Sales Process

If you asked each member of your sales team what their sales process was, what would they say? Would the answer be clear and concise? Perhaps more importantly, would they all give the same answer?

If you’re unsure about any of these questions, there’s room for improvement in your sales process. At SLP we’re ready to deliver just that.

One of the main reasons that sales is such an attractive career is the inherent freedom and flexibility of the job. But the best salespeople know that the key to success is structure – following proven rules, techniques and processes in order to maximise sales success.

A study by Objective Management Group found that over two thirds of salespeople don’t follow a sales process. TAS Group meanwhile found that of the companies that follow a structured sales process, 70% were classed as ‘high performers’.

At SLP our sales experts are ready to help you form a process designed for your unique situation and to achieve your unique goals. Once in place, your sales team will have the structure they need to maximise their sales potential, putting your business on track for unprecedented growth.

What is a sales process?

A sales process is a set of repeatable steps, undertaken by your sales team, that are designed to identify and attract prospects, convert them to customers, and nurture them for the long-term. No matter your business or industry, it forms the best practice path to a sale; the most efficient and effective journey possible. 

At SLP we have developed sales processes for businesses of every shape and size and in every industry you care to imagine.

The shape of your ideal process will depend on your unique situation, but even a simple, standardised sales process can add real structure and accountability to your sales activities, leading to higher conversion rates and shorter sales cycles.

Studies have shown that B2B companies that have a defined sales process experience 18% more revenue growth than companies who don’t. The reason is simple: the guided sales process steps make the path to profit far clearer and more achievable.

Why is the sales process important?

A salesperson might argue that their job is too human for a structured and systematic process to be applied to it; that no set of predefined steps can account for the nuances of sales. But the point of a sales process isn’t to replace the soft skilled human elements – it’s to enhance them. In fact, it’s the humanity of sales that drives the need for process in the first place.

Because we’re human, the flow of our sales pipeline can unintentionally slow over time due to busyness, distractions and the prioritisation of other tasks. These events can extend the time spent closing a sale without the salesperson even knowing it. And as we know, time is money.

Clients are human too. They face a wealth of subtle influences that affect the way they move to decision points.

A clear sales process ensures that the right steps are taken at the right time. These clear and timely reminders are effective in moving clients forward in their buyer journey. They ensure that the sales process doesn’t go stagnant and that every interaction has a purpose.

The benefits delivered by a clear SLP sales process are many and varied. They include:

A clear path for salespeople

We tell your salespeople exactly what they should do next to maximise the likelihood of securing the sale. This clear path removes distraction and confusion and ensures your sales team always acts with purpose.

Faster onboarding

Almost everything a new salesperson needs to know is found right there in the sales process. Learning the process is quick and easy and gives new team members the skills and knowledge they need to perform in all manner of sales situations. It also relieves sales managers of much of the usual training.

Continual sales improvement

A standardised sales process allows salespeople to experiment; to see what works and what doesn’t, where the process is held up, and test ways to convert faster or increase the value of sales. Over time your team can develop highly effective best practices that lay atop the sales process.

Better leads, increased value

An established sales process gives your team a better understanding of their sales pipeline. This grants them the ability to effectively filter out low-potential leads and focus their efforts on more valuable customer relationships.

A deeper understanding of performance

By tracking KPIs along an established sales process you’ll gain a far more accurate understanding of sales team performance. More accurate figures will also allow you to better forecast potential revenue and plan for growth.

Improved internal communication

Communication between teams becomes simpler when you’re all speaking the same language. An SLP sales process is that language, ensuring sales and other teams use the right terms at the right time.

A better customer experience

A standardised sales process ensures that you deliver the same high quality experience to every single customer, which makes the process of nurturing and building loyalty far easier.

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What are the 8 steps in the sales process?

While every business will benefit most from a bespoke sales process that addresses its unique situation, needs and goals, most feature some iteration of the steps found in the following sales process example:

  1. Prospecting: Most sales processes begin with a salesperson finding potential customers. Prospecting can be outbound, such as cold-calling or messaging a potential client on LinkedIn, or it can be inbound, where warm leads come to you through things like phone calls, emails, networking and lead generation.
  2. Qualifying: Is a prospect worth pursuing? This is the question that qualifying seeks to answer. A salesperson must work to understand whether the prospect has a need or desire for a product or service, and that they can afford it.
  3. Preparing: Proper preparation prevents poor performance in sales as much as any discipline. Whether you’re making first contact with a qualified lead or you’re about to deliver an all-important sales presentation, ensure you spend time researching the prospect so you can sell to their needs.
  4. Discovery meeting: Chat directly with the prospect by booking a discovery meeting or consultative interview. Here a salesperson is granted the opportunity to ask questions that identify the prospect’s objectives and pain points, and crystallise the potential gains you can offer.
  5. Presenting: At this stage a salesperson will need to actively demonstrate how the product or service meets the needs and/or wants of the potential customer. While the word ‘presentation’ might conjure up images of showing a PowerPoint in a boardroom, they’re often far less formal – a casual yet carefully planned conversation in which a salesperson states their case.
  6. Objection handling: Pushback is inevitable in sales, though many people aren’t built to handle it – 44% of salespeople give up on a sale after just one ignored phone call or email. But objection handling needn’t be scary – it is simply the process of listening to and addressing a potential customer’s concerns. No matter the objection – price, timing, need, resistance to change – at SLP we teach a range of effective objection handling techniques.
  7. Closing: There are any number of ways to secure a sale. You can create urgency, sweeten the deal, or even assume the sale is made then offer the client two options – the classic ‘would you like to pay with cash or card?’ close.
  8. Nurturing: The success rate of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, while the rate for a new customer is just 5-20%. This means that by increasing customer retention by 5%, you can increase profits by anywhere from 25 to 95%. This makes nurturing arguably the most important step in the sales process. It is one that demands consistent follow-up and committed support, though despite its importance, it is often the first thing to fall down a salesperson’s to-do list.

It’s important to remember that the best salespeople make the sales process their own – they learn the rules like a sales professional, then break them like a sales artist, because sometimes the most effective approach won’t follow the established process precisely. But only by gaining a deep understanding of the process can you begin to improve it. Speaking of which…

How to improve your sales process

Sales can feel like an individual sport where everyone is looking out for number one. But the most successful sales teams are exactly that: teams. The competitive urges of your salespeople shouldn’t be directed at each other, they should be directed to your competitors in the market.

You should work to develop a supportive and collaborative sales culture, where each team member works to make the others better. In this environment salespeople are more likely to share their secrets with one another. If a salesperson has found an effective way to enhance your established sales process they should be excited to tell everyone!

At SLP we can guide you on developing such a culture, where improvements to your sales process come from those who utilise it every day.

Statistics show profitability can rise close to 20% with a standardised sales process in place for your team to work from. When that process takes into account the unique ebbs and flows of your business, and how your customers purchase your product or service, that figure only rises.

How to prepare a sales process

While certain steps, such as closing, are essentially universal, no two sales processes are exactly alike, just as no two businesses are exactly alike.

At SLP we’ve built a reputation for developing highly effective sales processes tuned to the unique needs of the businesses we work with. Our processes take into account external factors such as your market, your competitors and your customers, as well as the myriad of internal factors such as your sales team, your goals and your current situation.

The development of an SLP sales process begins by reviewing all aspects of your sales approach: systems and processes, growth strategy, pipeline quality, key metrics and what you are doing with your data. We also work to understand where you want to go and the capabilities of your sales team.

From there we begin to shape a sales process that will see your sales professionals reach their potential and will allow your business to reach, and ideally exceed, its growth goals.

How to draw a sales process flowchart

The most effective way to visualise a sales process is with a sales process flowchart. This sales process mapping can bring real clarity to the process by visualising both the central sales process and the offshoots that will arise at each stage, such as the best path to follow during objection handling.

The best way to draw a sales process flowchart? Get professional help from the expert team at SLP! We have spent years refining the art and have the skills and expertise to distil a highly effective sales process into a perfectly clear and simple visualisation.

Our flowcharts bring real clarity to the key milestones during the sales process. According to Harvard Business Review, having a clearly defined, milestone-centric sales process in place, that teams follow consistently and are regularly coached against, can increase revenue by 14-19%.

No matter what shape your ideal sales process takes, our SLP experts will identify it then train your salespeople up on maximising its (and their) effectiveness. The result is a high-performance sales team capable of generating greater levels of business growth than ever before.

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