Most of the business leaders and sales managers we work with want to improve their sales process, but they aren’t sure if that means making a few tweaks or initiating a complete overhaul.
They come to us with the same core challenges: boosting their close rate, speeding up their sales process, and preventing a bottleneck of deals getting stuck in various stages.
If you’re tired of attempting to smooth out your sales process by trial and error, this one's for you. Here at IMPACT, we’ve helped hundreds of B2B and B2C companies eliminate wasteful guesswork and improve their sales processes.
With these tips, your team will be able to shorten their sales cycle and be far more efficient in helping grow your business’s bottom line.
Improve your sales process in 7 steps
A sales process requires constant tinkering and tweaking to get it right. If your sales process isn't working like it should, follow these steps to improve it.
1. Make sure the stages of your sales process are well defined
The first thing your team should do is map out what happens during a typical sales journey, from acquiring a lead to closing the sale.
For most companies, this looks like a flow chart of touch points, which will be unique to your business, as every company’s sales process is different.
Spend time analyzing your process and your buyers' needs. You’ll start to see a few natural stages emerge. Common stages include:
Yours may have other variations too. For example, you may have a goal-setting and planning call between the time you explore your opportunity and present your solution.
Get familiar with what happens at each stage. Think of the questions the buyer asks. Be clear about what makes someone ready to move from one stage to the next.
You should refrain from thinking of each stage as a distinct call or meeting. Yes, a five-stage sales process will often have five meetings, but there are times when it could have three or four or six or seven instead.
Remember that at each stage, some prospects will get weeded out — either because your team disqualifies them or because they opt out.
The point is to be clear about what needs to be true for a deal to move forward.
2. ...and base those stages around your buyer's needs
It always amazes us how many companies build their sales process without really thinking about what their buyers need.
Let's say you sell billing software targeted to medical offices.
What do your customers need to decide in order to buy from you?
Well, first they need to decide that the way they've done things in the past (either a different software or by hand) is holding them back and they need a change.
If they haven't made that decision, they're not ready to move on to the next stage of your sales process. They're not ready to choose a pricing tier before they decide that they're buying the software.
Yet, many sales pros are resistant to using them, and it can be difficult to get them on board.
After training hundreds of clients on how to get their sales reps using the HubSpot CRM, we’ve come up with a few tips for getting buy-in:
Explain the why. Your sales team will want to know what’s in it for them. Tell them a CRM can help them streamline communication and land more sales. It can also automate their day-to-day tasks, such as making and recording sales calls and follow-up emails — saving them a ton of time.
Organize a learning workshop. This helps your team learn not only how to use the technology, but also how other sales reps like them are doing, which can be a motivating factor. It’s also a great opportunity for your team to ask any questions they have that might be getting in the way.
Get your team’s commitment. Have them agree to use the technology, and teach them one element of the functionality at a time so it’s not too overwhelming all at once.
Hold them accountable. Set the precedent that if the action wasn’t recorded in your CRM — and accurately — it never happened.
Overall, emphasize how important the CRM is to the team's success. Without this data, it’s impossible to know what to improve and how to improve your sales process moving forward.
4. Create tools, playbooks, and checklists for each step
At each step you’ve mapped out in your prospects’ buyer journey, there should be pieces of content or tools created by your marketing team designed to help educate the buyer at that stage.
As a few examples, these could be something like:
Blog articles that explain key features of what you sell
Videos that explain your pricing structure
Buyer's guides that detail your services
Configuration tools that let the buyer customize certain options
Case studies that tell the stories of successful clients in the past
Sales reps should have a library of this content to use with prospects.
Knowing this, rather than waiting for the prospect to say, "but I just don't understand how this certain feature works," they can anticipate a question or concern and share content preemptively.
If this is something they usually hear in the explore phase, they can share content ahead of time to get this question taken care of:
I know you're likely to have questions about each feature, so I'm sending along our buyer's guide, which covers each one in depth, as well as how different features influence the final price."
The better your library of content, the more efficient your sales process can become. Better educated prospects are more likely to buy and less likely to drag their feet through the sales process.
5. Incorporate content into your sales process through 'assignment selling'
Most sales reps say they answer the same questions over and over again, in meeting after meeting. In any given sales conversation, a buyer is going to ask some general questions that could apply to any buyer, and some specific questions that focus on that buyer's unique needs.
Assignment selling helps solve for this.
Assignment selling is the process of "assigning" content ahead of a sales meeting to answer a buyer's general questions. This way, you can spend more of the sales meeting focused on the questions that are specific to that buyer. In turn, you shorten the sales cycle and help zero in on the right potential buyers earlier on.
The truth is, great content holds immense power when it comes to moving the sales needle. It saves your sales reps a ton of time and leads our prospects down the sales funnel.
A sales process is never "finished." Your process will likely need to be adjusted as you grow and learn more about your potential customers.
A couple ways to do this include:
Track the conversation rate of each stage to see which steps convert well and which don’t. For those that don’t, brainstorm ways to improve it.
Monitor call recordings so your team can learn from different interactions with prospects.
As a sales leader, go through your own sales process to see what your prospects experience.
Each of these will help you identify where there is room for improvement. Sometimes it’s as simple as using a different approach in a certain meeting or adjusting your message in a way that resonates better.
7. Train your sales team
Once your process is set up and running, and you’re consistently tweaking it for even better results, don’t forget the importance of keeping your sales team trained and up to speed on how to implement it.
Have your team listen to each other’s sales video and phone calls
Find new areas of your CRM they can master
Teach them when to use which pieces of content in specific circumstances
Role-play common objections so they're more comfortable handling them from prospects
When your sales process is well thought out and your team is attuned to your buyers' needs, selling will be smoother than it's ever been.
In fact, you'll find that it is the process and the sales materials that are doing the heaviest lifting.
Your sales improvement blueprint
A good sales process is built around the needs of your buyer. Your sales reps will serve as educators and guides who help your prospects make a purchase decision.
In order for this to be the case, sales reps need help.
They need materials from the marketing team.
They need training to be product experts and adept communicators.
And they need a sales process that leaves nothing to chance.
To get to the point where your sales process is a well-oiled machine, you need to deeply analyze, then restructure your current sales process so it works for every sales scenario.
Your company lives and dies by its ability to sell, which makes an effective sales process vital to your success.