While selling styles may vary from sales representative to sales representative, they should stem from the same process within an organization. Your sales process. This process is a guideline based on your most successful deals and experience. It helps your sales team replicate these successful deals, i.e., be as effective as they can.
According to a TAS Group Dealmaker Index Study, sales representatives who understand and sell according to a sales process are 72% more likely to achieve their targets. Moreover, VP performance research shows that companies utilizing a sales process experience 18% more revenue growth.
The few reasons above should already be enough to make you leave everything and start drafting a sales process. But if they’re not, also remember that the sales process makes your sales representatives professionals. Not only do they know their sales roadmap, but they will also see every deal through their customers’ eyes and will always be ready to guide them through the process.
A sales process is a set of steps your sales representatives and their prospects need to take to close a business successfully. It helps them control the ongoing business. However, despite the common belief, sales process stages aren’t “1st Call”, “2nd Call”, “Meeting”, “Proposal Sent”, etc., as that won’t make anyone control anything, or even tell them where they and their prospect are in the process.
Having many meetings and calls doesn’t have to move you anywhere in your sales process. Contrary, having one successful meeting can move you further up by several stages. It’s about the sales milestones that actually impact the hopefully soon-to-be-closed deal. Therefore, the whole sales process can happen in one month - on several meetings and calls, or in 12 months - with countless meetings and calls.
You’ll find many tips on the internet, and the information mostly overlaps. You’ll probably see these stages:
and many others
Still, it’s your business, and no businesses are the same, so feel free to adjust the individual stages (numbers and names) to your needs. This one is ours:
initial discovery, finding the mutual interest, having first meetings, getting to know each other
more profound analysis of the need, getting to know how clients operate
ROI calculation, discussions with stakeholders, value validation
SLA, negotiations, confirmations
contracts, purchase orders, invoice paid, the solution delivered
It is going to be a little bit easier for companies who have closed good deals. That’s their source of inspiration for the sales process. Sit with your sales team, take the best deal you’ve had, and list all the things that needed to happen on both sides (yours and the customer’s) - had to identify and talk to stakeholders, discover pain, do POC, etc., before you made the deal.
Put them into logical stages, such as in the picture above. These are now your sales process milestones. Never include gut feelings and assumptions.
All stages, steps, and milestones in your sales process must be based on data. Easiest, you’ll find the data in your CRM reporting section.
To move from one milestone to the next, ALL THE STEPS in it need to be checked. After all, it’s a process; it should be followed. So take the steps as necessary conditions for moving further. Your goal is to move it as fast as possible through the sales process all the way to closing the deal.
It’s not just about what you need to proceed further. It’s an exchange of requirements. The customers might not say it (immediately), but to decide, they’ll need you to:
understand their struggle
present a solution
statistics, POCs, other customer success stories
not waste their time
pay a lot of attention to detail, etc.
If you’re in sales, these are mostly no-brainers. So when you’re designing the sales process, consider both sides and add these points into it; you’ll get your sales representatives ready for seemingly “unexpected” requests and make them proactive, so you’ll also reach great effectivity.
A sales playbook is a resource tool. Sometimes, the topics can be very similar to those in a sales process. Still, a playbook’s primary goal is to provide education on day-to-day sales duties, such as doing an introductory meeting, making a cold call, creating a call script, doing a product demo, negotiating, etc.
It is a great companion to your sales process, especially when onboarding a newbie. It’ll undoubtedly speed up the learning process. However, it’s neither your nor the customer’s journey through a business deal.
That’s what a sales process is all about.
From now on, each sales representative will use this “roadmap” anytime from the first talk with a prospect to closing the deal. The prospects often have no experience implementing a similar solution, while your sales representatives have done it many times.
A well-structured sales process will make your sales representatives proactive. They should be able to instruct the prospects about what they need to do at certain points, like explaining the ROI to the board, communicating with the procurement team, etc., in advance to smoothen the buying process.
A sales process is a neverending story - as your company matures, the product and customers are changing. Therefore, keep adjusting your sales process to the current situation. If you think there’s something new missing, add it! If you feel like there are some unnecessary steps and still manage to close the deal without them, delete them.
If you don’t have a CRM yet, we strongly recommend getting one. You need to match your CRM stages with the sales process stages. Then, as the business moves forward, the opportunity copies it in the sales pipeline. This will allow for maximum clarity and transparency for your sales reviews. Also, make it an office decor; print it out and tape it to the wall, so it’s right in front of your sales team’s eyes when they drink their morning coffee.
have proof that opportunity is rightfully at a particular stage - both for you as the manager and for the team (remember, no gut feelings). These can be notes, emails, meeting minutes in your CRM
always have the next steps planned - next steps with a notification and an assignee. It’s one of the essential sales habits. Simply to pay attention to opportunities
go through all the opportunities before sales review meetings with the manager - matching opportunities again to the particular milestones they’re at. Do the sales representatives see a reason they should not be on the stage? Do they see any threats or weak spots? This preparation provides a great starting point to the sales review meeting as they are not about making notes in your CRM. They should be about them challenging their own opportunities and coming up with actions to move their deals forward.
Having a sales process increases transparency in your sales team pipelines. That’s great for many obvious reasons, like regular sales review meetings. Both sales managers and their sales representatives will always see how the individual opportunities look and move.
Therefore, no more gut feelings statements from your team,
such as: “I am sure they’ll buy it. They liked it.” “I believe they liked the presentation. They’ll get back to me in 2 days.”
Instead, you want to hear this:“I met the HR manager, Anna. The HR department wants a more robust onboarding feature. They’ve already tried solutions A and B, but they are missing the crucial XYZ features. Anna is losing the new employee in the onboarding process, and that already cost them xxx this year. They need it asap and can implement a new solution in March. Anna especially likes the preboarding feature; they’ve never done it before. However, it’s her manager, Dana, who will have the final say.”
No more gut feelings when moving deals further in the sales pipeline. Your sales representatives either know all the required fields for moving to another stage or not. There’s nothing in between. “The customer is happy” or “I believe they will buy it in April” can’t be a part of your sales review discussions anymore. Instead, you should now hear “The customer confirmed the purchase. They’ll buy it on the 14th of August.”
A well-structured sales process will also help you to:
1) Improve your sales
A process can be measured; therefore, it can give you data. Your sales process data will help identify and remove bottlenecks. It shifts your focus to what is important and guides your sales representatives through the process, so they don’t waste their time on unnecessary tasks.
2) Predict your sales
Collected data helps managers see the closing possibilities of the sales department and set more realistic targets. Having opportunities on the right sales process milestones, with a set close date, sum, and probability of closing helps them with sales predictions.
3) Onboard new sales representatives quickly
Well-structured materials are simply easier to comprehend. Since it’s a process, now, even senior colleagues can deliver this training to a newbie! This provides space on the managers’ side while the seniors are doing a great mental exercise by going through the sales process over and over again.
4) Communicate better
A standardized sales process means a standardized language. Collaboration between colleagues becomes more effective, and so are your sales reviews or any sales updates conversations.
5) Provide great customer experience
If you truly think of your potential customers when creating the sales process, you’re a professional. Each step should build trust - customers value it highly! Progressing stage by stage while instructing your potential customer will ensure that you don’t push them while they’re not ready.
Remember that your sales process should be milestone-based.
Although the activities inside are important, they won’t tell you how far or close you are to closing a deal. Get your team together, get inspired by the great deals you’ve historically made, and put your (new) sales process together.
Don’t expect it to be perfect immediately; the process will need many rounds of iterations. Demand your team follows it consistently and implement it in your CRM.
Collect data and work on the ideal sales process constantly.
Real business opportunities often come from qualification meetings. This chapter describes the ideal scenario for these.READ NOW