Managing a digital agency sales team has challenges. You’re managing team members, clients, reporting and analytics, and of course, the sales process, all on a daily basis. It may feel a bit like a juggling act – and it’s hard to keep all the balls in the air. We’ve put together some tips that will help you with at least one of those – the sales process. And it is an area that needs some help. Writer Mike Lieberman, says in a blog post for Agencies2Inbound, “This is by far the weakest area for agencies, whether they want to be inbound or not, most of the agencies I’ve spoken with are working without a defined and documented agency sales process.”
What is a Sales Process?
Sales process refers to the repeatable steps that your sales team uses to move a prospect through all the phases from lead to closed sale. It is how your team interacts with customers to reach the sales goals you have set for them. The typical steps in the process are:
- Prospect – This phase involves sourcing new leads to begin the process with.
- Connect – Sales reps will initiate contact with new leads and determine whether they move forward with the process.
- Research – This is the information gathering phase, where reps learn as much as they can about the prospect and their company.
- Present – In this phase, the reps typically present your product to prospects in a presentation of demonstration.
- Close – This is when a successful sale is made to a prospect.
How you choose to manage each of these phases will impact the success of the process. Keep in mind that this isn’t the complete process. After closing a sale, hopefully, many customers will remain in your reps’ sales pipelines as potential repeat customers. The following are some strategies to consider as you define the sales process that works for you.
Maintain Consistent Lead Flow
In order to begin the sales process, you have to have leads. Leads can come from a variety of sources, and as the sales leader, you have to determine which work best. Some to consider include, personal referrals, and networking leads, paid searches, and inbound marketing tactics like blogging, content marketing, and social media marketing.
Be sure to keep the lead flow scalable, so that your team doesn’t run out of leads during high-activity periods, as well as not overloading them when things are moving more slowly. Being able to adjust is important to maintaining team motivation and productivity.
Provide Your Team with an Effective Leader
Every team needs a great head coach, as well as assistant coaches in specialized areas. Make sure that as you build your team, you put your strongest players in leadership roles by building duties like business development and account managers into their job descriptions. Steve W. Martin, in his article, The 7 Attributes of the Most Effective Sales Leaders, published in the Harvard Business Review, explains why good leaders are important, “Every salesperson knows the quality of their sales manager will have a profound impact on their own success. A recent study I conducted proves this point. Sixty-nine percent of salespeople who exceeded their annual quota rated their sales manager as being excellent or above average.”
Keep Sales Process Visibility Clear
Agency managers and salespeople in leadership roles must have access to lead volume and opportunities at all times. This allows managers to effectively anticipate workflow, adjust staffing accordingly, and to forecast revenue. It’s also important for sales team members to be kept in the loop about these things – either by allowing them access or having very open communication from the top.
Prepare for Feast and Famine in the Sales Process
The sales world can be fickle, sometimes overflowing and sometimes running on empty. A great manager will prepare for both of those situations by including reactive and proactive sales strategies in monthly plans for every team member. This will ensure that when it’s feast time, everyone is prepared to jump in and support each other. Conversely, when it’s famine time, team members are able to work on other areas that support the sales process like marketing, nurturing leads, or networking for new prospects.
Stick to a Defined Sales Process
When you have employed the other strategies listed, you will be on your way to building a sales process that works – stick to it. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make adjustments as necessary; there is a certain amount of trial and error that will help you continue to define key strategies and practices that will improve your process. But the bottom line is, as you figure out what works, keep it until it doesn’t.