Biz Dev Expert Aleks Bozhinov Shares 11 Key Elements of an Effective Sales Framework

Having a solid sales framework is key to establishing and growing your sales as an early-stage startup. Labs mentor Aleks Bozhinov, business development manager at Crowdholding, hosted a Labs session about gaining traction, avoiding data traps, and the key elements of creating an effective sales framework. Here’s what you need to know about the latter.

1. The opening

When you’re making sales calls and trying to establish the start of a relationship, it’s key to set the tone and the goal early. You want to have a purpose for the call, a plan for the call, and an ideal outcome with a clearly defined agenda. You also need to gather some key information about the potential client, particularly their role within the company you’re trying to sell to, any relevant account information and whether they have any experience using your product or service. Before you dive into questions for the client, you want to make sure you have all of the facts you can gather on your own about the company as well.

2. Effective questions

Before you get on a sales call, you need to do enough research to know what questions you need to ask the potential client. This should include their marketing objectives, key products, their sales cycle and success metrics. With this information in hand, you can ask questions that show you understand their market and competition. And as you’re asking these questions, make sure you’re really listening to the answers you’re getting, not just nodding along. Finally, make sure you ask questions about the client’s financial commitment to your service or product to understand if this is even a viable sale for both sides.

3. Comprehension and summary of needs

This portion of the sales framework is all about showing the potential client that you understand them and what they need from your product or service. Demonstrate that you understand how and why they market their business the way they do, the drivers and goals of their business, summarize the key needs they’ve communicated to you, and confirm the priorities that they’ve also shared with you. Based on all of the information you’ve gathered from your research and your questions, pick the products you want to pitch to them.

4. Solution and pitching

Now that you have an in-depth understanding of what drives their business, their goals, and their priorities, you can pitch specific solutions to the potential client. You want to focus on identifying and establishing links between their marketing goals and your product’s marketing goals, choosing the right tasks to pitch to based on their marketing objectives, and using the correct solution to position and pitch products to them.

5. Matching needs to benefits

You know what the client needs. So you have to match the benefits of your product or service with those needs in a way that allows the client to clearly see the value of what you’re offering. You want to show a clear benefit/value proposition of each product you’re pitching to them and to show it in a way that ensures they understand that they’d gain by using your product. You also need to make sure you’re asking the client whether what you’re pitching to them addresses their wants and needs.

6. Budget and closing

Start by confirming that the client has the budget to implement your product or service. If they do, move forward to getting agreement from them to implement the product or service you’ve pitched to them and review any changes they’ve requested as well as the timeline and process to get your product implemented within their company. Schedule a post-close call to explain the service you’ll be providing to them and decide on how you’ll handle additional contact with them should the need arise.

7. Correctness and product knowledge

Throughout the entire sales process, it’s crucial that you, or whoever on your team is handling the sale, has a knowledge of your product that goes beyond in-depth. They need to describe its use, benefits, and functionality accurately to potential clients, have a deep technical understanding of your product or service, and also be able to speak to competing products when appropriate.

8. Objection handling

Any sale will come with potential objections at some point, and how you handle them can make or break the sale. The smart approach is to acknowledge and empathize with the objection, then ask clarifying questions to get to the root of the client’s concerns. You don’t want to gloss over their worries—you should address them clearly and thoroughly. And don’t assume that just because you’ve addressed one concern that you’re good to go. You should ask the client if you’ve addressed all of their worries. And as much as possible, try to anticipate potential objections so you can propose answers or solutions before the client even has a chance to raise the issue.

9. Tone

Your tone on sales calls and throughout the sales process can create a trusting relationship with a potential client or turn them off immediately. You want to be professional and courteous, using correct grammar when you speak. Try to get a read on how savvy the customer is in relation to your product or service so you know the appropriate level of terminology and jargon to use or to avoid. And remember that you’re not just trying to close a sale—you’re trying to build a relationship.

10. Education

You can tell the client everything there is to know about your product or service, but you should still provide them with additional tools or resources so they can learn more on their own. Don’t just email them a reference guide though—you want to support them as they learn the ins and outs of your system.

11. Administrative/workflow, legal and follow-up

Your work isn’t done once the client has signed a contract and your product or service has been implemented within their company. There are workflow and admin issues to consider as well as legal elements and follow-ups with the client. For follow-ups, check in with them regularly to see how things are going with your product and schedule more in-depth discussions when necessary.

Learn more about sales for early-stages startups.

This post is based on content from a WeWork Labs programming session.

Interested in connecting directly with this mentor? Ask your Labs Manager for help.

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