Salespeople often have a certain distaste for strict structures and deadlines. After all, the process is about listening to the needs of a lead. That seems impossible to do if the sales process and methodology are predetermined.
However, developing an in-depth and well-structured sales process has been shown to greatly improve overall company performance*. When compared to companies without a developed sales process, those who have one are likely to outperform competitors by a fair margin.
What is a sales process?
A sales process, or the sales cycle, is a structured and standardized approach used to optimize the performance of sales teams and personnel. It usually involves 5-7 steps that are: Prospecting, Preparation, Approach, Presentation, Handling objections, Closing, and Follow-up. In other words, it’s providing a framework for salespeople to follow.
However, it’s an abstract framework rather than a step-by-step guide. It’s intended to provide big picture steps to the sales process without intruding into the personal approach or scripts salespeople may be using.
In short, it’s a way to provide structure to a mostly hectic process that is sales. Additionally, it provides an easier way to acquire sales performance metrics and talk about possible improvements.
Why do you need a sales process?
There are numerous benefits that having a well-defined sales process brings. Most of these have a direct impact on overall performance:
- Structure. Having a structured approach allows the entire company to track its funnel and potential leads better. Additionally, it provides a foundation for many other benefits.
- Better data. If a sales process is in place, every step becomes measurable, which means accurate data can be collected. Such information can be utilized to derive insights and discover areas for improvement. In turn, the sales process can be then made more effective.
- Easier onboarding. One of the key factors that determine new employee onboarding efficiency are well-structured learning materials. Having clearly defined steps in the sales process allow newcomers to grasp the inner workings of the company a lot quicker.
- Increased revenue. Structure, defined processes, and optimization all point in one direction - more revenue. All of them reduce time and resources wasted on activities that bring little value to the company.
- Accountability. Having a clear process makes it easier to discover areas of improvement in your sales team. Since every step can be measured, managers can understand the struggles a particular team member may be going through. Additionally, it may reveal areas where the entire team might be having trouble.
Finally, there’s an important distinction to be made between the sales process vs sales methodology. These are two related but different concepts that both serve as a way to benchmark efficiency.
While the sales process is the high-level structured approach to the steps taken to convert leads, sales methodology defines how each step is to be performed. Methodology, therefore, is the particular strategies employed during each step of the sales process.
9 steps to build a sales process
The sales process in every company will be slightly different. In fact, copying and pasting the structure from one company to another might not be as beneficial as creating a unique approach to sales.
Even if most sales processes will revolve around similar steps, taking the time to build a unique one for your business will be significantly more beneficial. In order to create a sales process, you should take several steps before presenting results:
- Talk to the sales team. After all, the entire process is being developed to help salespeople do their job better. Finding out what strategies, techniques, and approaches they already employ and what they enjoy doing will go a long way.
- Lean out the process. After talking to the team, there will be a lot to go through. Think through the suggestions and strategies with the use of data (e.g. how well a particular member is performing). Remove everything that seems unnecessary.
- Create a roadmap. Think of the steps each salesperson goes through until the lead becomes a client. Categorize each step into a separate stage. These stages will represent the roadmap for salespeople and will become the foundation of the entire sales process.
- Include the strengths of your personnel. Every sales team is different. Some perform better by sharing lots of details on how they approach sales and their leads. Others prefer to share very little or not at all. Make sure to take into account what your team likes and their strengths.
- Segment the customer base. Take the current client database and think of who made the buying decision. Take into account demographics, needs expressed, and common pain points. Build the sales process around these specificities to ensure you target the buyer personas properly.
- Include relationship-building steps. B2B businesses expect to receive qualified support at all stages of their interactions with a business they are (or consider) buying from. Clients expect that they will receive the necessary support and guidance at all times. Taking time to delve deeper into the business relationship can bring opportunities for upselling and gain vital feedback.
- Ensure leads have all the necessary information. Efficient sales depend on the leads getting to know the product or solution inside-out. SnapCall allows leads to jump into a voice or video call by simply clicking a button on the website or mobile app and acquire every bit of information they need to make the buying decision. Additionally, salespeople can share their screens for a quick demo, allowing them to show the solution in action.
- Implement data. Most B2B businesses have to face the fact that not all leads fit the ideal customer profile (ICP) or are high-quality in general. However, it may take some time to discover which leads are the most promising, resulting in wasted time. Using sales solutions that implement data and ease prospecting improves performance tremendously.
- Automate. Most sales processes revolve around sending out numerous emails, making phone calls, etc. Some of these can be automated such as follow-ups or certain cold email chains. Having automated parts of the sales methodology can reduce the burden for sales teams.
Eventually, the sales process will add up to a multi-step approach that can be easily explained to anyone. Often they can be represented in graphs or visualized to make the sales process easier to understand.
Sales process example
As noted previously, a fully developed sales process will usually be truncated down to several steps. Each of these steps will represent a part of the lead’s journey into becoming a client. We’ll break down a sales process example to provide a better understanding on how to develop a great framework.
Prospecting is the universal step in all sales as it’s essentially a way to develop and find leads. Usually, the process will involve strategies used to find out the most suitable candidates to approach. At this stage, figuring out important details (e.g. who is the decision-maker, what would be the best way to advise them, etc.) is the primary goal.
During the preparation stage, it’s important to figure out whether the product or service offered by the company fits the lead’s needs. Taking pricing, implementation, required features, etc. into account is the way to go.
After that leads should be approached. That is, once the needs, current pain points, and solutions are analyzed, an initial proposition should be made. That proposition should be tailored directly for that customer.
Presentation is where the real pitching begins. As the lead’s needs and desires have been figured out, a solution to his worries can be provided. Of course, that solution would be the product offered. However, the presentation is one of the few steps that can’t be really explained in-depth as its efficiency is highly dependent on the skill of the salesperson.
Handling objections is quite obvious for anyone that has been in sales for quite some time. No one in the B2B sphere buys a solution or product right off the bat without hurling some objections.
Closing and follow-up are the two finishing steps in any sales process. Some companies forego follow-ups or do them very lazily. However, follow-ups are where a lot of upselling or improvements happen.
Building a sales process for the company brings tremendous benefits. In fact, we might even go as far as to say that every company that wants to grow has to implement a structured sales process.
However, the sales process isn’t the end-all-be-all of optimization. Implementing software solutions that help salespeople develop, reduce costs, and improve their day-to-day activities is crucial as well.
Want to find out how you can get the most out of your sales team with software? Check out SnapCall, the solution that allows your customers and leads to hop on a voice or video call with your team directly from your website. Book a demo with us today.