Build a Sales Process in Five Steps
What is a Sales Process?
A sales process is the repeatable set of steps your sales team will take to move a prospect through various stages from initial contact to closing. While there isn’t one sales process that works for every business, there is a formula that everyone can follow.
Let’s start with three simple questions: 1) Do you have a sales process? 2) Is it written down? 3) Have you made a change to it in the last 6-12 months?
If you answered no to any of these questions, grab a pencil and keep reading. Even if you answered yes to all three, I am confident you will learn something from this post that will improve your current sales process.
Step 1: Know Your Lead Source
Do you have enough leads? Do you know where most of them come from? More importantly, do you know where your best leads come from? Many businesses are focused on getting “more” leads, forgetting that high quality leads will translate to more business than a ton of low quality leads. Evaluate these lead questions, write down your responses and determine how you should move forward.
For example, does your Facebook lead generation bring in 5-10 leads a day however your sales people are only closing 1 in 100 of those? Meanwhile, your LinkedIn leads generation is bringing 1-3 a day and your salespeople are closing 2-4 a month. I like the efficiency of the LinkedIn conversions a lot better.
Now, depending on your business and what you are selling, your convertible leads may be higher from Facebook, Instagram or your website than LinkedIn. The purpose of this example is not to sell you on LinkedIn lead generation, but rather to give you an example of how you should be evaluating conversion rates from your various lead sources.
If you cannot answer these lead source questions, put a process in place to track this information.
Step 2: Track Your Leads Efficiently
Here’s where the heart of the Sales Process comes in. A good framework for a repeatable sales process involves Sales Stages. This helps you track clearly where your leads in their buying process which will help your salespeople to overcome objections more easily (more on this shortly).
Know that you know your various leads sources, you know how they are entering your process and you can decide what happens next. Depending on the lead source, the first action or two in your sales process may vary, but don’t worry, they’ll all sync back up again quickly. Once your lead comes in to you, add it to your tracking system. A customer relationship management (CRM) tool simplifies tracking leads through the sales process. Having your leads automatically input into your CRM not only streamlines the process and saves you time, but it also works to ensure that no leads are lost due to inefficiencies. Once in the CRM, you can easily drag and drop to move your prospects through each stage. An example of potential sales stages may look like this:
Prospecting → Contacted → Qualified → Educated → Visited → Quoted → Sold / Lost
While a linear sales process would certainly be ideal, that is not the reality of it. Instead, most sales processes look like flow charts, with branches going off in various directions. Many of those branches are due to buyer objections that come up in the process. This is where you can start to see real value from a sales process, especially when working with a more junior salesperson.
Step 3: Find Sales Leaks and Fix Them
Leaks in your Sales Process are the points where a lead drops off and either informs you of their intent to not purchase or simply stops responding to your salesperson. Think about two or three of the most common objections that you receive. One objection that we hear in almost any business is around price. There are a lot of sales strategies to overcome pricing objections, but often it involves a bit of a dance between buyer and salesperson. Sometimes, especially with a rookie salesperson, this leads to over-promising what the operations side of the business can actually deliver upon.
Rather than having to respond to objections after they occur, what if you could head them off. If you know exactly where in your sales process common objections occur, then you can put a step into your sales process that heads off those objections before they even arise.
Step 4: Re-evaluate and refine your sales process
A sales process is an ever changing thing. I’ve heard companies say “we had a sales coach come in several years ago and put a process in place.” First of all, kudos for taking the steps to bring in an expert to help you with building your process, which can get a little complex. Now, ask yourself if there been any changes to your business since then? Has your marketing strategy changed in the last few years? (I hope so, given that there have been significant advancements in digital marketing). Do you offer any new products or services? Even if neither of those have changed, your buyers and their communication preferences have.
You should be regularly assessing your sales process. Perhaps a new objection came up that you haven’t heard before; write it down and how you overcame that objection. Consider building that into your sales process at the educational stage, providing a new resource to your buyers to help them understand your offering better.
Step 5: Sales and Marketing need to work together.
A solid sales process utilizes the marketing branch of the company. When a prospect stops responding to calls or emails, or when they tell us they aren’t interested, the sales process typically ends right there. How many times do your sales people reach out to each prospect before stopping? 80% of sales people only contact a prospect 1-2 times. Statistically, it takes 8-12 touches (phone calls, emails, meetings) to convert a prospect.
Inevitably some prospects will say no. When that happens, add that person to your drip marketing campaign (make sure to give them an option to unsubscribe), and understand that often a “no” in sales is just a “not right now.” If they’ve stopped responding to calls and emails, add them to a drip marketing campaign. Just because they don’t have time to answer your calls right now, doesn’t mean they won’t need/want what you are selling in the future. Did they buy from you? Add them to your on-going marketing campaigns. Previous buyers make great repeat customers. They already know and love your products. If you rely solely on salespeople who are chasing the next new lead, your prior customers may go unattended. Leverage your marketing team here, and if you don’t have one, leverage your CRM which can make marketing to them easy.
Follow these 5 steps to build your proven and repeatable sales process. Make sure to include your sales team as they will have valuable insights to provide. If you need help with this, let us know, this is exactly what we do!