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Sales Process: A Guide to Improving Sales Performance

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    Efficient and consistent sales efforts provide great results. Such efforts are possible only when there is a clear process for selling. However, if your business lacks a well-defined process, sales teams may operate aimlessly, and sometimes, disorderly, resulting in missed opportunities. What’s more, not having a proper sales process can cause inconsistent results. All this can lead to wasted time that your business can’t afford.  

    The right approach is to adopt effectiveness in sales efforts by following a structured process for sales. This will provide clarity and purpose to the sales teams and they will know the steps to take at each stage of the journey. More importantly, a process-driven approach to sales helps salespeople interact with prospects and customers with more confidence.  

    In addition, a well-designed process for sales is also essential for enhancing the customer experience and gaining a competitive edge in the market. It will also help you identify areas for improvement, track the performance of your sales teams, and optimize your sales efforts over time, resulting in improved revenue growth.

    In this blog, we will explore the sales framework in detail, and also shed light on various aspects of it, including its stages, mapping, process, and examples. 

    But first, let’s start by understanding the definition… 

    What is a Sales Process? 

    A sales process is a series of steps that a salesperson takes to move a prospect from an early-stage lead to a paying customer. It’s a systematic approach to identifying, qualifying, and closing a deal with a potential customer. Selling becomes easy and hassle-free when it’s done using this process.  

    what_is_a_sales_process

    A robust process for selling works as a framework for salespeople to follow and consistently close deals through standardized steps. A well-developed sales process may typically involve different steps such as prospecting, lead qualification, needs evaluation, objection handling, negotiation, and closing. 

    While the ultimate goal of the sales process is to drive successful sales, it also exists to effectively guide customers through their buying journey by addressing their needs. When this process is used, sales teams feel more inspired and motivated, resulting in better sales and revenue for the business.  

    Why Build a Sales Process? 

    The sales process acts as a roadmap for a successful sales engagement. It can provide sales teams with the direction and structure they need to engage and convert leads into closed customers. When there is a proper process for sales, it leads to consistency in efforts. 

    Here are some of the key reasons for building a process for selling – 

    • Maintaining Consistency in Engaging with Prospects – Sales outcome is improved when every member of the team follows a structured approach to engaging with prospects. This consistency is vital for maintaining uniformity in messaging and engagement, resulting in better overall sales performance.  
    • Streamlining Workflows and Minimizing Wasted Efforts – When there is a defined sales process in place, sales teams can prioritize efforts and focus more on the important tasks. This can reduce wasted efforts and increase productivity, leading to successful outcomes.

    why_build_a_sales_process_

    • Optimizing Sales Strategies and Boosting Performance – Sales activities and outcomes can easily be measured and analyzed when there exists a well-designed framework for the same. This can also help businesses identify areas for improvement and optimize their sales strategies. 
    • Ensuring a More Personalized Experience for Prospects – Using a sales framework can help teams better understand customer needs at each stage of the buying journey. This understanding can contribute to a tailored approach where businesses can provide a more personalized experience and achieve higher customer loyalty. 
    • Achieving Scalability and Adaptability Over Time – When the process for sales is well-defined and structured, it can provide scalability as the business grows. Using the same process, it’s possible to achieve consistent results even as the business grows and adapts to changes in the market and customer preferences. 

    Sales Process Steps

    Sales process steps work as an outline for what teams should be doing to find potential customers and close sales. These steps offer a general framework for the sales process and a business can customize them to fit their and the target audience’s specific needs. 

    Let’s look at the steps involved in a typical process for sales: 

    Step 1 – Prospecting 

    Prospecting is the first step in the sales system. In this stage, your business will identify and find potential customers who are interested in your products or services. You will determine whether potential customers need what you offer and whether they can afford that. 

    During the stage of prospecting, you will source new, early-stage leads by utilizing various sales strategies and activities. Some of the effective prospecting methods you should leverage include cold calling, cold emailing, networking, and leveraging social media

    Step 2 – Qualification 

    You have identified the leads and now in this stage, you need to qualify them to determine if they are the right match for your products or services. The goal of the qualification step is to ensure the leads you have identified meet certain criteria. 

    Based on that, you will understand how likely are they to become customers. So, in this stage, you will assess various factors such as the need, budget, authority, and timeline for qualification purposes. 

    Sales teams need to assess 4 important things – 

    • Whether the prospect has a genuine need for your offer
    • Whether the prospect has the budget for making a purchase
    • Whether the prospect has the authority to purchase decisions 
    • Whether the prospect has a timeline for the purchase  

    Step 3 – Engagement  

    Now when the prospects are identified and qualified, what next? Well, the next step is to engage with qualified leads and know their goals and needs better. In this stage, the main focus is to engage with the leads and understand the specific challenges. 

    When engaging with prospects, salespeople need to focus on three key things – 

    • Actively listen to leads 
    • Ask questions to dig deep into the needs 
    • Empathize with the prospect’s situation 

    The engagement stage is very essential for uncovering the pain points of your potential leads and determining how your products or services can solve those pain points or add value.   

    Step 4 – Presentation

    What should salespeople do when they have identified the needs of prospects? They should immediately present the solution. This is why the presentation stage holds big significance for sales teams as it’s when they highlight the features and benefits of their offers. 

    In this stage, the sales team could present the solution to potential customers in many forms, including –  

    • Product demo
    • Case Studies 
    • Personalized presentations 

    The presentation stage is when you show your leads how you can address their needs. You also prepare and present the offer/s in a way that resonates with potential customers’ unique challenges and needs. 

    sales_process_steps 

    Step 5 – Handling Objections

    The sales cycle is never as smooth as it appears on the surface. It is fraught with unique risks and challenges. Having said that, there may be objections or concerns raised by prospects that your sales team should be ready to handle.  

    To handle objections, make sure your sales team follows the steps below – 

    • Provide as much information as possible to educate, inform, and enlighten your leads 
    • Approach the objections with a sense of empathy toward prospects 
    • Ensure as much assurance, and re-assurance, so that the objections are overcome  

    At the same time, there has to be a strategic approach to handling objections raised during the sales process. Make sure your team –   

    • Actively and attentively listens to the concerns 
    • Becomes aware of the root cause of the problem 
    • Offers relevant information to handle the objections 

    Step 6 – Negotiation 

    Now the process for sales reaches the negotiation stage. Here, both the involved parties – your business and the prospects – will discuss terms, pricing, and other details of the sale. In this stage, both parties will work on finding common ground to reach a mutually rewarding agreement. 

    Step 7 – Closing  

    The closing stage is when the prospects ultimately convert and the deal is done. In this stage, the prospect makes a purchase or commits to the same. Contract signing and payment processing are two key elements of this step. By the time prospects reach this stage, they give signals along the way that salespeople need to recognize and work on converting the leads into a customer.  

    Step 8 –  Follow-Up 

    A sales cycle never concludes only when the purchase is done. Rather, it also extends beyond that and continues with the following up with the customer. Make sure you do the same to provide support, address any post-purchase issues, and explore adding opportunities for sales.

    Stages of Sales Process: Key Stats  

    • 40% of salespeople find prospecting the most challenging aspect of a sales process. ( Source – Salesmate.io)   
    • 67% of sales are lost due to sales reps not properly qualifying their potential customers. ( Source – Business2Community.Com
    • Understanding customer pain points is key because 68% of them are ready to pay more for a better experience. ( Source – SuperOffice.Com
    • 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up call. ( Source – Invespcro.Com

    stats_on_sales_process

    How to Improve Your Sales Process? 

    An improved sales process can ensure more deals. It can also add efficiency to your entire sales process, resulting in revenue growth. However, you need to adopt a systematic approach if you want to improve your sales process and achieve better results. 

    Here is a step-by-step guide to improving your process for selling – 

    1. Evaluate Your Current Process

    The best way to improve your sales process is by evaluating your existing one. It will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of the current process, and also areas for improvement. You must gain detailed insights into the areas where the sales process may be faltering.   

    It’s equally important to review metrics such as the sales cycle and conversion rates as they are essential to understanding where the process is going wrong. If any sales metric is not up to the mark, you can immediately know the issues and then take steps to sort them out.   

    2. Define Your Key Performance Indicators (KPI) 

    Defining your key performance indicators (KPIs) is vital for improving the sales process. You should quickly identify the specific metrics that affect your sales goals and that align with your business objectives. Whether you want to track conversion rates, average deal size, or acquisition cost, you need to set clear targets for each KPI and offer a clear direction to your sales team. 

    You also need to track and analyze these metrics regularly and measure performance. When you focus on the right KPIs and set quantifiable goals, it helps you monitor sales progress accurately. You can also make data-driven decisions and optimize the sales process.  

    3. Map Out the Sales Journey 

    Mapping out the sales journey is a crucial step in improving the sales process. When you map out the sales journey, you create a detailed roadmap and outline each stage involved in that. You draw out each step, from the awareness to the final purchase, to understand the issues prospects may face. 

    When you have mapped out the sales journey, it can prepare your sales team better to engage with customers at the right time through personalized messages. The mapping is also essential for identifying gaps in the sales process. Based on that, the sales team can implement targeted strategies and increase the chances of conversions. 

    how_to_improve_your_sales_process_

    4. Use Technology to Simplify Monitoring

    Your sales cycle can only improve when you use technology to track customer interactions and engagement. The focus should be on implementing customer relationship management (CRM) software to streamline and centralize data collection and management. It will also help in tracking all sales activities and leads efficiently, bringing you real-time insights into sales performance. 

    There are other aspects as well to using technology to simplify monitoring: 

    • Consider integrating sales automation tools into your process 
    • Automate repetitive tasks such as lead nurturing and email follow-ups 

    5. Start Forecasting Your Sales

    You need to forecast your sales if you want to refine and enhance the sales process. The main goal is to predict future sales performance by analyzing historical data and current trends. You can leverage forecasting techniques to anticipate market conditions over time, challenges for sales, and opportunities for growth. Based on sales forecasting, you can gain valuable insights into revenue projections, resulting in setting strategic plans and realistic targets. 

    With forecasting, your sales teams can – 

    • Align their efforts with broader business objectives
    • Adjust sales strategies in tune with future projections 
    • Achieve benchmarking to measure and evaluate sales performance 

    6. Gather Feedback and Iterate

    To improve the sales framework, you need to know what’s working well and what you can improve further. This can be done only when you get feedback from all stakeholders and use the insights for improvement. You can use the feedback and refine your sales process over time. 

    While gathering feedback is essential, you should also ensure that the process adapts to changing market dynamics and specific business goals. Make sure your sales goals are aligned with your business objectives and offer a clear direction for your teams to follow. 

    Sales Process Mapping 

    Sales process mapping is a strategic approach to creating a detailed visual representation of the sales process. It’s performed to make the sales process easier to follow for teams. Mapping also helps make the sales process less abstract.  

    Key things you should know about Sales Process Mapping – 

    • The formats and structures used for mapping the sales process may vary from organization to organization. 
    • Simple flow chat, engaging infographic and detailed written guide are some of the ways to create a map for the sales process.
    • The degree of detail used in the map can also vary, ranging from a focused to a holistic overview of the sales processes.  

    Irrespective of the structure and detailing used, sales process mapping is a useful practice to guide your sales team. Such maps can contain deep fundamentals and concepts of your sales process which teams can use as a reference point and refine their sales skills.  

    How to Map Your Sales Process?  

    Sales process mapping is a very effective tool to detail and understand the steps involved in the sales cycle. From lead generation to closing a deal, the map lays out every step and gives detailed insights into areas for improvement. 

    Let’s look at how to do map your sales framework – 

    1st Step – Identify the Key Stages in Your Sales Process 

    It’s the first step where you need to identify all the key stages in your sales pipeline. Whether your sales process has five, six, seven, or eight stages, identify them and list them down. 

    2nd Step – Map Out the Flow of the Sales Process 

    Once the stages are identified, you need to determine their sequence, and also how your leads are guided to the next stage.  

    3rd Step – List the Tasks within Each Stage 

    Each of the steps of your sales journey may have various activities. So, create a list of them and mention all of them. 

    4th Step – Mention the Person Responsible For Each Task 

    The sales process flows smoothly when each person is aware of the role and responsibility assigned to them. So, you need to mention each task and the person assigned to that. 

    how_to_map_your_sales_process_

    5th Step – Set Factors of Progress For Each Stage  

    There is always a factor/ reason guiding your lead from one stage to the next in their customer journey. Whatever this factor is –  according to your specific business type or industry – mention it.  

    6th Step – Determine the Resources for Each Stage 

    Each stage of the sales system can be supported by various technologies and tools. You need to determine and mention those resources, be it any software or platform. 

    7th Step – Review and Refine 

    Even when your sales process map is created, you need to regularly review it so that it can be refined. With continuous improvement, you can maximize the sales process and successfully adapt to the changes in the market.  

    Tips on How to Create a Sales Process 

    Creating a sales framework is essential for providing a consistent experience to your customers. It serves as a framework for your sales team, inspiring and guiding them through the complexity of the stages involved. 

    Here is a step-by-step tips on how to create a process for sales – 

    1. Audit Your Existing Sales Process
    2. Identify Areas for Improvement 
    3. Get Your Sales, Marketing, and Support Team to Collaborate for Ideas
    4. Refine Messaging For Each Stage    
    5. Evaluate the Buyer’s Journey 
    6. Standardize the Sales Process 
    7. Set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) For Key Stages
    8. Consider and Plan for Scalability  
    9. Implement the New Process 
    10. Gather feedback, Adjust, Repeat 

    Sales Process Example

    1. Salesforce (SaaS Industry)

    Salesforce is a leading name in the SaaS industry. It follows a five-step sales process that starts with lead generation and concludes at closing. It uses various channels to generate leads but relies heavily on inbound marketing efforts for the bulk of the leads. 

    Key Features 

    • The sales flow is customer-centric with a focus on building relationships and offering value 
    • It uses a consultative selling approach where the goal is to educate and empower prospects  
    • More emphasis on the value and benefits of the solutions   

    salesforce_sales_product_image

    2. Amazon (E-commerce Industry)

    Amazon is the worldwide leader in the e-commerce industry and its unique sales process is one of the many reasons behind its leading position in the market. Its sales is a six-step process, starting from online traffic generation to post-purchase support. 

    Key Features 

    • A vast product selection is available for customers with personalized recommendations
    • Its sales system has a seamless checkout experience 
    • Robust logistics network and customer service excellence are one of the key drivers of sales   

    amazon_sales_process_image

    3. Toyota (Automotive Industry)

    For decades, Toyota has been a global giant in the automotive industry. Its popularity cuts across regions and it continues to sell millions of vehicles globally. The sales framework it follows has six steps, starting from lead generation to closing.  

    toyota_vehicle_image_for_sale

    Key Features  

    • Diverse lead generation through various marketing channels
    • Personalized needs assessment followed by test drive experience 
    • Streamlined purchase process tied with post-sale follow-up  

    Final Thoughts  

    Creating and mapping a sales process is vital for helping the sales team close more deals. It also helps them enhance every prospect’s experience with the brand. 

    At REVE, we understand the value of engagement in creating an effective sales process for your business. That’s why we offer a variety of tools to effectively engage and interact with your audience. 

    With us, you can sign up and check how our tools can add value to your sales process. 

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    Praveen Singh
    AUTHOR’S BIO

    Praveen Singh is a content marketer, blogger, and professional with 15 years of passion for ideas, stats, and insights into customers. An MBA Graduate in marketing and a researcher by disposition, he has a knack for everything related to customer engagement and customer happiness.

    As a writer and analyst, he pours the heart out on a blog that is informative, detailed, and often digs deep into the heart of customer psychology. He’s written extensively on a range of topics including, marketing, AI chatbots, omnichannel messaging platforms, and many more.

    Mr. Singh also has a passion for subjects that excite new-age customers, be it social media engagement, artificial intelligence, machine learning. He takes great pride in his learning-filled journey of adding value to the industry through consistent research, analysis, and sharing of customer-driven ideas.

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