Build Your Own Sales Process: 6 Steps to Nail Your Process and Close More Deals
Converting a prospect into a customer in your sales process can sometimes feel like hitting a moving target. On a windy day. With a blindfold on. It can be a challenge, to say the least.
However, some steps can streamline the sales process and make it easier to get your next potential customers to a clear "Yes."
I’m talking about a documented, effective sales process that works for your sales team—a collection of repeatable steps you can take to move a potential customer from prospect to customer to brand champion.
A sales process means you're no longer going in blind and hoping for the best. Instead, you're using information about what’s worked in the past, to create a checklist for closing more potential clients moving forward.
Ready to create your own sales process? Here's what you need to know.
What Is a Sales Process?
Not only is this way of selling organized and efficient, but it can also lead to:
- Better deal results. A set process helps ensure every customer is treated the same way and gets the same level of service. Consistency = results
- More cash. A clear roadmap for sales reps to follow can seal up any cracks in your sales process. This helps your team close more deals and grow your bottom line
- Improved customer experience. A structured sales process gives customers a better, more streamlined experience. This can increase their customer satisfaction with your company from the start and boost loyalty
Overall, a sales process is a no-brainer for teams who want to improve everything from efficiency to customer happiness… oh, and their bottom line 💰
Sales Process Vs. Sales Methodology
I often see these two terms used interchangeably in the sales world, but there are some key differences to think about.
A sales process is a defined series of steps your team can follow to close deals, while a sales methodology refers to the broader approach a company takes. For example, a sales process will tell salespeople when to reach out to a prospect, rules for qualifying and presenting, and tips on how to handle objections.
On the flipside, a sales methodology is more about the philosophy of what a sales team wants to achieve, and the tactics they will use to get there. It's less structured and can be tweaked to fit the needs of a particular team or industry, which is ideal for companies when they are scaling.
It's not rocket science—choose the best approach for you and your team. Whether you are following a sales process or a sales methodology, the goal is the same: to close more deals and drive revenue.
Ready to revolutionize your sales? Discover the effectiveness of the Challenger Sales Model.
The Key Benefits of Creating a Well-Defined Sales Process
First touch. Sales journey. Closed deal.
The beginning, middle, and end of the sales process is simple on paper. But the perks of using one go beyond just being structured and organized. A well-planned sales process can also give your team:
- A consistent approach to problems and objections: Customers want to solve problems. That's it. A documented sales process helps you create scenarios and strategies that can be adapted to each prospect and solve their pain points. For example, the process will outline what documents to send to different ICPs and company sizes, or how to deal with a customer struggling with specific issues
- A solid plan that can be tweaked over time: Markets change. New products are released. But one thing that stays the same is that people love consistency, especially those in business. A standardized sales process increases accountability and ensures each prospect in your sales pipeline has a smoother customer experience. It also makes it easier to track sales efforts and tweak things to get better results
- The right tools to succeed in any deal: Sales is exhilarating and challenging, but some parts of it (cough follow-ups and data input) can be a snoozefest. But it's also a time suck, especially for growing companies trying to scale up their sales teams. When sales reps and account managers have the right toolkit and processes in place, they can spend more time qualifying prospects and following up with promising leads, and closing the sale rather than with their heads in a spreadsheet
- Clear goals and forecasts that define success: Last but not least, a sales process makes gathering and processing data easier and improves sales forecasting accuracy. This is good news for just about every part of a sales strategy, from creating quarterly plans to optimizing pricing models and investing in more sales reps
Sounds good, huh?
Let's take at what pieces typically make up a sales process 👇
The 8 Basic Steps of the Sales Process
If you're looking to build a successful sales process, it's important to understand the eight basic sales process steps. These steps can help provide structure and consistency to your sales strategy, making it easier to close deals and grow your business.
Here's an overview of the eight basic set of steps in a sales process:
1. Lead generation & prospecting. The first step in any sales process starts with finding potential customers or leads that are a good product fit. How you go about this will depend on your target audience, but LinkedIn, email outreach, cold calling, social media, and networking events are all solid options.
2. Qualifying. Identifying potential leads and qualifying them to make sure they're a good fit for your product or service. This step involves asking questions to find out the customer's needs, budget, and timeline.
3. Connect. Work with the prospect to identify their pain points and biggest challenges. This helps you understand how you can help solve their problems and will make it easier to tie your product into a sales pitch. Identify stakeholders and make sure they’re part of all key conversations.
4. Present, pitch, and demo. Here, you present your product or service as the best solution to their pain points. In-person meetings, sales presentations, webinars, and product demos are the most common channels
5. Objections. Prospects will often throw roadblocks down on their path to buying a product. A sales process can show teams how to handle these objections and provide reassurance that the product or service is the right fit for the prospect
6. Closing. Once objections are crushed, it's time to close the deal. This step is all about asking for the prospect's business, finalizing the terms of the sale, and getting that contract signed
7. Deliver. The job isn't over just because the ink is dry. Follow up with the customer to ensure they are satisfied with your product or service. This is the key to building long-term relationships and increasing lifetime customer value
8. Referrals. Happy clients are the secret sauce to any successful sales plan, and they can recommend more potential prospects for your business. But Sales coach Grant Cardone says 91 percent of clients are open to giving a referral—but only 11 percent of salespeople request one. Set a reminder to follow up with new customers regularly, and don't be afraid to ask for a qualified referral
These eight basic components can make up a super successful sales plan—if they are put into place correctly. Let's take a look at how to maximize each step to close more deals and grow your business 👇
6 Steps to Building a Killer Sales Process
Building a sales process is a critical step in growing your business. It helps you stay organized and focused on your goals, while also ensuring that you provide the best possible experience for your prospects and customers. Here are the key steps to building a successful sales process:
1. Find Prospects Using ICPs
The first step in any sales process is finding potential customers to sell to.
Before you start networking or cold calling, it's crucial to understand who these customers are and what they look like. One of the best ways to do that is to spend time creating Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs).
Although these buyer personas are fictional, they represent the type of company that will benefit from your product or service and outline what sales methods you should use to turn them into viable prospects. This should be based on real data from past customers and include details like demographics, goals, challenges, and pain points.
To really help sales reps out, the ICP should also include information like rough budgets, company size, and common objections voiced by similar prospects. Here's an example of a detailed ICP that includes all that:
2. Create a Sales Process Map Based on Your Customer Journey
By the time a prospect enters your sales funnel, you are already planning out how you see the deal progressing and when you will reach out to them for a meeting. Every step of the buying process, from how you will manage objections to which angle you will take in a product demo meeting, is mapped out in your head.
But for the customer? Their aim stays the same—they just want a solution to their problem.
The best way to approach this is to map out the customer's journey on paper or through process mapping software and decide how you will approach them at each touchpoint to get across that your goal is also to solve their problem (and not just close a deal). Research the company. Dig deep into the decision makers and individuals you will speak to and what their biggest pain points are. Meet them where they are in their decision-making process.
Then, use this information to tailor messaging for each touchpoint. If a prospect is at the research stage, send them some useful product information. Or if they are down the bottom of your sales funnel, reach out with some successful case studies to (hopefully) get them over the line.
So, why put all this down on paper?
Well, customer journeys can get preeeetttyyy complicated, especially in the B2B/SaaS space. Just look at this example customer journey by Gartner:
If you have already created ICPs, you can build accurate customer journeys using a template rather than creating one from scratch. A good template will provide you with a solid foundation to start with, and you can tweak the journey depending on each prospect's needs and pain points.
3. Get Your Sales Reps Involved Early On
Repeat after me: get buy-in from your sales team as early as possible in every deal.
Your sales reps are on the front lines of your sales process. They can provide valuable insights into what works and what doesn't. But more importantly, if they have skin in the game, it's easier to get them to buy into and believe in the sales process.
Let’s say you’re a software company that has just launched a new product, but your sales reps have never pitched or sold it to real-life prospects. Make a plan to bring them into the process before you start selling it to ask for feedback on features and how the product could possibly help solve your ICP's pain points.
You can then incorporate this feedback into your sales process, and it ensures your sales team has a clear understanding of why the process is structured that way. This will also help them to better qualify potential customers, prepare for initial contact, and handle objections.
4. Link Each Step in the Process to Your Sales Toolkit
The next stage of the sales process is to decide what tools your team needs to do its best work.
In my eyes, there are must-have tools at this stage, like a CRM to manage leads and sales funnels or a sales enablement platform to get the right content to sales reps at the right time.
If you're looking to optimize your sales process and eliminate time-consuming tasks, incorporating AI-powered tools can be a game-changer. Discover the benefits of AI-driven automation in streamlining follow-up tasks and maximizing your team's efficiency. Explore our article on "The Power of AI in Sales Enablement" to learn more about the transformative impact of AI technology in automating manual processes and freeing up valuable time for sales reps to focus on qualified leads.
For example, prospects don't always reply to you on your first try (or your second… or third). Instead of following up with every prospect manually, you can set up email sequences in Close so messages land in their inboxes automatically. With the power of AI, you can personalize and automate your follow-up process, ensuring consistent and timely communication with prospects.
If the prospect does reply, Close then automatically assigns calling steps to specific sales reps so they know to reach out with a phone call.
5. Set Clear Goals
Even the most detailed sales processes can unravel if a team isn't working towards a clear goal.
This should include a north star (like a quarterly revenue goal or conversion rate) alongside tracking metrics such as conversion rates, deal size, and sales cycle length.
Here at Close, we've created our sales process so reps spend time reaching out to qualified prospects or trial users throughout their day. Every rep has a set goal to make 20 sales calls each day to try and push prospects down the sales funnel.
But each team is different. You might find tracking metrics like the number of leads generated or win rates is a better motivator for your sales reps.
Setting goals and tracking metrics allows you to identify areas in your sales process that need work, and gives you the information to make decisions backed up by data. The best part about setting these goals is that you can change them at any time, so don't be afraid to experiment and try new approaches to find what works best for your sales team.
Shh… Curious about boosting B2B conversions? Delve into our guide on the B2B Sales Funnel.
6. Build Automation Inside Your Sales Process
To turn your sales process up to 11—build automation into it wherever possible.
And no, we're not just talking about automating lead follow-up emails. With the right tools, everything from outreach to lead distribution and lead scoring can be put on autopilot. This allows sales reps to focus more on selling and less on tedious administrative tasks.
We're biased, but Close has the functionality to give sales professionals their time back without sacrificing lead quality or customer relationships. For example, Close (when plugged into Zapier) can set up both random and round-robin lead assignments to send to sales reps. For example, you can:
⚡ Assign a warm lead to the SDR team
⚡ Send a high-priority lead using round robin to an AE when they hit a particular stage in the sales funnel
⚡ Randomly assign a prospect to a customer success manager in the post-purchase stage
The sales rep will get a notification that a new prospective customer has been qualified and is on their call list to follow up with.
Setting up random and round-robin lead assignments in Close just takes a couple of zaps using Zapier once everything is plugged in
Once leads start dropping into your sales funnel, Close can then give each prospect a priority score based on data like company size, funding, and industry.
A quick look at the Close dashboard will then help reps see which accounts they should focus on that day. Creating these automations from scratch so they fit your team's goals takes time and effort, but the end reward can be huge.
Sales Process Template You Can Swipe
Starting a sales process from scratch isn't easy.
You must detail how to find prospects, outline your outreach plans, and set sales goals and metrics. We have a better idea. Use this sales process template to ensure your sales process hits the mark. But don't forget to follow the steps above to ensure you outline every step in the process!
A Structured Sales Process = More Closed Deals
While it’s no magic bullet, a clear sales process is the closest thing you can get to a checklist for success in scaling your business. Put it in place, stick to it, and tweak your process as necessary.
You’ll have a repeatable way to take a prospect from an unknown stranger to a lifelong customer.
The right CRM can help your team implement your sales process, build automated workflows, and see where prospects are in real time.
Looking for a CRM to help support your sales process? Check out a free, on-demand demo of Close to see if it's a good fit for your team.