Following on from our previous article focused on aligning your marketing and sales teams, we are providing some nuggets from our playbook to both guide and align your sales process and sales teams efforts.
Here are the key ingredients for a winning sales process!
If you ask most sales leaders and executives if they have a sales process, they’ll immediately say “yes”. However, when you ask them to describe their sales process, their descriptions vary wildly; this is a major risk to capitalising on all the hard work drawing attention to your company, right?
We observed this key sales issue while conducting our coaching programs for sales teams titled ‘Cracking the Sales Code’. Without a common understanding of the term ‘sales process’, sales managers cannot coach or communicate with their sellers effectively. They also find issues when trying to automate, measure, and improve their sales process; this is our challenge!
Our coaching sessions revealed basic sales processes that encompass the most important activities of every salesperson’s daily effort. Incorporating defined processes can make it easier to measure, manage, and coach salespeople. Having clear definitions for your sales process is the basis for your team’s success.
The Sales Processes You Need:
- Call Management
- Lead Qualification
- Opportunity Management
- Account Management
- Deal Management
- Sales Automation
1. Call Management
In the call management process, there are typically three stages: planning, execution, and debriefing. During the planning stage, salespeople should have clarity around the following questions:
- What is the objective of the sales call?
- Which questions should you ask?
- What objections or ‘friction points’ do you expect to encounter?
During the execution of the sales process, teams should rely on their planning and preparation to guide the call, while still being attentive and allowing room for flexibility- if the conversation doesn’t go as planned.
When it’s time to debrief, it’s always helpful to bring on a peer or a manager that can provide feedback on what went well, and what could be improved for the next call. This is also a great opportunity to reflect on any questions that didn’t get a chance to be asked, or to consider solutions to objections they were not able to resolve during the call.
2. Lead Qualification During the Sales Process
Sales teams need to take a systematic approach to qualify leads early in the sales process. Having a process for qualifying leads provides a valuable gut-check so they know what to look for when engaging with leads.
By having a specific set of criteria to look for when qualifying leads – along with a consistent set of questions they can ask in initial sales calls – sales people will be better prepared walking into their initial conversations with prospects, and can feel more confident when pursuing the right leads for
As team members are qualifying leads in their pipeline, here are some key points they can consider:
- Does this potential customer fit your ideal customer profile?
- Is this individual the appropriate decision-maker for this purchase?
- Does this potential customer have the budget to pay for your products or
Answers to questions such as these are be helpful for qualifying and disqualifying leads as needed. Ultimately, when your teams are selling to the right people, their job and sales process as a whole will be much smoother.
3. Opportunity Management
In sales, an opportunity is a highly qualified lead that is likely to buy. The opportunity management process helps sales teams source and track sales opportunities throughout their pipelines.
Many sellers engage in opportunity planning when they pose questions such as:
- What business problem are you trying to solve for the customer?
- Who are the stakeholders you need to engage with?
- How will you position yourself against the competition?
Once they’ve entered the pipeline, teams can closely track and document how opportunities move through the sales process, noting what methods of communication and sales tactics work best when converting opportunities into customers.
4. Account Management
The account management process maximises the long-term value of select customer relationships by continually aligning your company’s capabilities with the needs of your customer. This process often ramps up after the initial deal has closed to ensure the success and satisfaction of the customer.
Account plans are perfect to guide your account management strategy by answering questions such as:
- What are your company’s goals for the relationship?
- Do you know the customer’s business needs? What are their pain points?
- How can I showcase what is possible and ROI to help deal with their pain?
- What plan of action will keep the relationship healthy and profitable?
- What is the buying process?
Though the role of account management often falls to account managers – not sales reps – both the account managers and sales reps need to maintain alignment on how best to transition customer accounts. This usually entails a debriefing period where sales reps prepare account managers to take over the account, providing the insight they gained while making the sale.
5. Deal Management
For sales teams, deal management involves having an aligned approach to revenue-generating initiatives. This sales process tracks the workflow of a sales deal from beginning to end- providing valuable data and insight into ways the process can be optimised for more sales.
6. Sales Process Automation
Sales teams can use AI-powered tools to automate mundane tasks, cutting back on the time spent performing admin while driving efficiency in their sales processes.
Begin automating sales processes for your team by performing a time audit. Have your team members and managers track tasks they perform in a week, and how long each task takes them. With this data, your team can identify opportunities to streamline your efforts.
Some common processes sales teams choose to automate include:
- Sales reporting— Reduce the number of systems your team pulls reporting information from. Use tools that provide all the reporting you need from within one platform.
- Creating CRM records— Setup workflows to automatically create new contacts and deals in your CRM so sales people don’t have to.
- Email templates— For common emails create a set of templates reps can easily replicate and customers without recreating the wheel.
- Proposals— Creating quotes and proposals can be easily streamlined by integrating software with your CRM.
Wondering if you need to implement all seven of these processes?
Not exactly; the efficacy of a sales process will vary depending on the individual who is using it, and the strategic direction of the business.
There are discrete sales processes, and each process has a particular application to specific sales roles. If your sales processes aren’t aligned to the role they’ll quickly be abandoned. There’s no such thing as a bad sales process – just the wrong sales processes.
If you have no formal sales processes in place, now is a good time to implement them. If you have the wrong sales processes in place, you’re likely frustrated.
However, if you have the right formal sales processes in place, you’re in a position to become a sales management rock star. You can confidently align, measure, manage, and coach your salespeople to higher performance through more consistent execution of their most important activities.
If you are interested in learning how to hire your next sales superstar, check out our ‘Winning Formula to Recruitment’.