Your roadmap to creating a sales process
Irrespective of business type, company size, industry or product type, there is always a requirement for a strong sales team within an organization. You are done with hiring and have a team of rockstar sales reps waiting on you. The question that triggers your mind is, “what now?” Within the team, selling style may vary from person to person, but a process is mandatory to bring structure and order into a team of high-functioning sales reps. But, what is the sales process? More importantly, do you need one? Find the answers to these questions below.
Why is a sales process essential for your sales team?
A process is important for any team who is willing to understand what happens at various time intervals. Especially in a sales team, there is a need to track different activities like the number of emails sent, the number of calls made, demos scheduled, and meetings completed. Consider sales process as the atomic part of the revenue a team generates. A closer look at the sales process can indicate how and what went right/wrong and caused the increase/decrease in the numbers.
Just mull, is there a need for a sales process to efficiently drive our sales team? If you’re a sales manager handling a team that operates without any process, let me share a scenario. Your team is performing a number of different activities every day, across accounts and deals.
The only metric monitored and tracked is the number of closed deals and their value. There is no clue and understanding of the number of activities performed by the sales rep on a daily basis. The revenue produced by the team is dipping, and no one has a clue as to why this is happening.
Does this sound familiar to you? Then the only answer is yes, the team needs a sales process for their operations.
It is becoming tedious and tough to analyze team performance if there are no activity metrics available. If you want to understand how to make a deal forward, there you require a set process that explains each stage of the sales process. Each sales rep should be accountable for sticking to the defined process and guiding the customer through a sale. Once the process is implemented, it is easier to analyze bottlenecks and understand how each bottleneck could be tackled.
Sales process vs. Sales methodology
The terms sales process and sales methodology are usually used interchangeably, but they are unique sales concepts with key differences.
Steps in the sales process
First step in the sales process is searching for new leads/customers. Then, a list of companies matching a use case is created. The shortlisted companies will have a hidden challenge that can be solved by using the product. An ideal buyer from these shortlisted companies are identified. An internal contact, mostly the decision maker—is contacted to establish a relationship with the company. The first touch point of conversation could be via an email or a call.
At this stage, the sales rep initiates an enquiring call with the prospect to determine their challenges and pain areas. They discuss and try to understand if the product can resolve the prospect’s challenges. Sales reps explain the product features to the prospect that are relevant to their use case, focusing on how it could increase their productivity and revenue.
Once assessed and qualified, the prospect has a potential customer status. The sales executive can then engage them in a POC – Proof of Concept. The POC aims to provide the prospect with an understanding of how the product can be helpful for them to overcome their challenges. This is also an opportunity for the prospect to experiment with the product at their end, using a free trial account for a limited duration. The premium features and benefits of the product may be offered to the customer to help them evaluate the product as a whole.
Negotiations And Objection Handling
Dealing with an objection is an invariant and inseparable part of the sales cycle. Buyers are hesitant and unsure to agree to a product without much protest and need convincing. After using the product, prospects can come back with various objections ranging from concerns over privacy to the pricing of the product. Though objections are a challenge, it can be an indicator of the prospect’s interest in the product. By successfully dealing and negotiating the objections, the prospect is convinced of the value of the product and be willing to invest in it.
Closer to the finale line. This stage includes activities such as – negotiations, the signing of final contracts, implementation, SLAs, customer success, support and pricing. The two business bodies discuss the terms of their partnership and in some cases, the legal teams from both sides have a conversation. Cue a joyful dance from the sales team as the prospect has now become a customer.
Customer success, though rarely done, is the underrated part of a sales process. However, nurturing a customer post-sale could ensure a decrease in churn. With an extraordinary and exceptional customer support, the client may mull and return to purchase a higher plan or even refer the product to a few businesses.
When things do not go well and the customer does not buy the product, sales team can still benefit from nurturing. Introspecting and understanding the reason why the deal fell through; would be an indicator of how to further nurture the prospect. In a few cases, the timing may not be the best— an important project is underway, the budget was already drafted or the decision maker is away on vacation.
These are some factors that are clearly beyond our control. In other ways, they would have been looking for a feature that is not in the product. This, once again, is a difficult situation to be in. This leads to an inevitable Closed Lost business. But all hope is not yet lost. Using email marketing, nurturing the lead could help revive the sales.
How to design a sales process?
Sales processes vary according to the product and industry. Some may focus on customer acquisition while others focus on the retention. That said, the following steps are unchanging across sectors.
Think of past deals and spot patterns
The best place to find the knowledge on designing a sales process is the company’s history. Refer past deals and accounts previously won and spot a pattern there. Identify how a pain areas was leveraged to sell the customer on the absolute need for the product. It is easier to build buyer personas by understanding who bought and exactly why they did it too. Based on the buyer personas, figure out how the sales cycle proceeded and how each bottleneck was overcome.
Establish a conversion funnel
Picture a funnel with water leaking through it. At the top, the wide brim can hold a handful of water droplets, but as it moves through the funnel, the drop drips individually. Same way, the sales funnel starts off with a large number of leads but only qualified leads move down further. For the funnel to make an impression, each part of the funnel must be assigned a unique number.
The top of the funnel must have, say, “A” number of leads. The middle of the funnel must have the qualified leads, ideally “A/2.” The bottom of the funnel should have deals moving to close, “A/4.” Every stage of the sales process should also have numbers associated with it. If a sales executive sends out 100 emails per day, the expected open rate is 25, and the reply rate would be 1. Keeping this in mind, the sales rep has to send out 500 emails per day to receive 5 leads, every day.
Define an action plan for each stage
Every stage of the sales process must have different set of qualifying criteria. This criterion is described by the number of interactions a prospect has with a sales executive and the result of it. In the first step of the sales process, a prospect is converted to a lead when they respond to a call or an email from the sales rep.
The prospect is qualified when their challenge is identified as solvable by the product. Then, move through the next two stages when they engage with the sales rep in a product demo and negotiations of terms. The prospect is converted into a winning customer when they agree to the deal and purchase the product.
How to automate your sales process
It has been observed that most of the sales process is repetitive and monotonous. The activities done by a sales rep is the same across all leads, irrespective of the size of the deal. Each stage in the sales process has a task that can be automated. Prospecting leads, sending cold emails and tracking email are a consistent part of the sales rep’s routine. And that is just the top of the funnel activities.
After a prospect is converted into a lead, the activities are again clockwork. Emails regarding meeting scheduling and confirmation, follow-ups and those explaining the process of the demo or trial account do not require much change. Reports tracking executive metrics and sales pipeline movement can be automated to re-introduce the fun into the sales process.
The ideal and best way to automate these activities would be from within an online CRM; given that all the mandatory required information is already within it. Data regarding customer activity on a web page or task reminders are available within one framework. Sales process and sales pipeline management is made easier and the need for switching between windows of multiple applications is eliminated as all the processes happen within the cloud CRM solutions.
Know what your team is up to
Generating a performance report manually could be painstaking. Imagine if your cloud CRM did it for you. Life at work would be so much simpler. Use the data present within the CRM wisely and generate reports within the CRM software. You could set up for timely reports that gather information on a weekly or monthly basis and presents it to you in a form of graph.
For more unique functions, you can customize reports based on the parameters you wish to track. For example: Track regular metrics like enquiry list, email log report, and sales order report using automated reports. Keep track of deals won or customers in a higher price plan by customizing reports to be generated every month.
Automate daily outreach
A sales executive spends 20% – 21% of their time sending emails to prospective customers. That is valuable time that could be spent interacting with customers. Eliminate typing the same email always by creating a template that could be personalized for each contact. Follow up on the emails by analyzing metrics like open, click and reply from within the CRM and automate actions accordingly.
Use Case: If a customer signs up for an online product demo, an automated welcome email could be the first touch-point. As the customer traverses through the demo, follow up emails could be sent containing information on how to configure the product, describing modules of the product and how to integrate with other apps.
Automate – Everyday Workflow
The sales cycle is a repetitive activity with multiple errands, repeated on a timely basis. Tasks such as follow-up emails, generation of invoice or report are done on a recurring basis. Doing this manually everyday on an endless loop could feel bored to the sales executive. Automating this activity in the form of a workflow for each step of the sales cycle will make their lives easier and smooth.
Prioritize leads and manage them smoothly
With an excess of leads, the top of your sales funnel could be overflowing. As per the definition, these leads are customers who have interacted with the website and product. However, all leads are not the same. A lead who has replied to an email should be higher priority than a lead who just clicked on it. This ranking of leads on the basis of priority is known as lead scoring.
SalesBabu CRM – The perfect Sales CRM for your sales team
An online CRM software records all the interactions between the company and the customer. This is helpful for the sales reps to make correct decisions based on the insightful metrics tracked within the CRM system. Going further, CRM boost customer experience with knowledge of how a customer traverses the product website. Get access to all the data—from call logs, customer emails to deal stages—right inside the CRM and master the sales game.
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