What’s a sales process?
A sales process is a set of repeatable steps that a sales person takes to take a prospective buyer from the early stage of awareness to a closed sale.
Simply put, it is a potential customer’s journey from realizing they have a need for a product to making an actual purchase.
And since the sales process is a journey for a prospect, it is a roadmap for a sales person.
10 reasons you need a sales process
Of course, relying on your talents and resourcefulness is a cool way to work, but sales is not a game of intuition and creativity. Sales is a structured set of tactical steps.
So, let’s talk about the reasons you need a standardized sales process.
- Get rid of waste.
Having a defined process of specific chain-effect steps gives you a more accurate understanding of what things are and aren’t working in your sales. Defining what triggers (actions) cause prospects to move from one stage to the next makes it easy for you to identify the RIGHT actions and get rid of bottlenecks and those activities that yield no or little results.
- Always stay on course.
A sales process is often called a “sales rep’s roadmap”.
Following a roadmap does not mean that a sales person will be instructed “do this, then do that”. Instead, a sales process will serve as a GPS system with clear steps and milestones. Knowing what each step entails, helps sales people to understand where they are in the process, when it’s time to move to the next step and when to adjust your course.
- Utilize your sales talents in every step.
Having a sales process does not cancel creativity!
You can use your gut instincts and creative talents to get from one stage to the next, as the sales process won’t dictate how to sell on social media, how to structure your sales pitch, what to write in a sales email, or how to draft in a proposal – that’s up to your sales talent and skills!
- Step into your customer’s shoes.
Often companies create a sale process that reflects the way they want to sell, not the way their customers want to buy.
An effective sales process should be adaptable to suit different selling situation and customer needs. Designing a sales process with your customer in mind, will entail you asking the following questions:
- What are my main customer groups?
- How do they differ in terms of their buying patterns?
- How differently do I sell to new customers and for repeat business?
- What are my customers’ expectations in each sales stage and what can I do to meet them?
- Find the cause of stalled sales.
Adopting a sales process allows sales professionals to be able to identify the root cause of stalled sales. By following a set of steps, you are able to analyze whether or not your actions were sufficient, how many of them you actually needed, and what proved to be a misstep or a waste of time.
This means that if you work with a sales process you can tell not only what was and wasn’t achieved; but also, how it was or wasn’t achieved.
- Get more qualified leads.
Adopting a clearly defined sales process will help your sales team to tackle its biggest pain – filter out low-potential leads and identify the prospects with biggest likelihood to purchase. Making your sales cycle shorter and more targeted, a sales process helps your sales team to maximize their efforts with quality leads.
- Improve forecasting and revenue.
Having a clear picture of where your sales people are in the sales process helps sales managers to come up with more accurate sales forecasting. Since a sales process is a set of repeatable steps, it gives a more consistent picture of how many deals your team closes from a given number of leads. This allows you to predict your win rates and set quotas with more accuracy.
- Never miss a follow-up.
One of the most important aspects of winning a sale is a timely follow-up email.
During a (often lengthy) sales interaction, sales reps may forget to follow up with potential customers. This alone may send an entire sale down the drain. Follow-ups keep the desire to buy alive. A standardized sales process will always remind you when to follow up with a prospect and keep a healthy sales pipeline. It can even offer a type of a follow-up activity and even a template to use.
- Offer better customer experience.
Often a sales rep pushes a customer too quickly into the next stages of a sale, for which they may not be ready yet.
This can not only damage the relationship, but simply break the deal. A well-designed sales process, that focuses on the customer, can turn a haphazard and often pushy sale into a smooth sailing customer experience.
Based on your customer’s buying behaviors and expectations, a sales process will offer the steps that sell value, enhance trust and create a stronger bond with a potential customer – all at the right time.
- Onboard sales rookies with ease.
If, instead of proper training, your new sales people are asked to shadow (watch) their colleagues sell, then you definitely need a sales process!
A defined sales process makes it easy to train rookies and coach your sales team. Not only will it offer concrete sales steps for them to follow, but it will also highlight what behaviors and skills are required for each stage of a sale, what outcomes are expected at each step, and what individual strengths should be utilized at different sale stages.