An effective sales process boosts conversions, shortens sales cycles, generates more favorable leads, and ensures that all sales reps provide customers with consistent experiences — no matter who they are talking to.
In this blog, we will discuss the best practices that should be incorporated into your sales process.
What is a Sales Process?
A sales process is a structured, step-by-step concrete framework that helps sales teams with the activities they perform to close a deal. The steps generally cover all the stages of the sales pipeline.
Typically, a sales process consists of 5-7 steps: Prospecting, Qualifying, Approach, Presentation, Objection Handling, and Follow-ups.
While most sales teams are familiar with these steps and sales activities, not many teams decide to zero down on a standardized process. Most of the time, it is up to the individual sales rep to determine what steps to take and when.
Most companies think: “As long as my sales team is closing deals frequently and bringing revenue, regardless of how they do it – that’s their own business!”
Yet, the Numbers Don’t Lie
Sales has always been a numbers game. So let’s take a look at the numbers and understand why there needs to be a systematic sales process.
Why can a defined sales process be a boon?
According to 2 different reports by Harvard Business Review (HBR), companies with an effective sales process reported a 15% increase in revenue generated.
The other report suggested that high-performing sales teams employ a more structured sales process. These teams have sales processes that are closely monitored and strictly enforced.
Yet, a whopping 61% of executives admit their sales team doesn’t follow a sales process and aren’t adequately trained in pipeline management strategies and techniques.
So, it’s fair to say that incorporating a few best practices when it comes to a well-defined sales process is highly recommended.
Sales Process: Best Practices to Implement
1. Learn from your Sales Reps
Sometimes the easiest way is the best way to create effective sales strategies. And nobody is more accessible than your own sales team. Go back a few months, analyze the deals you closed, and notice the most important steps in the sales process.
After careful analysis, you will be able to understand:
- The average sales cycle length
- The number of follow-ups required to close a cycle
- The number of leads generated over a given period of time
- Which stage is the most inefficient one, and which one is the most successful
- What type of sales-enablement collateral makes sales smooth sailing, and what collateral didn’t show any promise.
If these details are already available, it’s time you formalize them into your sales process.
2. Visualize and Map Your Customer Journey
The first step to optimizing your sales process is to visualize and map the customer journey. This will allow you to understand how many steps your ideal customers take to convert. On the flip side, it will also help your sales reps negotiating sales deals with your leads and prospects.
By understanding your typical customer’s journey, you can create the right set of sales collateral, improve your pitches, and handle objections better—bolstering your sales process.
Doing this will give you a better understanding of what’s working and what isn’t in your sales strategy. Understanding the actions that cause prospects to move from one stage to the next will help you get rid of the bottlenecks and low-impact activities.
3. Adopt the Customer’s Angle
Often, companies make the mistake of a sales-first approach rather than a customer-first approach.
By focussing on how your customers want to buy products, you can drastically improve your sales processes.
An effective sales process should be adaptable to the various customer needs and different selling situations. Designing a sales process with a customer-first approach entails asking yourself the following:
- Who are my customers? What are my customer cohorts?
- What are the most frequent objections that my customers have?
- What do my customers expect in each sales cycle and what resources do I need to meet them?
4. Leverage Data to Guide your Sales Process
We are in the golden age of marketing and sales. With purely data-driven sales products, it’s no surprise that high-performing teams have incorporated sales intelligence platforms into their sales strategies.
Using data as an anchor to your sales process can help you:
- Understanding the current product needs of your customers (technographic data)
- Understand if the customer has a strong buying intent early into the process.
- Find the right window to cross-sell and up-sell in your sales process.
- Allocate the right resources to your sales team for each stage of the process.
- By providing insights when you are looking to implement changes to your current sales process.
Speaking about making changes to your current sales process, let’s move to our next point.
5. Benchmark your Sales Process
Now that you have leveraged data to drive sales, it is important to benchmark your newfound process.
Think of it as an A/B test, and look for any positive or negative results after implementing your formal sales process. For example, you can compare the number of prospects that got converted in your recent sales cycles with older cycles, or how many deals were stalled in the current cycle vs the previous cycle.
Define critical process metrics and track them religiously to flesh out leakages and funnel blockages, like –
- Which stage of the sales process consumes the most time?
- Which stage saw the most number of drop-offs?
- Which stages are critical and which are a burden?
- How many steps does your average sales cycle require for a favorable win?
6. Implement Periodic Changes to your Sales Process
Your customer’s mindset seldom stays the same. The market is always dynamic and so are your customers’ expectations. Creating a standardized process is a never-ending job and hence you need to monitor every sales cycle every now and then to ensure that it’s still efficient and achieves the revenue targets repeatedly.
Remember the last point, when you do decide on making changes and improving your sales process, always look at the insights and data gathered from your previous sales cycle like:
- Total deals won
- The average lead-to-close window
- The deal-lost reasons
- Average MQLs and SQLs
- Leakage and point of frictions in your sales funnel
- Sales rep performance
- Most common customer objections
A well-defined sales process can help you achieve your goals faster and even help you bring in more revenue as time goes on. Equipped with the knowledge that your process will help you avoid any pitfalls while dealing with your leads and prospects will keep your team motivated as well!
Strong sales processes will help your team:
- Create and maintain long-lasting customer relationships.
- Improve customer lifetime value
- Find more opportunities to up-sell and cross-sell.
- Reduce customer retention cost
- And finally, increase revenue generated from sales
And as we said, maintaining a well-defined sales process is a never-ending challenge, but one that can help you reap long-lasting success.
So before we end this, I’d like to ask you:
Do you have a standardized sales process in your company?
How many steps do you follow? Does having a well-defined process help you win more deals? Did we miss any other practice that you’d let us know?
If you do or loved reading through this, drop us a comment. We’d love to hear from you!