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Imagine that you are a business owner and a fitness enthusiast who wants to open a brand new gym in your hometown. As you start building the facility and preparing for opening day, you want to gauge the public’s interest level while also generating a little excitement. So you decide to begin the pre-sales process.
Souping up the presales engine can yield a five-point improvement in conversion rates, a 6–13% improvement in revenue, and a 10–20% improvement in the speed of moving prospects through the sales process.Homayoun Hatami, Candace Lun Plotkin, and Saurabh Mishra
Rather than just opening the gym and starting off at zero, you decide to open up a pre-sales office during construction. Potential customers can view a 3D model of what the gym will look like and test out some promo equipment. Some may even sign up as customers at a discounted rate. This is what is known as a pre-sales process and it is an important step for your business, regardless of what industry you are in.
What is a Pre-Sales Process?
The pre-sales process is the set of activities that is carried out before the customer has been acquired. This article will explain the pre-sales process and how you can use it in your own business. It will also examine why it is important for the pre-sales and sales teams to work together.
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Business owners are constantly looking for new ways to scale their business but they often overlook the pre-sales process. This is a mistake because according to this article in the Harvard Business Review, companies that have strong pre-selling objectives achieve 40–50% of the new business and 80–90% of repeat business. These numbers are far above average rates and demonstrate how important the pre-sales process is.
The pre-sales process is the specific set of activities that lead up to winning a new contract or acquiring a new customer. Companies generally have a pre-sales team in place which is sometimes referred to as sales support.
The pre-sales team handles a lot of the implementation of the sale and occasionally handles the follow-up as well. The pre-sales process can usually be broken down into two different sets of activities: planning and preparing. These activities involve developing methods or strategies and can include things like:
- Product research
- Researching your industry or the competition
- Evaluating your products or services in relation to your competition
- Creating strategy calls
When carried out strategically, these two activities can have twice as much impact on generating revenue as finding new leads.
The Harvard Business Review also found that even though an effective pre-sales strategy can improve conversion rates by five points, pre-sales still tends to get little attention from upper management.
How to Use the Pre-Sales Process
The pre-sales process begins when the initial contact is made with the prospect. In a sales cycle, the typical steps you would go through are:
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Anyway ... we'll continue from where we left off above.
- Finding and initiating contacts with prospects
- Identify the prospect’s needs
- Make an offer
- Manage objections
- Close the sale
- Ask for referrals
A salesperson is responsible for networking and initiating contact with prospects, setting up customer meetings, and sending proposals. And most importantly, a salesperson is responsible for closing the sale. Salespeople will usually have a personal quota they have to meet every month.
Ideally, the pre-sales process and the sales cycle should work together. Here is how the pre-sales process can help you as you begin moving through every step of the sales cycle:
Finding New Leads
Thanks to advances in technology, a salesperson now has more opportunities to find new prospects than ever. However, this doesn’t mean all of those prospects are worth pursuing. Before the sales team begins working with a new prospect, pre-sales will qualify the opportunity to make sure it is worth the company’s time and resources to pursue.
Initial Contact with Leads
Once the lead is qualified, the pre-sales team is responsible for figuring out what problem the customer needs solving. This will help you build rapport with your potential customers and help them begin to believe that you are able to deliver on what you are offering.
Presenting the Proposal
The pre-sales team is responsible for putting together a proposal that will summarize the service being provided to the customer and what resources will be used to deliver that service. The pre-sales and the sales teams should be in agreement on the terms outlined in the proposal. Once it is finalized, the salesperson will deliver it to the customer.
In spite of what its name might imply, the pre-sales process does not end once the customer has been acquired. The pre-sales department is also responsible for the technical aspects of finding solutions to the customer’s problems. This can be things like timekeeping, responding to unhappy customers, or knowing how to engage with the customer.
This is important because customer retention is a key aspect of growing any business. According to the Gartner Group, 80 percent of a company’s future revenue will come from 20 percent of its existing customers.
The pre-sales process is important to finding, winning, and keeping customers. The job of the pre-sales department begins when the first contact is made with a new prospect and usually ends once the sale is acquired. Occasionally, pre-sales will provide transitional help once the sale has been finalized.
So what is the difference between companies who are successful in closing sales and those that aren’t? Often, when companies frequently fail to close the deal it is because the pre-sales and sales departments are not effectively working together.
According to this article, for the pre-sales and sales departments to work together, both teams must have a level of mutual respect. They also must have a good understanding of the sales process and understand what their individual roles are in the process. They need to have a blueprint for how to navigate complex sales and have a clear understanding of what the customer needs.
When the pre-sales and sales teams can work together, they can clearly articulate to the customer how they are able to help them. The customer will understand why they need the product or service and the sale is made.
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