Process components

Author Richard Gendreau, University of San Francisco

Posted: July 10, 2017

Tagged: Sales process

A simple internet search of the terms “sales process steps” will yield a multitude of sales strategies containing anywhere from four to 11 steps.  While organizations may have different views on what constitutes a successful sales process, this paper will explore a five-step process consisting of prospecting, identifying needs, relationship building, presenting solutions then asking for the sale, and relationship management.

Prospecting requires an extensive amount of research and analysis to find customers whose needs and interests are best served by the seller’s product.  To best identify these customers, Halberstam (2016) wrote, “First, understand the depth, strengths, and shortcomings of the entity you are selling, the geography of the property’s reach and the accounts and decision makers therein.  Think creatively.  Do your homework” (p. 65).  By narrowing down the target audience, salespeople can position themselves to speak to a crowd that is less likely to give an immediate “no”. For example, the Miami Dolphins have moved 80 percent of their marketing budget to social media because they have found content created for Facebook has become one of their best lead generators for new season ticket holders (Ourand, 2017, p. 12).  The Dolphins have released a series of videos that have become very popular and after evaluating likes, comments, and shares, Miami has been able to identify new prospects for season ticket purchases (Ourand, 2017, p. 12)

Cousens, Babiak, and Bradish (2006) wrote that a relationship between two organizations “begins with…conducting a needs assessment prior to the formation of a relationship” (p. 14).  Identifying needs comes from asking probing questions and doing research to determine if the buyer or their competition has had any experience with a product/service similar to the seller’s and determining what, if anything, was successful from their past experience.  CAA Sports had identified that F1’s commercial sales were undervalued and that F1 lacked partnerships in technology and hospitality, areas in which CAA Sports has numerous strategic relationships resulting from a strong presence in the Northern California professional sports markets (Ourand, 2017, p. 3).  CAA’s understanding of F1’s weaknesses allowed them to show how CAA’s strengths would help to increase untapped revenue streams.

After identifying a target audience and determining a prospect’s needs, the seller needs to build a relationship/rapport with the buyer.  Pink (2012) defined attunement as “the ability to bring one’s actions and outlook into harmony with other people and the context you’re in” (p. 68).  This attunement or effective perspective-taking, is essential to building the foundation of a successful relationship.  Part of what made CAA Sports an attractive partnership for F1 is that CAA has the ability and experience to align themselves with different types of organizations.  Ourand (2017) noted that CAA Sports’ Paul Danforth believes that CAA and F1 can work together effectively for a long and grow the sport’s sponsorship sales because, “We’re used to working alongside some organizations that have very little internal support and others that have robust sales teams” (p. 3).

Following all of the prospecting, research, needs identification, and relationship building comes the crucial step of actually presenting solutions that meet the buyer’s needs and asking for the sale.  A successful seller is able to present solutions in a confident and clear manner, which takes practice and even more preparation.  Halberstam (2016) emphasizes the importance of sellers having the key points of a sales presentation deeply ingrained in their minds, more specifically “both the selling qualities of the entity you’re pitching and the solutions you’re proposing to help the corporate target attain its marketing goals” (p. 157).  Although there is an importance to having the main points be almost second nature, a seller must be cognizant of how they are presenting the material.  Pink (2012) suggests sellers practice strategic mimicry by watching, waiting, and waning (p. 86).  Sellers should be aware of how the buyers respond to the information presented (i.e. verbal and/or non-verbal cues), wait to respond to or mimic certain cues, and then over time, be less conscious of the mimicry.  As Pink (2012) notes, “subtle mimicry comes across as a form of flattery, the physical dance of charm itself…and if that kind of flattery doesn’t close a deal, it may just be that the customer isn’t buying” (p. 87).

Relationship management is essential to the sales process both before and after the sale has been completed.  Cousens et al. (2006) wrote, “the processes through which relationships are formed, managed and evaluated are dynamic in nature.  The actual progression of a relationship may involve oscillations between and among the phases as managers continually seek to enhance relationships” (p. 14).  Following-up with customers and evaluating how their needs may have changed, or how seller’s product/service has succeeded or failed in meeting their needs, can result in the gain or loss of future business.  Cousens et al. (2006) noted that under-management of the relationship is where many partnerships fail because “twenty-three percent of the time goes into developing the strategic plan, and only eight percent goes into setting up management systems and maintaining the relationship” (p. 16).  CAA Sports and F1 took three months to negotiate a partnership that is guaranteed until 2018 and although the two sides are expected to renew the deal after 2018, it is incumbent upon CAA Sports to not only perform to expectations, but to ensure that they remain responsive to F1’s changes in needs and/or growth strategies (Ourand, 2017, p. 3).

 

References

Cousens, L., Babiak, K., & Bradish, C. L. (2006).  Beyond sponsorship: Re-framing corporate sport relationships.  Sport Management Review, 9, 1-23.

Halberstam, D. J. (2016).  The fundamentals of sports media and sponsorship sales: Developing new accounts.  USA: Halby Group, Inc.

Ourand, J. (2017, March 27).  Dolphins plow marketing budget into content and get results. SportsBusiness Journal, 19(47), 12.  Retrieved from http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com

Ourand, J. (2017, April 17). CAA Sports wins race for F1 agency deal.  SportsBusiness Journal, 20(1), 3.  Retrieved from http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com

Pink, D. H. (2012).  To sell is human.  New York: Riverhead Books.

About Richard Gendreau, University of San Francisco

Richard Gendreau graduated from the George Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice in 2003 and is currently in the Sport Management graduate program at the University of San Francisco. Following his graduation from GWU, Richard served as a police officer and field training officer with the Garden Grove Police Department.  Now retired, Richard is pursuing a career in sales and marketing in his favorite sport, golf. This is an edited version of a paper prepared for Dr. Michael M. Goldman’s Business Development and Sales in Sport class at the University of San Francisco.

IImage by @f1, "A race, a beverage and a catch-up. Everyone loves an F1 Sunday," www.instagram.com/p/BWVmoGjlquh/?taken-by=f1