Building a repeatable, scalable sales process is tough. There's no shortage of diagrams, methodologies, or experts with opinions on exactly how you should be doing things. So where should you start? Right here. We’ve pulled together an introduction to all things “sales process” to help you get started down the road toward defining what your company’s ideal sales process should look like.
What is a sales process? “Sales process” most often refers to a repeatable set of steps your sales team takes with a prospect to move them from early stage to a closed customer.
The common stages of the sales process include:
The process of sourcing new early stage leads to begin a sales process with. Prospecting may involve online research to find net new prospects, or researching into an existing database of contacts.
Initiating contact with those early stage leads to gather information and judge their worthiness for moving forward.
Learning more about a prospect and their company as they progress through the sales process can help sales reps offer a more tailored experience, and improve the likelihood a deal will close.
A typical stage of many sales processes is to run a formal presentation or demonstration of what is being sold. This stage is time-consuming, so it typically comes deeper in the sales process and only for well qualified prospects.
This stage refers to any late stage activities that happen as a deal approaches closing. It varies widely from company to company, and may include things like delivering a quote or proposal, negotiation, achieving the buy-in of decision makers, and other actions.
How to Build a Sales Process
Creating a Sales Process Map
You’re ready to put pen to paper (or, mouse-to-drawing tool) to diagram your own sales process. Where do you begin? Here are a few things to think about as you get started.
Start by observing.
Look back at the last five or 10 deals that closed. What were the major steps in the process? Touch points with the customer? Roughly how long did the entire process take, and how much time elapsed between each step? The more examples you have (and the more people on your team those examples are coming from), the better.
Map your observations to a generic example.
While every sales process is different, chances are the steps you observed align at least somewhat with the common steps outlined above. Your list of steps may be shorter, or may include stages not listed above, but a generic example is often a good starting point.
Define the prospect action that moves them to the next stage.
For each of the stages you define, you’ll want to have a crisp explanation of what causes a prospect to move from one stage to the next. Ideally that reason or cause will be based on the actions of the prospect, not the perception of the sales rep. Yes or no questions or questions with quantifiable answers are best.
Build over time.
Devising your teams’ sales process is a job that never ends. Especially in the weeks and months after your initial research, you’ll want to continue to iterate on your work based on feedback from your team. Over the long run, it’s likely your sales process will evolve as your team finds ways to work more efficiently and move prospects through your pipeline faster.
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