A sales process is a series of repeatable steps that the entire sales team needs to follow. These steps map out a clear framework for any sales rep to move prospects from lead to close.
Although processes can sometimes seem very constricting or even oppressive, it does not need to be. It simply needs to be consistent. By adopting a sales process, the unpredictable nature of magical deals from top sales reps can be transformed into systematic and repeatable wins.
Most companies tend to either (1) have no sales process or (2) have several sales processes. The former is usually a result of growing too fast. While the latter, being even more common, results from organizations that have tried different things over the years and/or hired new people who brought over their old processes. In both cases, the lack of a single sales process creates difficulties in managing sales, driving the pipeline and facilitating collaboration.
5-Step Sales Process
In sales, it is essential to understand what it takes to move a lead from one stage to the next of the sales process.
1 | Prospect
Prospecting or lead generation involves finding potential buyers based on a defined ideal customer profile. Leads can be found via email, social media, cold calling, industry events and other channels. This stage of the sales process usually takes up most of a sales rep’s day-to-day work, but is a vital part of the process to build top of funnel.
2 | Discover
A discovery call is where a sales rep can learn more about a potential customer. The objective is to gather as much information as needed to build a complete view of the customer’s situation. Learn about aspects such as the customer’s pain points, buying process, key stakeholders, and other alternative products they are considering.
3 | Qualify
This is the most important step of the sales process (next to Close). Beyond assessing whether a prospect’s needs align with what a sales rep is selling, it is important to consider other core factors that contribute to a potential close.
In qualifying a prospective client, keep “BANT” in mind:
- Budget – Do they have the budget to purchase the solution being sold?
- Authority – Does the current contact person have the authority to make decisions?
- Need – Do they have a pain or challenge that can be solved by the solution being sold?
- Timeline – Is there a firm timeline of when the client’s challenge must be solved?
4 | Develop
Once a lead is qualified, the goal of the Develop stage is to thoroughly educate the prospect on the solution and handle any objections. It is crucial to build clarity around why this particular offering is the best option for solving the client’s challenges. Particularly, in a B2B environment, this includes how to increase revenues, reduce costs or save time.
To satisfy this stage, sales reps will need to ensure that the prospect understands the following:
- Why buy this solution?
- Why buy it from us?
- Why buy it now?
5 | Close
This is the stage that every sales rep works toward. All the mechanics of closing the deal are handled during this step, such as negotiations, contracting, legal approval, finance approval, and etc. Once a deal is closed the sales rep will usually pass the account off to an account manager for onboarding and further support.
Key to Successful Deployment
Developing a sales process is foundational to ensure all prospects the same sales experience and every sales rep
Success starts with commitment from the leadership team. In order for the entire team to commit to the process, it is crucial to have buy-in from the leaders of the business. If any element of the process does not work, change it. There may be many temptations to deviate from the process or find shortcuts, especially during crunch time to meet sales targets. But a strong commitment across the team can help mitigate these issues.
With buy-in from the team, alignment then becomes the key focus for sales process deployment. Often there are multiple roles in support of the sale, such as:
- Sales Development Representatives (SDRs)
- Sales/Solution Consultants (SCs)
- Legal (e.g. for contracting)
- Management Team (e.g. for approvals and support)
- Partners (e.g. for services and integrations)
- Marketing (e.g. for campaigns)
- Customer Success (e.g. for post-sale handoff and onboarding)
All supporting functions must align to ensure the sales process is properly orchestrated.
Once commitment and alignment has been achieved, it is critical to maintain consistency. All of the following elements must be consistent with the sales process:
- CRM tool accurately reflects the stages, activities, and gates
- Sales Playbook includes guidance and sales enablement tools aligned
- Reporting cycles and pipeline reviews are consistent
Start Building Your Sales Process Now
No better time to start than right away. Planning and mapping out your sales process will ultimately help your business drive more leads and close more deals.
By following the steps to build a sales process tailored to your business, you can ensure that your team will deliver a consistent sales experience to every prospect. Start on this today!