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Sales Process: A Complete Guide To Close More Deals

26 Min read

“Sales is an outcome, not a goal. It’s a function of doing numerous things right, starting from the moment you target a potential prospect until you finalize the deal – Jill Konrath

Every business whether small or big wishes to increase the sales of their product. However, this selling journey is incomplete without setting up efficient sales process steps. You will not know where you are heading and what you are doing.

A well-defined step in the sales process adds structure to your sales activities. You’ll get a standardized flow to quickly move the deals ahead in the sales cycle. It keeps you organized and helps in increasing conversion.

Content:-

  1. What is a sales process?
  2. Building a winning a sales process
  3. Benefits of building a sales process for closing more deals
  4. The 7-step Sales Process
  5. Things to do for building a successful sales process
  6. Best practices for a profitable sales process
  7. Measure your sales process
  8. Difference between sales process and sales methodology
  9. Top sales methodologies for effective selling
  10. Common mistakes that you need to avoid

What is a sales process?

A sales process is the set of sales steps that help a sales rep in closing and converting a deal. It acts as a detailed guide for the sales personnel. Sales process is a structured framework for generating more sales with relative ease in less time. It helps in increasing your overall sales efficiency and improving profit margins.

From prospecting to the closing of the deal, everything is streamlined with a sales process. The different stages of the sales process give you clarity and provide a direction to convert a prospect into a paying customer. It is the best way to keep the sales momentum going. With a standardized sales process, it is easier to identify the bottlenecks and tackle them in real-time for winning more sales.

“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you are doing” – Edward Deming

Building a winning a sales process

If you are one amongst the 13% of employees in the USA working in the sales domain, you will be aware of the fact that sales is a challenging job. The difficulty level escalates when you don’t have a proper sales process in place.

Sales success requires patience, persistence, proficiency and a perfect process.

Selling without a sales process is like wandering in the wilderness. You have no clue about what to do next. You are unable to track metrics or predict closure. The negative sales results might convey the message that there is a problem in your sales approach.

In fact, 90% of all companies that use formal and guided sales processes were ranked as highest g performing. 

Moreover, studies by TAS group, with reference to Dealmaker index study, discovered that companies that implement a sales process outperform companies that don’t. Adopting a sales process results in the growth of revenue, productivity and helps in forecasting the numbers. 

A different steps in sales process can help you locating the problem if it is correctly developed and used. Proper attention to this process can tell you what went wrong and why did you experience a drop in your sales numbers. The distance to close shortens when you have a roadmap in front of you.

By implementing a sales process in your company, you gain edge over your competitors, as per Objective Management Group, 68% of sales people don’t follow sales process at all! Hence, here’s your cue  to implement sales process and grow faster! 

Benefits of building sales process steps for closing more deals

An effective sales process aids in building a healthy relationship between the company and the customers. It speeds up the sales cycle and helps in improving profit margins.

Here are the benefits of building a sales process:

1. Stay on course

Following a clear path makes your sales hassle-free and keeps you on track. A well-defined sales process serves as a GPS. It guides you throughout the sales journey starting from the initial contact to the final signing of the contract.

  • A sales process helps you in understanding where the buyers are in the buying process
  • It tells you what needs to be done at each stage
  • This decreases the possibilities of a deal slipping away through the crack and increases the chances of winning a sale

2. More accurate understanding

Get a better understanding of your sales and prospects. A formalized process ensures that the efforts are put in the right direction. You can quickly identify risks and take actions in real-time. It helps you in eliminating the activities that yield no results.

  • Know in which stage the deals are getting stuck
  • Understand why do your deals stall
  • Find out what stimulates action for the deal to move from one stage to other

3. Faster on-boarding and training

Coaching new sales rep gets easier when you have a standardized sales process. You can show them what needs to be done in different situations. They can easily learn the basic steps and get started quickly.

  • It is the best way to acquaint the new reps with your company’s selling style
  • They’ll know what you expect and what they need to do
  • Besides by analyzing the sales process, you can find the skill gap and provide adequate training to your current sales reps

4. Deeper understanding of prospects

A defined sales process is much more effective for your business, as it outlines the ideal customer profile and buyer persona. Knowing what your prospect wants helps you to have a deeper understanding of the leads and provide personalized solutions.  

5. Getting more qualified leads

Sales process allows you to filter out the leads and focus on high-intent leads so you can close deals faster. A CRM with lead scoring feature helps you to score the leads based on their preferences and their engagement with the company. Hence, you can capture more qualified leads and shorten the sales cycle as well. 

6. Forecasting numbers

Sales is all about accuracy, and a visual sales pipeline assists in providing a clear picture about your sales, helping in forecasting the revenue. A well-maintained sales process is highly beneficial as it helps you keep your sales funnel full, resulting in revenue growth and nurtured leads. 

The 7-step sales process

How to create a winning sales process

Sales process management is the journey of creating a lasting relationship with your customers. This journey is broken into several simple steps popularly known as the “7-step sales process”. Each step requires the utmost attention to convert a potential prospect into a paying customer. Though each company follows a different sales methodology, the crux is almost the same.

Here is how a typical sales process steps looks like:

1. Prospecting – The hunt for new customers

Prospecting – The hunt for new customers

The first and very crucial step of the sales process is prospecting where you search for new buyers. For successful prospecting, it is necessary to know where to target. Most of the sales reps tend to take this step for granted which is why they fail at it.

50% of sales time is wasted on unproductive prospecting

Instead of casting your net wide by approaching everyone, narrow down your search and target specific companies.

  • For better results create a buyer persona
  • This will save you crucial selling time and keep your pipeline healthy
  • Find out whom you should target
  • For creating a buyer persona, you can refer to the database of your past successful customers
  • Study their buying habits, pain points, and preferences
  • Create a set of questions you need to ask your prospects
  • Once you are clear with your target audience, pick the right time and medium to reach them
  • You can either approach them through cold calls or emails
  • No matter which medium you choose, the aim is to capture the prospects’ attention
  • You can either choose a generalized sales pitch or personalize it to get a better response

2. Qualification – The discovery

You’ve targeted the right prospects? Are you sure?

Always be double assured in sales as one wrong turn can put you in trouble.

Therefore, we have the qualification step in sales process where you try to discover more about the prospects through qualifying questions.

“When reps take the role of a curious students rather than an informed expert, buyers are much more inclined to engage” – Jeff Hoffman

Dig as deep as you can and try to know everything about your prospects to ensure you are on the right path. This step also helps in building rapport and gaining the prospect’s trust.

  • Understand if the prospect needs your product
  • Do additional research; browse through their website and social media pages
  • Read various reviews about their product and company
  • See who are their customers
  • Try to find out their strengths and weaknesses
  • Understand their needs and pain points
  • Try to find out the decision maker of the company
  • See if they have any budget or time decided for the implementation of the product
  • Ask relevant questions as your prospects might get annoyed with generic questions
  • Actively listen to every answer as it holds a wealth of information
  • Take notes of the answer given to your qualifying questions
  • Record the calls to keep track of every minute detail mentioned by the prospect during this qualification step
  • Make a list of the problems stated by the prospects and analyze them to find if your product can help them

3. Appointment setting – Way to reach and get in front of your prospects

Setting appointments is as difficult as a Greek puzzle. You need to take each step smartly to convince the prospect to meet you. Meetings are the best way to display the value proposition of your product or service.

Appointment setting consumes around 75% of the total sales efforts

Sounds like you cannot excel in this sales process step without breaking a sweet. Yes, it is a tiresome task, but it is worth the effort. You’ll get the full attention of your prospects. So, do all that it takes to secure an appointment.

  • Lead with a conversation, understand prospect’s concerns, provide necessary information and then set an appointment
  • Ensure you sound confident while setting an appointment
  • Impress the prospects and give them reasons to meet you
  • Be patient and politely ask for the prospect’s time
  • Don’t sound too salesy, avoid all kinds of marketing statements
  • Get to the point immediately instead of beating around the bush
  • If you’ve emailed the prospect and have not received a response, then don’t get disappointed as there are chances that they might be busy
  • Track your emails and follow-up again after a few days
  • Even on a call if a prospect says he/she doesn’t have the time to meet then don’t give up trying to call back after a few weeks
  • Use appointment scheduling tool to ensure you don’t ever miss any important meeting with the prospect

4. Presentation – Displaying the unique value of your product

This is a very important sales process step where you can influence a buying decision. Sales presentations help in nurturing leads.

Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.

During the initial steps of the sales process, you’ve understood the concerns and problems of the prospects. Now, it is time to present your product as a solution to them.

Show them how your product can help streamline their business. Here you can either show the sample of your product or give them a demo. Presentations are an opportunity to prove your product’s excellent capabilities so make the most of it.

  • Ensure the presentation is tailored to the prospect’s requirements
  • It should speak about the problem faced by the prospect and how can your product help in overcoming that issue
  • Know everything about your product to handle any sort of questions raised by the prospect
  • Study your competitors to show your prospects how are you better than the rest
  • Avoid long, uninteresting explanations
  • Keep your presentation precise yet informative
  • It should highlight all the strong aspects of your product
  • Don’t confuse or bore your prospects with complicated content
  • Support your presentation with evidence
  • Build credibility by showing your awards, customer case studies, and testimonials
  • Interact with the prospects and learn more about their concerns
  • Try to find out their buying motivation

5. Objection handling – Facing and handling the no’s

Objection handling – Facing and handling the no

Sales objection is one common hurdle that almost all the sellers face in their sales journey. No company will easily invest in a solution.

Maximum buyers are caught up in the dilemma of whether to buy a product or not.  I am sure even you too might have hesitated before purchasing an expensive product. So, don’t instantly reach a conclusion that the prospect is not interested. There are reasons behind their objections.

“Treat objections as requests for further information” – Brian Tracy

Sales objections are a challenge that you need to handle tactfully. Listen to objection calmly instead of jumping in and responding to the objection instantly. Give your prospects a chance to explain their concern.

Don’t abandon a sales deal straight away, find out what’s bothering your prospects. Pause after an objection and think before responding to it.

Successful sales professionals pause immediately after a customer’s objection for 5X longer than their less successful peers.

  • Step in the customers’ shoe and understand the situation from their point of view
  • Don’t interrupt the prospect
  • Clarify when you have a doubt to ensure you don’t address the wrong objection
  • Ask a few exploratory questions as there are chances that the prospect might be hiding the real concern
  • Don’t get disappointed with objections
  • Make a list of most commonly faced objections and find out the best possible way to tackle them

6. Closing – The final verdict

This sales process step is the make-or-break moment. You either seal the deal or lose it. Finding the right way to close is pivotal to taste sales success.

From the opportunities accepted, 29.3% closed, which means that the average SDR 29.3% is responsible for about 11 deals per quarter

After getting so close to the finishing line, losing would be disheartening. Wouldn’t it? So, handle this step with extra care.

Try to meet your prospect’s expectations and show the benefits of being your customer. Be selective with your words and phrases while conversing with your prospects.

Avoid the below words:

  • “Discount”: Decreases close rates by 17%
  • “Contract”: Hurts close rates by 7%
  • “Your company’s name”: Affects close rate by 14% when used four or more time in one call

Persuade the prospects to take the right action. Use the right closing techniques and tactics to get your potential prospects to sign the dotted line for becoming a paying customer.

Here are some closing techniques that can help

  • Adjournment close: Don’t rush, give your prospects some time to think
  • Affordable close: Make the prospect feel that they can afford the product you are offering
  • Bonus close: Offer delighter to capture the interest of the prospect
  • Quality close: Emphasize on quality features of your product instead of price
  • Urgency close: Create a sense of urgency to close the deal quickly
  • Testimonial close: Use the testimonial of a satisfied customer to convince the prospect

7. Delivering value– Stay connected with your customers

Closing isn’t the end of the road. Keep delivering value even after getting the precious dollars from your prospects.

“Don’t celebrate closing a sales, celebrate opening a relationship” – Patricia Fripp

Don’t forget your customers once you win the sales and start focusing on achieving your targets. Nurturing them even after a successful closure is important to retain them for a longer time.

An existing customer is a path to reach new customers. So, don’t take them for granted. Besides if they have a negative experience with your product, they might share it with their networks too.

As we all know the bad worth of mouth spreads like wildfire. Ensure your customers receive the benefits you had promised during the initial steps of the sales process.

  • Call your customers and take their feedback about using your product
  • If your customers are facing any difficulty, then address and fix the issue immediately
  • Send them newsletters and keep engaging them with informative content
  • Ask for referrals and testimonials without hesitation

Things to-do for building a successful sales process

A well-defined and rightly built sales process can help your business grow. So, ensure you avoid any kind of errors and do everything right.

Here are the things you should consider doing for building a successful sales process.

1. Analyze your past sales

There is a lot to learn from your past sales. Therefore, turn back and analyze. Study your past deals and understand the steps that lead to a successful conversion. See how the deal progressed from one step to other.

  • Make a list of highly satisfied customers and understand their traits
  • Find out the exact reason why did the customer agreed to invest in your product
  • Focus on the timing and see when your customers generally purchase a product
  • What features of the product are alluring the customers?
  • How much time does it take to convert a deal?

2. Set clear expectations

Once you are clear with all the steps, you need to define the metric for each stage. Build benchmarks to stay on the right track. You’ll know where you are going wrong and what do you need to improve.

  • Be clear with what you want at different steps of the sales process
  • Set goals for each step
  • Keep track of the goals and address the problem areas immediately
  • Set a time limit for each deal to move from one step to another

3. Define action for each step

There are specific steps that you need to follow to close a deal. But what do you need to do at each step? Set clear qualifying criteria for each step to move forward and complete the sales cycle without any hassle.

  • Keep a list of actions ready to move a prospect from one step to another
  • If there are any glitches in the progress of the deal, you’ll know that is the area of the sales process that needs your utmost attention
  • You’ll save time and know what needs to be done to push the deal forward to the next step quickly

4. Map out current sales process 

If you want to improve your sales process, you need to study your currently sales process first. Find out how effective your current sales process is and how you can optimize it for better results. 

Do you need to add or remove certain steps from your sales process? Or does a specific stage is taking extra time? Analyze the past deals to examine the execution of your current sales process. 

5. Define your key performance indicators (KPI) 

Key performance indicators are crucial for every business, as they help in determining the objective of the business and measure the performance against the objectives. 

KPI is a measurable value that reflects how effectively a company is achieving its goals and objectives. Moreover, you can utilize various KPIs at different stages of your sales process to analyze and evaluate the success. 

Best practices for a profitable sales process

To succeed in sales, you need to go to great lengths and put in more effort than usual. Explore and try new things to make your sale process more efficient.

Here are the best practices you should consider following for making your sales process profitable:

1. Automate your sales

There are certain parts of the sales process that are repetitive and time-consuming. To increase efficiency and productivity consider automating these tasks instead of doing them manually. Several sales automation tools can help you in making your sales process smoother and faster.

With an automation tool you can:

  • Set workflows and send timely follow-up emails to your prospect
  • Create activities automatically when the deal stage is updated
  • Automatically send greeting email on festivals and special events to nurture a relationship with the prospect
  • Automatically assign sales task to your teammate and manage opportunities in real-time

Automate lead assignment 

Every growing business faces the challenge of handling all the leads; you may have multiple sources for capturing leads, but are you able to connect with all of them? A fragmented process results in leads falling through the cracks, making you lose potential customers. 

In fact, salespeople who contact the prospects first get 30-50% of sales. Interesting, right? Unfortunately, only 7% of them respond within 5 minutes, making it difficult to turn them into customers. A streamlined lead assignment process ensures that every lead is connected with so you no longer miss out on potential customer. 

Automate your outreach 

One of the vital aspects of any sales pipeline is effective outreach, and salespeople are constantly sending emails, texts and what not to stay in touch with their customers and prospects. With automation, you can track your email performance, find out the email click and open rate to know whether your campaign is working well or not. 

Moreover, you can set up automation based on triggers, so whenever your prospect opens your email, you can set a delay and send another email with resources to engage further. 

Performance reports 

If you want to grow, it’s crucial to keep a check on your sales performance. Automation also provides insightful reports on your sales so you can forecast your revenue. Moreover, it also enables you to track the performance of your sales reps and find out which rep is putting more effort and how effective it is. 

Related: Improve Your Sales cycle and management with Sales Automation

2. Establish a sales script

A sales script can guide you in moving a prospect further in a sales process. You will know what to say for attracting the customers. Sales scripts reduce stress and increase confidence in sales reps. It bolsters sales communication and aids in making a good impression on the prospect.

For sales script success-

  • Ensure your sales scripts have a clear agenda
  • Instead of using generic scripts personalize them for each prospect
  • Don’t read from the script; add your personality to it
  • Keep the sales script short and impactful

Related: Powerful sales scripts to set an impact and seal the deal

3. Refine and optimize your sales process

Don’t just create and assume that your sales process is working. It is necessary to keep an eye on your sales process for optimizing it in real-time. Track it and find out if there are any roadblocks that you need to overcome.

  • Regularly review your sales process
  • Find out what changes has the sales process brought
  • Check if your sales process in driving desired results
  • Measure each step of the sales process and make necessary amendments

4. Recognize bottlenecks and resolve them 

You can’t overcome any challenges if you don’t recognize them in the first place. When you have a 360-degree view of your sales pipeline, you need to pay attention to where the deals get stuck in the sales pipeline. Is your team spending more time negotiating? Is the deal not passing through the closing stage? Well, you can find out the bottlenecks and put more effort towards resolving them to ensure a smooth sales pipeline.

5. Sales enablement 

Sales enablement is highly underrated, and we feel that it should be utilized more often. When you provide your salespeople with essential resources, templates, and other informational documents for prospects, they’ll be able to save more time when prospecting. Ready-to-use templates help in personalizing the conversation based on the interests of your prospects to capture their attention. 

Measure your sales process

Have you successfully set up your sales process? Great! Now you need to measure its performance by looking at a few key indicators. Examining the below points will help you get a clear picture of your sales process and how it’s performing. 

Lead to opportunity conversion 

You’ve got leads, now what? You also need to keep track of how many leads are engaging with your company. Setting up sales sequences for follow-ups saves the time of your salespeople and increases the effectiveness. You can do A/B testing and find out which outreach approach is helping your campaign and work on optimizing it. 

Prospect to paying conversion 

Converting prospects into customers doesn’t have to be so difficult. Recognize their challenges by tracking their behavior and preferences, and provide a personalized solution that can help them. Offer them product demoes, free trials, etc. so they can try out the product or service. 

Does your prospect need more information on your product or service? Then you can share links or downloadable eBooks and guides about your company to provide a clear picture of what you offer. 

Length of your sales cycle 

A successful sales process will always have a short sales cycle. You need to be aware of which stage of your sales pipeline is taking long and figure out a way to resolve the issue. Healthy sales cycle is short and effective, ensuring customer satisfaction and higher retention/ 

Process adoption

Your salespeople are the one working with prospects and adapting to the sales process. So, ensure you take their feed on the sales process, whether they’re facing any issues with it and simplify the entire process for them. 

If your salespeople are not able to understand the sales process, you can set-up training sessions  

Sales forecast accuracy 

Sales process also forecasts the numbers; if they’re anywhere close to the actual numbers, then you’re doing it right! An accurate sales forecast is highly beneficial in revenue growth. 

Difference between sales process and sales methodologies

While the two terms sound identical, they’re both entirely different and have process of their own. So, it’s imperative to not get confused between the two. 

Sales process is a step-by-step series of actions that salespeople initiate to capture leads, engage, negotiate and close the deal. 

Sales methodology is an approach that salespeople take to implement the entire sales process and how it can help you grow your business. The framework in a sales methodology is a set of tools and processes that a sales rep implements in a sales process. 

So, the sales process is how your team carries out the actions to eventually convert a prospect into a lead, while sales methodology is a framework of different sales approaches that your team takes before finalizing the most effective one. 

Top sales methodologies for effective selling

You have a successful sales process but along with that, you need a strong strategy to succeed. Here are the top sales methodologies that can support your sales process and help you in selling effectively.

  1. SPIN Selling Methodology
  2. The CHALLENGER Sale Methodology
  3. MEDDIC Sales Methodology
  4. Conceptual Selling Methodology
  5. SNAP Selling Methodology
  6. N.E.A.T. Sales Methodology
  7. Sandler Sales Methodology

Common mistakes that you need to avoid

To ensure a solid sales process, it’s essential to be aware of the common errors that sales reps make and steer clear of them.

Not documenting the sales process learning 

Sales process doesn’t always work with the same approach. Every prospect is different; hence their requirements will also differ. Therefore, a sales process that worked on one prospect might not work on the other. 

To ensure that you don’t fall back on the sales process, you need to document every sales process that you created. Different approaches may lead to different results, and you can work on the ones that drives best results. Every experiment needs to be documented so you can learn from it and prepare better sales processes. 

Not defining the stages 

It’s highly crucial to define every step in your sales process. In marketing you can’t just wing it! Hence, determine a set of stages that your prospect will go through to ensure a streamlined process. 

Such actions and triggers at every step will help you determine where you’re lacking efforts and which stage needs more effort. 

Ignoring micro-goals 

Focusing on the end-goal is essential, but one must not neglect the process that takes place before reaching the goal. Micro-goals are highly essential in tracking the performance and boosting the confidence of your team members. 

Set micro, achievable goals that your salespeople can focus on while working with prospects, and achieving such micro-goals can also help in achieving faster results and increasing the productivity. 

Having rigid sales methodology 

Following one sales methodology might get you desired results, however, studying different sales methodologies and implementing different approaches from each one of them might get you a better sales process. 

So, don’t hesitate in experimenting with sales methodology; change it up based on your prospects’ preferences as they tend to change over time. 

Wrapping up

Following a structured corporate sales process can make a big difference to your business revenue; provided you do it right! Create a sales process that’s highly effective.

All the sales process steps are crucial; so, ensure you give every step equal importance. Take control over your sales process and manage it efficiently to expand your profit margins. You can leverage the benefits of a smart CRM tool to manage your sales process effectively. 

Salesmate is one such intelligent small business CRM that can help you in streamlining your sales process for achieving your sales targets. This advanced CRM is used by sales teams of various sizes. 

With this high-end sales tool, you can create multiple sales pipelines for managing your sales process steps efficiently. You can add, edit and rename your sales deals. Using Salesmate CRM you can easily keep track of the buyers’ journey. 

Salesmate CRM allows you to set a rotting period and win probability for taking timely actions. Use this smart tool for creating insightful reports and measure your sales performance.

You can try this smart CRM for free and see how it works for your organization. If you have questions regarding various other features this smart sales tool has to offer, then do get in touch with us. We will be really happy to assist you.

An avid writer who likes to explore new fields and research about interesting subjects. She is a versatile content developer who plays with words to express her thoughts. Calm, carefree and creative are the words that describes her the best.

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