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The Ultimate Guide to Building a Sales Process for Your Business

By December 13, 2018 No Comments

Irrespective of how great the product is or how many millions were made or spent, the primary goal of any business is to increase revenue. And to achieve it, there is a need for a strong sales team within the organization.

The style of selling differs from sales rep to sales rep, but the one common variable they share is a ‘process.’ The sales process is crucial to bring a structure and order into a team of high-functioning salespeople.

So, what is a sales process?

Simply put, a sales process is a set of repeatable, actionable steps that helps convert prospects into customers.

So, how do you go about building one for your business? In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the sales process—right from creating to optimizing—to help you go about getting one for your business.  

Analyze your current sales process

If you’ve customers, it means your sales team has a process in place, but may not be well-documented and structured. So before you go ahead and build a sales process for your team, look at your current sales process, the way your sales rep sell and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Who is my target audience?
  2. How do they find my business?
  3. What are the top-performing touch points?
  4. How many follow-ups are required for a prospect to respond?
  5. What are some of the common sales objections faced by my sales reps?
  6. What are some of the most common reasons for losing deals?

Once you have got the answers to the above questions, you will have an idea on how to structure and create the sales process for your business.

Building the Sales Process

To build a successful sales process, you need to first identify the different stages a customer goes through in the buying process. The number of stages usually differ depending on the business model and the complexity of sale.

So before you go ahead and build one, map out the sale stages that reflect the customer’s buying journey. This will also help your sales reps understand what kind of attention the prospects would require at every stage. However, for most businesses, the sales process consists of seven steps, which are:  

Step 1: Prospecting

Step 2: Qualification

Step 3: Demo

Step 4: Handle Objection

Step 5: Negotiation

Step 6: Close

Step 7: Nurture

Step 1: Prospecting

Prospecting involves identifying your ideal customer profiles (ICP) whose challenges can be solved by your product. They would express interest in your product by either filling out a web form or sending an email. You can also buy a list of leads, attend trade shows and networking events, and collect leads that match your ICP. Once you have the list, do some research about the company and then map out your touchpoints.

For example,

Day 1: Semi-personalized Cold email

Day 3: Cold call

Day 5: Personalized LinkedIn InMail

Day 8: Send a follow-up email

Day 11: Make a follow-up call

Pro Tip: Automate some of the most common emails you send to prospects, such as welcome emails, follow up emails, reminder emails and thank you emails. Create email templates with placeholders and have them sent at a particular date and time to the prospect.

Step 2: Qualification

When a prospect is qualified, it means you have identified and agreed upon the solvable pain point of the prospect. Depending on your product type and industry, you can qualify prospects using techniques like SPIN, ANUM, FAINT, and BANT.

For most businesses, BANT is a common framework that can be adapted according to the use case. BANT is an acronym for:

Budget = Does the company have the budget to purchase the product?

Authority = Does the prospect have the authority to make the purchasing decision?

Need =  What are the challenges, pain points, and business needs?

Timeframe = Do they have a time frame to implement the product?

Pro Tip: Manually qualifying leads can be tiresome and time-consuming. An instant way to qualify leads is by setting up a lead scoring model in your CRM system.

Step 3: Demo

When you are making an online or on-site presentation to the prospect, make sure you address the prospect’s needs and concerns. Tailor your demo according to the prospect’s challenge rather than doing a general overview.

Also, be prepared to answer the myriad of technical and use case-based questions that the prospect may have. If the prospect hasn’t yet signed up for your product, now is a good time to offer a free trial account.

Pro Tip: Mention a few of your customers who have similar pain points and how your product helped them overcome their business challenge. Send them case studies and presentations on how your product can help their business to speed up the decision-making process.  

Step 4: Handling Objections

Objections are part and parcel of the sales process. No sale is made without a certain number of back and forths. It could be about the pricing, lack of functionalities, timing or just a fear of change. The key to successfully handling sales objections is to understand why they’re being raised.

Pro tip: While onboarding new sales reps, prepare a document with the most common objections and their counter arguments so they know what to expect and how to overcome it.

Step 5: Negotiation

The reason why prospects negotiate is because they don’t see the full value your product provides. So before you begin negotiating, get a clear understanding of the customer’s needs and desired benefits. The key to a successful negotiation is to come to an agreement that is a win-win for both sides.

If this is agreed upon, the next step in this stage is to construct the necessary legal and corporate documents which explain the terms and conditions of the partnership.

Step 6: Close

This is the celebration stage. You’ve successfully negotiated the terms and agreed to a deal. The activities in this stage include signing contracts and setting up for the product implementation. Depending on the complexity of the product, there can be on-site implementation or the customer can get started with the product with help from the product support team.

Step 7: Nurture

Nurture emails serve a larger purpose. They help you keep the customer engaged but it also acts as a source of strengthening the relationship with the prospect. In the case of a closed deal, nurture emails can be used to stay in touch with the customer and understand how the product experience is. They can also be used as part of win-back campaigns to nurture lost deals. It is an ideal way to keep the prospect in the loop, with product updates and seasonal offers.

Optimizing the Sales Process

Creating a sales process and implementing is easier compared to improving it. To optimize your existing sales process, you need to carefully analyze the activities you do and the results you get from it. Identify where the problem lies within your sales cycle and tweak it accordingly.

Here are four ways how you can go about optimizing your sales process.

1. Discover the leaky points in your sales funnel

When you have a leak in your sales funnel, leads begin to disappear from it all together. This might happen during the initial stage, where you may have a high number of incoming leads, but they may not get qualified and move onto the next stage.

This could be because of prospecting done wrong. You may not have reached out to the right leads that match your buyer persona. In some cases, you may have a high number of deals in your sales pipeline but the number of won deals may be very low.  There could be a number of reasons why this happened. You need to analyze the deals lost and understand the reason why. There might be a chance some were lost to poor nurturing, in which case, you can double down on nurturing efforts on existing deals.

2. Identify where your sales pipeline has a bottleneck

Rectifying a bottleneck is easy because identifying the point of the bottleneck is easier. A sales pipeline is said to have a bottleneck when leads do not move past a particular stage. Analyze the nature of the bottleneck and see if it was borne of lack of follow-up. SDRs may receive a high number of lead responses and may miss following up on a portion of them. This may cause warm leads to go cold, which means a potential customer is lost. Create and automate your follow-up campaigns so that a lead is never missed out in the response cycle.

3. Update your sales process

Selling methods and tactics differ from person to person, and also depends on the geography they sell in. As your business expands into new geographies, you will have to create a new sales process to match the buyer cycle for each region. Start the process from scratch by creating buyer personas for the new regions. You can try tweaking the outreach process by using Account-Based selling(ABS), which is a highly personalized approach in which you reach out to multiple decision makers in a company using multiple touch points. ABS is most efficient in territories where spam laws are stronger because of which your emails may get routed into the spam folder easily. By personalizing your outreach, you can grab the attention of your prospect and form a better relationship with them.

4. Measure KPIs of the new sales process

Once you’ve optimized your sales process, compare the results. Scrutinize the performance of each stage and make note of the changes you see in the results. By measuring this difference, you can know for certain how the changes made have impacted the process and subsequent results. You can set goals that need to be achieved like an increase in qualified conversions.

Radhi Bhangolai

Author Radhi Bhangolai

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