Sales Process: what is it and how to build one for your company
Gain efficiency, be productive and reduce operational errors with these tips on how to define a sales process
A sales process consists of a model of rules, actions and activities used by everyone involved in the sales area. It must be teachable, scalable, measurable and predictable. With it, a gain in efficiency and productivity is expected, reducing the margin of errors in the operation. When we talk about reaching a goal, whether in the corporate world or in personal life, we need to structure a path so that it can be achieved.
If we go on a diet to lose weight, for example, it is not a simple reduction in the amount of food ingested that will cause weight loss (or, at least, not ideally, supplying the amounts of nutrients or maintaining attention doctor).
It is necessary to establish a food plan, an exercise routine, a distribution of meals throughout the day, among other actions. In short, it is necessary to establish a process .
A process can be defined as “continuous sequence of facts or operations that present a certain unity or that are reproduced regularly”.
Bringing it to the sales world, the process concept remains. Most companies have clear objectives, usually summarized in goals. Whether weekly, monthly or quarterly, sales teams, more than any other area of the company, have a clear objective to achieve, which is the indicator by which (in most cases) they are billed and evaluated.
However, the way in which the market organizes itself to reach the goals varies, going from complex methodologies to the famous “go and sell”. In some cases, the path to successful results can happen in a “forced” and unstable way and, in some cases, in an “organized” and predictable way.
What is a sales process?
A sales process is nothing more than a model of rules, actions and activities, used by everyone involved in the commercial area, and that is:
- Teachable: it must be possible to be taught to those involved, and can be used by anyone in the area;
- Scalable: being able to grow evenly, supporting the increase in demand;
- Measurable: needs to have clear indicators for analyzing results;
- Predictable: have clear expectations of results to be achieved in the period.
Of course, depending on the segment (technology, education, retail), sales model (direct sales, self service, e-commerce, wholesale), target audience (B2B, B2C, B2B2C), the way they are parameterized the above characteristics vary, so that the modeling is efficient. However, the concept is applicable in any company focused on scalable growth.
Why should I have a sales process?
Let’s look at the case of the Brazilian Soccer Team. In periods of summons for a tournament, the coach not only hires the big names of today and imposes them to play well during the matches: a long period of training and alignment is necessary for the team to play with its full mastery.
In a sales team, the reading is the same: you don’t hire a good salesperson and release them on the front line. A clear definition of a path to follow is needed.
The problem is that this is not always what happens. Many companies have their knowledge of sales operation centered on a few employees, who work based on previous experiences and practices learned throughout their careers.
However, with the constant changes that a company deals with (not only in the market dynamics, but also employees leaving), there is a great deal of rework, with consequent loss of results and productivity in the area.
As already mentioned, a process is a concept that focuses on scalable and measurable growth, with a teachable and replicable model for the sales team.
Once the sales team employees have a detailed guide of activities and actions that guide them to achieve results, a gain in efficiency and productivity is expected, reducing the margin of error in the operation. In addition, the area avoids the predominance of using practices that are not beneficial to the company’s sales model.
The overwhelming majority of companies do not have a defined sales process, allowing greater freedom of individual work for salespeople. As a result, the power to analyze the operation’s bottlenecks is lost, and precedents are created for employees to lose control over the organization of their sales routine.
The main reasons for developing a clear and defined process, in general, are:
- Ramp up sellers faster : ensure that a new seller reaches the “full” goal in a shorter time;
- Train the sales team : know what are the difficulties within the process, and standardize training;
- Helping a salesperson to evolve in their results : recognizing individual bottlenecks clearly and objectively, directing them to development plans;
- Increase commercial efficiency : mapping the area’s bottlenecks, providing inputs for improvements and efficiency gains;
- Escalate a team : support the scalable and planned growth of the sales team.
How to build a sales process for your company? See the step by step
There are a number of best practices that can facilitate the construction of a first sales process model for a company.
One of the most important points, even before the beginning of its creation, is the need for clarity and simplicity in its structure and language. The commercial team has as its main focus the attraction of new revenue for the company. That said, it won’t be rules and bureaucracies that will optimize your efforts.
Another factor is the assessment of the purchase journey from the customer’s point of view. From the moment of the first contact until the closing of the sale, we must know what are the steps that a potential customer goes through and what are the triggers that show the progress in this journey. This is an extremely important issue, which must be known (in detail) for the beginning of the creation of a company’s sales process.
In short, you can think about creating the process based on 4 main pillars:
1. Focus on the problem: what are the steps in a sale?
An important detail in the commercial structure is the definition of moments in which a prospect can be, that is, in which stage of the sale he is.
There is no standard for the number of steps required, which is a parameter that varies from company to company. However, the customer perspective can help design this path, distributing the process into clear and well-defined steps.
Try to assess the following factors for defining the steps:
- Problem diagnosis: is the customer clear about the problem we are dealing with?
- Solution to the problem raised: does the customer have an understanding of how the solution offered fits in with the resolution of the problem raised?
- Alignment of values and deadlines: was a deadline aligned for the return of the offered proposal? Are there any objections to be aligned? Has the legal bureaucratic flow (if there is a contract), payment etc. been mapped?
- Definitions of next steps: once the proposal has been accepted, has the deadline for payment been aligned?
Once the process steps are defined, define binary triggers, that is, they are not passive of multiple interpretations, making visual the steps and rules that establish the moment of a sale.
These definitions must be 100% understood by the team’s salespeople so that terms are standardized and alignments within the team and before management facilitated.
2. Define the duties of the sales team
A salesperson’s schedule must be fully populated for activities that move the goal pointer. In the sales routine, an extremely important activity is the approach of new Leads , that is, the generation of new closing opportunities for the company.
However, the origin of the Lead which the seller will negotiate can be from different sources, such as Inbound, Outbound, customer base, referrals, etc.
In addition, activities aimed at closing a new customer may require support from several other areas, such as financial, legal, product, after-sales (Customer Success), marketing and others, which can make the notion of how far the seller must act in the interface with the customer.
Another factor of great relevance is the definition of the responsibility of the salesperson and what is their role in the company, from the moment of demand generation, process documentation, financial alignments, interface with after-sales, etc.
Define activities, processes, document templates, support tools, among other resources to clearly establish which activities a vendor must perform and with which types of support.
3. Establish indicators and ideal levels of work
Once the stages and scope of a salesperson’s work have been defined, we need to have an expected basis of what is the ideal pace of work at which a salesperson should operate.
At this point in the construction of the sales process, it is necessary to have a critical and analytical view of the main operational indicators of the sales team.
Since the main activities that guide the closing of a sale are those that advance the Leads in the stages of the process, the amount of activities is an important KPI (Key Performance Indicator) .
The main commercial indicators for measuring pace and efficiency are:
- Number of activities on the day (calls, emails, meetings, proposals, etc.);
- Phone contact visits/attempts;
- Number of new businesses started (input of Leads);
- Sales efficiency (percentage of closed deals compared to new business entry);
To define ideal levels of work, a history of top performers in the area can be evaluated, as well as a benchmark with companies in the same segment.
4. Formalize the information of the created process
One of the biggest dangers, not only for the sales area, but for a company, is the double interpretation or non-execution of the defined processes. In the case of the sales team, for example, this can translate into non-compliance with a sales trigger, resulting in the inadequate advancement of a Lead to a wrong step in the funnel.
The sales process must be the primary source of information that dictates the progress and rules of coexistence of a commercial area, detailing information on funnel stages, sales forecast (and its definitions), ways to overcome an objection (and its arguments ), ideal operating levels (pace and efficiencies), Leads ownership definitions, etc.
For such documentation, some documents are commonly created for storage. It is the sales playbook accompanied by the SLA (Service Level Agreement, which we will talk about later).
The (reinforced) guidance that any information that guides the commercial team, from the beginning of their journey in the company, must be sought in the documents above is of great importance, keeping the operating standards leveled in the team.
The role of marketing in the sales process
Now that you know how to create a sales process, it’s important to say that it’s not just about the sales team. Marketing also plays a strategic role here. This is because it is this team that is responsible for managing the customers’ purchase journey.
First, the marketing team defines personas and designs the journey. Then, create materials that serve as baits to attract the right Leads. Over time, more Leads are acquired, and marketing seeks to deliver qualified contacts prepared for the commercial approach to sales. The construction of the sales funnel is also done through marketing.
These are other marketing assignments that impact the sales process:
- Customer loyalty;
- Impact on the target audience ;
- Brand management;
- Market education.
However, this is no easy task. That’s why everything is easier with an agreement between marketing and sales, which team of sales and marketing of Lahore smart city will talk about next.
The importance of the agreement between marketing and sales
It is common for sales and marketing to have no formal connection in companies. It turns out that, in practice, one area depends on the other. It is a waste of marketing to focus only on brand management, without worrying about attracting new business opportunities.
Therefore, it is necessary to create a link between the two areas, which can be done through a Service Level Agreement, or SLA. This agreement must be detailed and accessible to everyone, a template that contains the services and conditions that must be delivered and passed between the two areas.
The SLA must have information such as:
- Number of Qualified Leads that marketing must deliver for sales;
- How Leads will be passed from marketing to sales;
- What information should be sent to the sales team;
- What the sales team should do when receiving a Marketing Lead;
- What should be done with the Leads that are not accepted.
Remembering that the agreement should not be definitive: it needs to be constantly revised and updated.
Tool tips, management follow-up and hiring
There is no right or ideal time to build a company’s sales process. In practice, it is enough to have an objective of growth/organization of the commercial area, with a focus on the pillars of scalability and measurability .
In addition to the process, some other management fronts in the commercial area deserve a great deal of attention from the decisions involved.
- Sales Coaching: routine monitoring, management and alignment of management with the team’s salespeople, supporting individual planning with a focus on the goal;
- Team meetings: involve the sales team in a portion of the area’s planning, distributing goal responsibility and generating a sense of team. Promote periodic meetings, sharing the team’s focuses and objectives;
- Recruitment and selection: map the competencies and skills expected for your sales team, and assess them throughout the selection process!
- Tools and technologies: find the tools that help the team gain productivity and scale, supporting the execution of the sales process. In general, a sales CRM is enough for the management and organization of the salesperson (and management). Don’t have a CRM yet?
Ready to build your sales process?
With this information in hand, the first step is enough to start the studies for the construction of your sales process.
Again, there is no ideal time to build this process. However, one thing is for sure: waiting for the availability of time from everyone on the team is a practice that will not allow the sales process to get off the ground.
So, create a calendar, set deadlines, distribute activities (and their respective responsible), and get to work!
You can also go beyond these tips. With our eBook Sales Process: Everything You Need to Know to Improve Business Performance