft, not the Consultant.


For Consultants who do not represent a big brand like Microsoft, Deloitte, or Bain & Co, in most cases they are the brand, they are the product, and they have to work even harder to win the sale.

In many cases what is more productive for Consultants is to stop trying to sell and focus all their energies on trying to help the prospect.

We recommend a Consultative Sales Approach which focuses the sales conversation around 5 critical questions.

  1. What are the symptoms of the business problem?

Prospects find it easier to identify symptoms however it’s the role of the expert to ask questions and dig deeper.

  1. What is the Root Cause of the Problem?

The Consultant should use Root Cause Analysis techniques to identify the underlying causes of the problems.

  1. How is this problem impacting the business?  

These questions should focus on what way the problem limits growth, profits or damage the brand in any way.

  1. Financial Impact

The consultant and the prospect need to do a basic cost-benefit analysis to ensure the client will see a return on any investment they make.  

  1. Personal Impact

Lastly, the Consultant needs to uncover any personal motives or drivers that are important to the client.

Often by simply asking these questions, the Consultant will get the opportunity to position themselves as the expert at the same time building rapport and trust with the prospect. 

consultative selling skills
Sales Training for Consultants

8. Sales Training Courses for Consultants

We have training and coaching courses available to help your consultants overcome their sales challenges.

We deliver our sales training and coaching via our Online Sales gym so we can provide support throughout and after the training period.

This helps you embed the new skills and sales behaviours in your organisation to maximise the impact of our training.

You can learn more about our Sales Training for Consultants via the following articles:

Consultative Sales process here

Consultative Selling Skills Course

Bespoke Sales Training

How to Sell Without Being Pushy
Sales Training for Consultants