Improve Your Sales Process: Do's and Don'ts
The right sales process can make or break your company. The right sales process, or steps that move your prospect through your sales funnel, can lead to a shorter sales cycle, lower churn, and higher profits.
Get it wrong, and you've got a leaky funnel, frustrated sales reps, and falling revenue.
Not a good look.
We've already covered how to build a sales process; today, we'll share how to improve your sales process so it works for you--and your customers.
5 Actionable Tips to Improve Your Current Sales Process Today
Your sales process is critical to building a successful sales process and driving key metrics. But it's not a one-and-done process. For the most effective sales process, you need to know how to improve over time.
Follow this step-by-step guide to improve the functionality of your process and build stronger customer relationships.
1. Review Your Current Sales Process
A sales process should be a living document. That's because markets change, users need shifts, and competitors switch tactics. You need to be paying attention so you can adapt your sales process.
All the meticulous planning and comprehensive documentation could easily amount to naught if you adhere to your sales process without question. Just as the process of optimizing total contract value requires continuous assessment and adjustment, the same principle applies here.
To keep growing, regularly revisit your process and look at how things have changed. Are referrals going up or down? Are the same customers converting at the same rate? Is sales performance improving?
Look at your sales reports and see if any metrics have drastically changed. If you notice some are going up (or down!), dig deeper to see if there are friction points holding customers or your sales team back.
2. Reanalyze Your Customer Journey
To make sure your sales process is working, follow the customer jy-step. This might mean working with your marketing team!
Who are your ideal customers? What characteristics made them a good lead in the first place? What types of prospects become repeat customers? This is your first step toward building your database of suspects and prospects.
Next, re-read your initial conversations. What sort of language did they use? Where did you have success reaching them? Knowing where your audience hangs out will help improve your outreach.
When you presented your product or service, what format did they prefer? Video chat? In-person meeting? Powerpoint? Write down how your ideal customer prefers to interact. You can offer that as the first option next time.
After the presentation, what objections came up? Create a shared document of all objections you've faced and how you got through them.
How did you get them to give you the yes? What language did you use? How much time did you give them? Did you have to follow up or not? Did you have to talk to other decision-makers?
Once they said yes, how did they prefer delivery? Did they ask for help setting up their accounts (which could be automated)? How often did they ask for help and were you able to help them?
Finally, when you followed up, what did they say? Were they happy to refer you to other people or give a testimonial? Do you have a system in place for gathering testimonials you can use in your own marketing?
Use this information to refine your sales process regularly.
3. Identify Friction Points Throughout Your Sales Process Funnel
As you review the buyer's journey, you might notice some friction points or leaks. These are steps where customers feel frustrated or just stop responding altogether.
Pay attention to where in the process this happens. Is it after your presentation? Right before the close? After your second outreach? Do a large number of customers churn right after closing?
Not every prospect becomes a customer. One or two lost leads falling out of the sales pipeline isn't necessarily concerning.
However, if you're consistently losing prospects or feeling pushback, pay attention.
Are fewer leads converting? Your lead generation process might be attracting leads that aren't a good fit.
Do they share similar attributes? Are they in the same industry or from similar-sized companies? You may not be addressing potential customers' pain points appropriately.
Are they falling out at a specific point in the process? That may mean there's an issue with your sales process. A step might be too difficult or not provide users with the information they need.
Ask for customer feedback and pay attention to your analytics to find these friction points. With enough data, you'll quickly see where these problems lie so you can make changes.
4. List the Criteria for Prospects to Move Along in Your Sales Process
Every action, whether it's prospecting, researching, connecting, presenting, closing, or delivering, needs to have a clear criterion to move prospects on to the next stage.
Let's say you reach out to a prospect and don't hear back. What do you do next? Move on? Wait a week? Look for them somewhere else?
For some salespeople, a no isn't a no until they hear the words come out of their prospect's mouth, whereas for others, two weeks of silence means it's time to move on.
Which is right for you?
What about when closing? How many times do you ask, and how far do you push before you are not a good fit?
Your sales process document should answer these questions clearly and concisely.
Remember, your sales team represents your company and its values. If you don't clearly lay out how to move prospects through the sales process, you'll do more than lose sales; you'll get a reputation for being pushy or annoying.
5. Measure the Results of Your Sales Process (and Iterate)
Getting the jump on potential issues will keep you at the front of the pack, contributing to sales performance management. But you'll never know if your sales process works unless you track your sales performance.
The sales KPIs you'll track will vary by company, industry, and the type of product you sell. For example, a SaaS company might track leads as well as closed deals.
Choose metrics for each step of the sales process. This will help you spot areas that need improvement much earlier.
For example, in the prospecting stage, you might track the number of leads but also the lead-to-close ratio, which helps you see how qualified leads are.
In the connecting stage, you might track response rates based on outreach channels. Do you get more responses from LinkedIn or email? What about Twitter?
Over time, you'll notice patterns you can use to adjust your sales process.
Avoid These 5 Sales Process Mistakes at All Costs
We've covered what you should do when defining your sales process. Now let's talk about what you shouldn't do. These are huge mistakes that can cost you both customers and time.
1. Not Clearly Defining Every Action in the Steps of Your Sales Process
Your sales process should be customized to your team and your company. And it should outline every single step in the sales process. In some cases, this might look more like a tree than a straight line.
Clearly define each step in the process, from how to qualify leads, when to make phone calls, and even scripts you can use to overcome objectives.
The goal of a sales process is to provide sales managers and their teams with a repeatable process, so it needs to account for differences in the buyer journey.
2. Setting the Wrong Expectations for Your Sales Team
A sales process won't take a mediocre sales team to an A+ team with no effort. It also won't limit great sales professionals from following their instincts and adjusting a potential customer's needs.
Make sure your team understands the point of the sales process—to guide the process, not stop them from following their own instincts on how to follow up with a sales pitch or what leads are most valuable.
3. Failing to Measure Your Key Sales KPIs (Goal Tracking)
Are you tracking the right sales metrics? If you want to grow revenue and scale your team, make sure you're setting and tracking the right goals.
Depending on your organization, this might include metrics beyond just sales to include lead conversion rate, monthly sales growth, sales by contact level, and retention and churn rates.
More sales is always a good thing, but make sure to track goals that highlight where the process is working and where it's not.
4. Not Analyzing and Regularly Updating Your Sales Process
I'm going to sound like a broken record here, but it bears repeating. A good sales process is constantly changing. That's because your customers and the internet as a whole are continually changing.
Right now, LinkedIn is great for B2B sales—but next year it might not be as effective. Tracking metrics and analyzing performance means you can update your process fast.
5. Focusing Your Process on Closing Deals (Instead of Bringing in the Right Customers)
We all want to close more deals, but when you focus on final closing numbers rather than bringing in the right customers, you're shooting yourself in the foot.
Bringing on customers that churn in a few months won't help your business grow.
Signing customers with a low order or lifetime value won't drive overall revenue.
Your sales process shouldn't focus on jamming as many prospects through the funnel as possible; make sure it also helps weed out customers who aren't a good fit.
A More Efficient Sales Process = More Closed Deals
The sales process serves as the foundation of your entire sales team. When sales reps know exactly what to do, they can work more efficiently. It also helps sales managers and directors quickly spot small issues before they become major problems.
Looking to improve your sales process? Close can help. Our fully-featured CRM offers the tools, reporting, and automation you need to keep your sales process running smoothly.