Does your professional services firm have a documented sales process? High growth firms have clearly defined sales processes that have been optimized by iterating based on feedback from customers. While most elements of the sales process are customized for each customer, the basic outlines of what should happen and when are defined and documented. In this post, rather than focusing on the details of each step of the process, we will focus on how to manage your professional services sales process with the HubSpot CRM.
Characteristics of the professional services sales process
Most professional services sales processes require multiple interactions with the buyer before a buying decision is made. After all, the buyer is trusting the professional services firm to manage an important aspect of his business and wants to make sure your trustworthy and up to the task. Professional services sales generally involve higher customer lifetime values and relatively low deal volumes.
A good professional services sales process will have multiple lead generation channels including:
- Inbound marketing
- Referral selling
- Email/Social Prospecting
We manage our professional service sales process using HubSpot inbound marketing software, the HubSpot CRM and Sidekick for Business.
Define your deal stages
When you have a sales opportunity, you follow a process to qualify the opportunity and work it through until you either win or lose the business. In almost every case, you will need to qualify the opportunity for fit to your target profile, budget, need, timing and other criteria that will help you determine if the opportunity is real. Although there are many steps leading up to this point, this is where the deal stages start.
The process continues from qualification to include meetings, presentations, commitments and processes that need to take place before the deal closes. It will vary for every firm, but there is always a process that needs to be completed before a deal is either won or lost. In defining your sales process. Start by sketching out the typical process you go through to get new business.
Then add the percentage probability of closing the deal at each stage of your sales process. As you assign revenue values to each deal, you calculate your sales pipeline by multipying revenue by the percentage probability of closing. It won't be perfect, but you will optimize the process over time and get more accurate revenue pipeline projections.
Keep in mind that you'll probably have multiple sales processes - the process for an inbound lead is far different than that for a referral sale.
This can all be automated in the free HubSpot CRM. Here's a simple deal process in HubSpot.
Craft consistent messaging
While every message you communicate to prospects and customers should be customized to reflect the unique situation, you should have consistency for each type of message. For example, if a prospect schedules a consultation via your website, you should have a standard email that:
- Communicates what the prospect should expect from the consultation
- Asks what the prospect would like to get out of the consultation
- Provides logistical information such as scheduling, web conference invitations and anything else to prepare the prospect for a good experience
We create templates in Sidekick for Business to create consistent messaging for every communication in our sales process, from prospecting to meeting follow-up to service delivery. The HubSpot CRM stores emails in the contact's record, so you have quick access to her history when you're speaking with her.
Templates are just that - they are guides that need to be modified for each individual situation. But they include the pertinent messaging that we use in our sales process and don't require a wheel re-invention every time a particular situation arises. Messaging is a big part of your brand and consistent presentation of a great message will drive sales.
Here's a sample of a template we use when email prospecting insurance brokers.
Managing inbound leads
Inbound leads are great - your content serves as a sales team, bringing in leads that are often well into a buying process. The Corporate Executive Board found that the average buyer completes 57% of her sales process before ever contacting a salesperson.
HubSpot inbound marketing software lets you qualify leads using marketing automation. By using demographic and behavioral data gathered in the lead generation process, you can perform a first-cut qualification. In our company, we define a marketing qualified lead based on industry, size and other characteristics of the individual.
Once we have defined marketing qualified leads, we apply human judgement to the data to create a sales qualified lead. The salesperson reviews data from social profiles, websites and interaction with your marketing process to decide to pursue or not.
In the HubSpot marketing software, we have a workflow to identify marketing qualified leads. When the salesperson reviews leads, we choose a screen view of marketing qualified leads for the salesperson to review. She then sets a task, sends an email or makes a call, depending on the situation. The salesperson can quickly switch to the task view to see what needs to be done to turn prospects into sales opportunities.
Many professional services firms have grown through referrals based on the great work they've done for clients. Unfortunately, relying on referrals isn't a scalable or repeatable process. By incorporating inbound lead generation channels and email prospecting, you can have a diversified revenue generation process for you professional services firms. Using sales technology to manage the process takes things to the next level. Want to learn how you can optimize and automate your professional services sales process? Schedule a free consultation.