Sales

What are the Steps to a Successful Sales Process?

Identify little-known key steps to building a successful sales process.

Introduction

To gain an edge over your competitors, you need a well-oiled sales machine. There are many ways to market a product or service, but you can only have peace of mind when your whole sales staff is on the same page.

This is where an effective sales process strategy comes in. 

A sales process boosts conversions, converts more potential customers into closed deals and ensures that all of your reps give great and consistent experiences — regardless of who they're speaking with.

With the help of this article, you'll learn everything you need to know to create a successful sales process from scratch.

What Is a Sales Process?

A sales process is a blueprint for achieving sales objectives. In other words, a sales process is a set and defined series of procedures that must be followed in order to convert a potential lead into a customer. It comprises every phase of a potential customer's sales journey, from the initial contact to that final close.

Why Should I Have a Process for My Sales Cycle?

According to Harvard Business Review research, a sales process directly increases your profits. Part of the reason why this is so important is that it serves as a roadmap and guide for salespeople, ensuring that they don't skip an important stage in handling a client. It also assures everyone involved understands what steps have been taken and what's next.

Standardizing your sales process steps can also enable less experienced sales representatives to quickly catch up on best practices and learn what to do at various phases.

A good place to start is by making adjustments to the structure and operations of your sales team. For example, if you know that sourcing quality leads is the most difficult part of the sales process, you might devote more team time to that phase.

There may also be areas where a lot of your hard work goes to waste. To get the most out of your time and money, you need to clearly understand how your process functions and how it supports your sales.

The 7-step sales process

Using the seven-step sales process, you can ensure that your sales representatives are following the correct procedures. Note: it's important that each procedure is customized to your specific target audience or ideal customer in order for you to achieve the highest possible conversion rates.

Prospecting & qualifying

In the B2B sales process, prospecting is the process of finding fresh, early-stage leads to work with. It's an essential aspect of selling and a regular part of the day-to-day or weekly routine for most sales representatives.

Here, you identify potential clients and assess if they have a need for your product or service and whether they have the financial means to pay for it. Qualifying is the process of determining whether or not your product or service is a good fit.

Sales prospecting might include research on social media platforms like LinkedIn or Quora before making contact with potential clients. The same can be said for conferences and other professional gatherings. Don't rush through this step! More sales can be closed by spending time researching your leads.

Preparation or pre-approach

You'll want to do some research on your potential customers before you get in touch with them. It's important that you have all of your data organized and ready to go, including product descriptions, pricing, payment choices and rates from your competition. Of equal importance is knowing your prospects well enough to build meaningful relationships with them.

73 percent of salespeople who used social selling in their sales process outperformed their peers, hitting quotas 23 percent more often. Social selling is the technique of leveraging a brand's social media platforms to connect with prospects, build a relationship with them and engage with possible leads.

During this stage, you begin to develop your sales presentation and personalize it to the specific demands of your target customer. Be prepared to provide your prospects with statistics to back up any claims you make. You should rehearse what you're going to say in front of a mirror, and have someone ask you hypothetical questions to test your answers.

Approach

This is where the sales representative piques their interest and proposes a sales pitch. This is all about locating the right person to talk to and finding a means to convince them that your product is worth their time and money.

It's all about getting in front of someone, whether it's with a free sample or by asking questions that demonstrate your knowledge. This isn't just a show to get people's attention.

During this phase, it is critical to get to know your customers in order to know which product to place in front of them. This is a fantastic time to practice soft skills like listening, empathy, note-taking, trust-building and follow-up. .

Presentation

Your goal is to actively explain how your product or service satisfies your prospect's needs.

When you reach this step in the sales pipeline, you've gained a firm grasp on your potential customer's wants and pain points. To prove your product or service's ability to meet those specific needs, you might want to adjust your presentation. Even if you don't make a change to the actual deck, you'll want to tailor your pitch and the following conversation to showcase the specific use case.

There are a variety of ways in which you can incorporate visual and hands-on elements into your presentation. It's at this point that you can put all your research to use. 

Handle objections

In sales, rejections and objections are commonplace. As a salesperson, you need tenacity and a strong capacity to bounce back when things don't go as planned.

Your sales representatives can better serve your customers if they pay attention to these concerns and questions. And always come prepared. Sales reps should conduct thorough research to identify and anticipate potential objections to the proposed deal.

When someone says they won't be able to make a purchase until the next month, you might be able to offer them a discount if they commit to making the buy. It's also a good idea to remind the prospect of the potential costs or losses if they decide not to buy at all during the objection management stage of selling.

Closing

In the last stage, you receive the client's approval to proceed. This starts with a verbal confirmation, but isn't finalized until paperwork is signed. Typically you can ask questions to confirm next steps, such as "Will you be paying that upfront or in installments?" or "Will that be cash or charge?"

Having trouble getting that confirmation? Here are some ways to get closer to the close.

  • Close with an additional enticement: Incentives like a free trial or a discount can help nudge the prospect toward making a purchase.
  • Create a sense of urgency: "The price will be going up after this month" or "We only have six spaces left" are examples of urgency-inducing phrases.
  • Make clarifications: If the potential customer is still unsure after all of this, it's usually best to clarify what else they need to know before making a decision.
  • Maintain contact: After you've sealed the sale, answer any last-minute questions and outline the next steps.
  • Send a follow up: Offer to send them and their assistant or superior an email summarizing your chat and agreement if you're meeting in person.

Follow-up

Your work doesn't end when the sale is complete. For both repeat business and recommendations, the follow-up step keeps you in touch with customers you've closed.

You will be able to up-sell and earn repeat business more readily if you maintain good customer relationships. Customer connections are essential and much less expensive than pursuing a new lead.

Keep your clients informed about new offerings and solicit their input on how you might improve their experience. Don't be scared to ask for referrals as well. You’ve earned them after a successful sale!

How to Build an Efficient Sales Process

It's important to follow these steps in order to develop an efficient sales process that helps you consistently close more qualified leads.

Analyze the current sales process

Take a look at your existing sales plan and see what's working and what isn't working for you. This might help in creating a plan that's specific to your company. A company's bottom line is directly impacted by sales. As a result, when formulating a strategy, be careful to consult with all relevant parties.

Just keep an eye on your sales rep while they close the last deals in the buying process. Was there a common denominator among them all? What are the most common points of contact?

Consider how long the entire process took, and objections the consumer raised. Once you have an idea of the timeline, you can identify areas of inefficiency and discover strategies to eliminate them.

Set up a buyer's journey

In many cases, this is the single most critical step that most organizations overlook. A buyer's journey forces you to see things from the perspective of your customers. You need to understand:

  • How they interact with your sales representatives
  • The issues they encounter
  • What solutions they need

This helps you better serve each persona. As customers progress through the buyer's journey, tweak each phase to more clearly match their needs. Break down your customer cycle to see where there are gaps to fill.

Get prospects motivated with defined scenarios

Another huge advantage of segmenting the buyer process is an ability to see what materials push a prospect to the next step.

When the time comes to actually buy the solution, you'll have built up a level of trust as a result of solving those pain points. Work with your sales rep to identify the frequent concerns that clients have at various phases of the sales process. Then, come up with content and solutions to address these issues.  

Establish a good lead qualification process

There are sure to be some leads that aren't targets and are unlikely to move forward. Your sales team should be able to quickly identify and eliminate these names from the list. Using CRMs or other tools, you can narrow the search only to high-quality prospects. Then, investigate those low-quality leads to see what led them to your business. What can you change there to more accurately hit your target demographic?

Systematically measure sales efforts

There is always room for improvement in the sales process, and we bet your team is full of ideas and methods to try. Optimize processes with a system that tracks the progress of every effort.

To be successful, you need a well-coordinated team and targeted marketing to reach your intended audience. Identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that most accurately reflect the success of your sales plan. Lead generation, lead conversion, churn rate and revenue earned are a few examples of possible KPIs. Your sales and marketing goals will dictate the goals you set for yourself.

Change the way you sell for the better

Adaptation is crucial. Consumer behavior and market trends change at a breakneck pace. It's time to abandon outdated methods.

Adopt customer-centric thinking and remain open to new methods. Change is inevitable, but easily integrated if you have strong systems in place and a clear understanding of your company's goals.

Develop and document your sales processes to ensure everyone's on the same page and help your team convert more leads. This ensures that every customer gets a consistent (and excellent) brand experience.

Even the brightest sales teams can underperform if they lack a solid process. Take advantage of the right information, tools and techniques to help your team succeed.