For any business, building a scalable sales process can be a difficult process. Although there is no shortage of advice out there on how to build a sales process, few programs touch on the importance of using task management software to control the sales process workflow and ensure that employees stay on task to ensure best results.
We discovered that sales forces were most effective at managing their sales pipelines if they had invested time in defining a credible, formalized sales process. In fact, there was an 18% difference in revenue growth between companies that defined a formal sales process and companies that didn’t.Jason Jordan and Robert Kelly
Understanding Your Sales Process
To design an effective sales process, you must take into account your own product and what will feel natural to the customer. The most common stages of the sales process include:
- Prospect. The prospect stage refers to sourcing leads to begin the sales process with. There may be many steps that make up the prospecting stage, depending on how your company sources leads and begins the sales process.
- Connect. Beginning contact with the early stage leads that you have sourced. The connect stage is generally an information gathering stage and is light on the hard selling.
- Research. Learning more about a prospect that you have made a connection with. The more you know about a prospect, the better you can tailor your pitch to match their needs and pain points. This improves the likelihood of closing the deal.
- Present. Often, the sales process will include a presentation or demonstration stage to help the prospect get acquainted with and better understand the product that is being sold. This stage often takes quite a bit of time and can include several steps in the presentation process for more complicated products.
- Close. Closing the deal is the final stage of the sales process and often involves several steps and a final meeting or phone call to seal the deal and sign the contract. The close is the most critical stage of the sales process.
Although the sales process can differ quite a bit between companies and products, most will contain most of these stages. When designing your own sales process, it is important that you ask yourself when makes your product unique and how you can convey that message to your leads and prospects within your sales processes.
Once you have a sales process in mind, you can then begin to examine your sales methodology.
Popular Sales Methodologies
A sales methodology is different from your sales process. It is the philosophy that a company employs to grow through the sale of their product. It is the framework for how your sales process is actually carried out. For instance, a company that relies heavily on phone sales would employ a different methodology than a company that relies on in-person meetings, even if the stages of the process are very similar.
The different popular sales methodologies include:
The challenger sales method was originally outlined in the popular sales book, “The Challenger Sale” by Matthew Dixon in 2011. The book outlines different types of sales professionals and the persona that most often correlated with better performance. The gist of the program is that “Challengers” excel by being willing to learn about their customers and push the customer to challenge their own beliefs during the sales process.
The solution methodology is the most popular sales methodology, particularly for B2B applications. This solution focuses on understanding and tailoring your pitch to the customers’ pain points instead of focusing on the features of the product. This helps to ensure that you are addressing the needs of the customer and positioning your product as the solution to their problems.
In many ways, consultative selling has a lot in common with solution selling. Consultative selling places the emphasis on the salesperson becoming an adviser for the client. The idea is to build trust and deliver value in advance of selling your product so that by the time you offer the product you are already in a position of trust and authority with the prospect.
The inbound sales methodology is a digital sales methodology that is relatively new on the scene. It is the process of attracting buyers by passively delivering value through content and education. By delivering value for free, you build a reputation with your audience and then offer your product to an audience that is already familiar with your brand.
Building a Sales Process
Once you have decided on a primary methodology (there is no reason why companies with the resources can not employ several methodologies within their organization to see what works best for them), then you can go about designing your sales processes and setting your tasks up within your sales process software. It is important that you assign resources that have a keen eye for detail and an ability to think outside of the box when designing your sales workflow processes.
As you start to design your sales process, keep these tips in mind:
The best thing that you can do when designing your sales process is to observe, both the past in the present. Look back at the last 10 deals that your company closed and outline the process that was employed. What did these deals have in common? Where did they differ from each other? Allow your sales team to go through their typical processes with an observer that takes notes throughout the process. The observing process is critical because it could open your eyes to sales tasks and steps that otherwise would have gone ignored.
Once you have an idea of how your sales team has been going through the process, you can then map out the ideal software workflow and begin to troubleshoot potential problems. There is a good chance that your sales team already employs a majority of some of the examples that were listed above.
Defining Stage Actions
Which actions are happening at which stage of the sales process? Many companies are shocked to find that many of their tasks have been performed out of order, which can make things confusing to the prospect and reduce the chances of closing the sale. Ensure that you match each task with a stage in your sales process so that you can ensure that you are moving customers down the pipeline.
Iteration and Changes
A sales process is never a stationary thing. It can, and will, change over time. Continued observations of your processes will yield bottlenecks, ineffective tasks within the sales process, and help to make it easier for you to iterate and offer constructive changes during group discussions.
Importance of Sales Process Software
You’d be surprised how many companies are “winging it”!
They spend a lot of money hiring a great sales team but then leave that sales team to their own devices. Creating a defined sales process that still allows for thinking outside the box and using their creative side will yield the best results.
A sales process software solution will make it easier for your company to onboard new salespeople, and help to refine pitches to clients over time. Carefully planning the various tasks and assigning them to stages throughout the sales process will help you to iterate and refine those processes over time, and close more sales in the process.