The foundation of every business that is making sales at full throttle is a solid sales process. It essentially works as a roadmap for sales teams that enables them to follow certain steps to close more deals. 

Sales process – What does it mean?

A sales process refers to a template containing the steps a salesperson takes to convert a prospect into a customer. 

It marks the journey of a person from a lead to a new customer. 

Having, this process helps ensure that sales reps deliver the desired level of performance each time.  It serves as a guide for sales reps and ensures that they don’t miss anything while dealing with a prospect. It also helps them find out how likely they are to close a deal. 

With a sales process, sales managers can find out why a sale is not moving forward and whether there is a problem. 

Most importantly, a sales process enables one to achieve the sales objectives of a company. 

8 stages of the sales cycle

The most important stages that have to be a part of every sales cycle are the following,

  1. Prospecting
  2. Qualifying leads
  3. Initial meeting
  4. Defining prospect’s needs
  5. Making an offer
  6. Negotiating and finalizing the proposal
  7. Closing the deal
  8. Delivering the product

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What makes a strong sales process?

For a sales process to be effective, it must have certain elements in it. 

Ideally, a robust sales process has to be:

Buyer-centric

Your sales process has to revolve around the buyer. In the current age, buyers have access to a lot of information, and they have several options in front of them. Thanks to the Internet and technological advancement that all they need to know is just a click away. You have to adapt your business to this change and align your sales process with the buyer and their needs. 

Easy to understand

For the process to be effective, it must be clear and be easy to understand. Every stage has to be clearly defined so that you get the desired results.

Replicable

The sales process should be such that none of the sales reps have any confusion in replicating the steps. They should face no difficulty in going about with the stages of the process. 

Predictable

The way the sales process progresses and the expected results must have a predictable pattern. Sale reps should know what the outcome of a step would be. 

Focussed on meeting goals

An effective sales process helps the company meet its objectives. The goals of the company can be anything. They may be to increase revenue or make the work better. The focus of the sales process must be on achieving those goals.

Easy to measure

When you can measure all the activities of the sale process, it is possible to keep track of the progress being made. It will help you measure success and make the required changes if there is a need for improvement. 

Easy to adapt

The sales process should be such that it can adapt to changes. There can be changes due to several factors such as tech integration, new government policies affecting business operations, and much more. 

In addition to all of the above, it must be in alignment with the buyer’s purchasing journey. 

How to create a sales process?

You have seen what elements an ideal sales process should have. Now, we will move on to creating it.

Takes a look at the 8 stages of the sales process

To create an effective sales process, you must know the fundamental stages in a standard sales pipeline. Once you know these stages well, you can identify what activities and goals you should focus on at every step when you develop a sales process for yourself.

Here is a closer look at the 8 pipeline stages,

Prospecting – When you are in the prospecting stage, you identify potential clients. Your sales team finds prospects with the help of cold outreach campaigns. Several channels enable effective outreach, such as email, social media, and even the old-school way of reaching out to prospects, the phone. 

Qualifying leads – After getting prospects, you have to qualify them to ensure that they are the right match for your product or service and they have the budget required to purchase it. 

The meeting leads – Once you qualify the leads, you must meet them to qualify them further, find out what their needs are, and know whether they are the decision-makers or not. 

Define the needs of prospects – In this stage, you must find out the prospect’s needs in detail and understand their pain points better. 

Make an offer – After knowing what the prospects’ needs are and understanding them well, you can provide a quote or proposal.

Negotiate final terms – After making an offer, you have to negotiate with the prospects to finalize the proposal. You have to discuss the terms and conditions and make the prospect agree to them.

Close the deal – Once you and the prospect agree on the terms and conditions, you can go ahead and close the deal. It usually requires you to get signatures on a contract and get other documents in place. 

Deliver the product – This is the final stage where you deliver the product to the customer. Here you can also ask for referrals and approach the customer for upsells. 

 Determine what the stages mean to your business

Stages vary from one company to another. There may not be the need for some stages in the sales process of your business based on your industry and what your product is.

Here’s how it goes,

Prospecting: You can skip this stage if you get leads from a 3rd party source. Just mention it there. 

Qualifying leads – If another team is prequalifying your leads, you won’t need this step in the sales process. Again mention who is responsible for it.

Initial meeting with the prospect: You may need more than one meeting after reaching out to the prospect on the phone, email, or social media.

Define needs of the prospects: If there is sufficient information in the lead form, you don’t have to probe further.

Make an offer – Present a product demo or free trial before the offer. 

Negotiate and finalize – Talk to the prospect about any special payment terms.

Close the deal: It can be about making a payment using a credit card.

Deliver the product or service: It could be giving online access or delivering a product physically. 

Include meaningful activities in each stage

You can add meaningful activities to every stage of the sales process. These are essential things that the sales team does. That includes activities like attending events, sending emails and requests to connect on LinkedIn when you are prospecting, or scheduling phone calls to confirm whether your leads are qualified or not. 

They depend on the industry your business belongs to, the needs of your company, and the product or services you are selling. 

Set measures of success

Once you add activities to each stage of the sales process, you have to set a measure of success which are certain benchmarks that each sales rep and the whole sales team have to achieve. In other words, it is similar to giving targets that the team has to hit. It would help in measuring the progress made. 

For instance, the measure of success in the prospecting stage can be the number of prospects handled by each rep in a day or the total number of prospects dealt with by the team. For the qualifying stage, the number of leads the team qualifies in a month and the number of follow-ups. Similarly, you can set measures of success for the other stages of the sales process.

To make it easier to measure the activities, you can consider using a CRM system. It will automatically track and measure the activities without the need for any manual intervention. It would make tracking the team’s progress easier. 

Set the sales process in the CRM

After you create the entire sales process, you have to set it up in your CRM. Doing so is crucial as it enables the sales team to implement all the steps in the sales process. You would know what all the required activities are to close the deal.

Here’s how you can go about it,

  • Create a sales pipeline in your CRM.
  • Enter the details of contacts you are targeting, about the company where they work, along with the deals. 
  • Set up activities and reminders.

Using the CRM will help you have all the sales data in one place without you having to move back and forth. 

Measure the team’s performance and make changes

You can measure the team’s performance by using the measures of success you had set earlier. Using your CRM’s analytics tools and reports, it is easy to measure and track progress. 

Examine the sales process and find out whether there is a need to make changes. For example, if you observe that you are losing prospects at a particular stage, you can find out why and try to rectify the issue. 

The Final Takeaway

To create a sales process, you have to determine what is required to convert prospects into customers. Based on that, you can create a repeatable process that the sales reps can use consistently. With well-defined stages, it helps sales managers find out how leads are moving in the pipeline. They can take the required action if they spot a lead stuck in a stage for too long. 

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