Needless to say, the buyer’s journey has changed through the years.
With the internet right at the customers’ fingertips, it has become easier for consumers to research, compare, and buy products or services like never before. In addition, mountains of content such as peer and consumers review are readily available – making it easier to influence one’s purchasing decision.
As technology continues to evolve, so is the way sellers reach out to buyers and vice versa. Thus, 48% of goals businesses across the globe include improving sales funnel efficiency.
Why? Because believe it or not, sales teams love numbers. However, given the wide range of ways to measure success in sales processes – key performance metrics, ROIs, quotas, sales workflow velocity, and others – it may be challenging to determine what makes the most impact or what does not.
However, for any marketing team, defining success means understanding the entire process.
Whatever position you hold in the company, whether you are a sales manager, a sales rep, or just a sales team member, you would probably be aware of the importance of your company’s sales workflow.
So, if you want to know more about the sales process workflow and how to build one for your own company, then read along!
Understanding the Sales Workflow
Whether you are just a startup business or running an established one, there are two types of situations that you can consider an achievement.
The first would be building an effective sales process, and the second would be implementing an effective sales process software to help execute seamless workflows.
Sales is one of the most prominent functions in any business. Thus, your sales team plays a crucial role in the entire process – from finding clients during the prospecting stage down to the aftersales.
And the market has become more and more diverse. Whether in B2B or B2c, no two customer journeys are alike. Each customer’s own sales workflow depends on their needs and intent.
Remember that customers can be pretty picky, spontaneous, or even hasty at times. Thus, dealing with diverse clients may require sales reps to be dynamic and flexible. This is where good sales reps make use of their creativity and brains to achieve their sales goals, whatever kind of customers they may have.
Therefore, it pays to understand the multiple stages of effective sales workflows.
What Does Sales Process Workflow Mean in a Business?
Sales process workflow, otherwise known as sales cycle, is the set of important steps that sales teams need to follow to complete the end-to-end process of a sales cycle.
It involves predetermined and repeatable steps, which entail the process that begins with reaching out to the target audience, turning them into qualified leads, converting them into paying customers – and having to repeat the process again.
The sales process may be compared with developing a relationship with someone that you just met. Upon meeting a new person, you try to get to know each other, learn their preferences, and even determine their goals. Along the way, you decide whether they are a good fit for you and whether you can work with them for the long haul. If they are, then it can be the start of a prosperous relationship.
The sales workflow or sales process serves as the roadmap for your sales team to successfully help prospects move through the different sales stages until they decide to purchase your products or services.
Usually, companies tend to provide their sales teams with a clearly-written step-by-step process which eventually results in closing deals easier and more sales.
Sales Process vs Sales Methodology
The terms sales process and methodology often confuse people and are used interchangeably. However, these two concepts function differently in the aspects of sales.
A sales methodology is a coded theoretical ideology that guides sales reps through various sales process stages. Under sales methodology, the company’s values, vision, mission, and culture are followed.
On the other hand, the sales process talks about the series of repeatable steps followed by the sales reps to make prospects become paying customers.
For easier understanding, you can just say that the sales process is much more concerned with providing guidance on the steps that leads to closing deals. In contrast, sales methodologies talk about guiding the sales reps on how to go about these processes.
Stages of the Sales Process
Your sales team must take the proper steps in the sales process.
The proper sales process has various steps. Let us take a look at each of these stages.
1. Prospecting Stage or Lead Generation
The first stage in every sales rep process is to gain insight into their possible prospects, which heavily requires some research. Notably, this stage has different components.
This phase aims to identify and understand the ideal potential customers that fit the business. In addition, this phase helps you determine whom to contact and the goals behind reaching out to them.
The ICP makes use of factual and researched data to build an ideal yet fictional customer profile that gives the characterization of a client who fits these two main characteristics:
- Can provide company revenue or influence through closed deals
- Your company can provide value through your products or services affecting ROI and service offerings.
b. Identifying Potential Leads
In this component, the sales reps use the ICP to create a valuable list of potential customers that fit the profile. This component makes use of a variety of sources such as online databases, social media, and the like to develop a list of ideal clients for the sales pipeline.
Developing this list will depend on your business goals and specific requirements. In this lead generation process, most sales reps use applications such as LinkedIn and online databases such as Crunchbase.
Once the list is developed, you may start assigning a sales rep for the calling process.
c. Identifying Qualified Leads
You will still need to qualify leads even when working with the best online research tools. Generally, companies look for these four factors in identifying qualifying leads, particularly, needs, budget, authority, and timing of need.
What do you provide that these leads may need in terms of the products or services you offer? The main question for this qualification stage is whether or not you have what they are looking for. Remember that the primary goal of your product or service should attend to a company’s business needs.
Budget is an important qualifier for your prospects because it is a determining factor in their decision-making process for making the purchase. Therefore, it is important to take note of whether your potential leads can pay for what you offer. Check out the guide about sales budget.
In qualifying leads, one of the most important things that most teams consider is the person in authority. For example, sometimes, a sales rep can talk to a company representative only to find out that the person does not have the authority to make the purchasing decision, resulting in delays and sales process inefficiencies.
Another qualifier sales reps look into is how urgent the prospect needs for the products or services you offer. More often than not, sales processes are much faster when clients urgently need your product or service. Thus, any sales team needs to determine this urgency to quickly prepare for any actions that need to be executed such as preparing the sales pitch or documentation.
Based on these four qualifiers, a sales rep can look into additional qualifiers should there be a need to fulfill unique requirements. Other qualifiers may include company size, growth, geographical location, etc.
2. Contact and Reach Out to Your Leads
Now that you have identified your ideal client, it is time that you make connections with them during this stage.
This stage of the sales cycle can be broken down into two specific steps:
a. Identifying the best method of connection
In making connections with your prospects, it is essential to identify the best way that you can get a hold of them. For example, you may try to think of the different social networks that they use or whether they are exceptionally reachable via phone calls or emails.
In most cases, cold calls or cold emails are some of the ways most teams use to make connections with their prospects. Although, specific customers prefer do not prefer being contacted via phone calls. Thus, it is also important to consider that you and your prospects are on the same page.
Cold calls resulting in a closed deal can sometimes be a long shot. In fact, studies have shown that 80% of phone calls go straight to voice mail while 2% of calls get answered, that have resulted in appointments. Therefore, emails are a great way to make direct contact with your prospects – not to mention personalized ones!
On the other hand, cold emails have become impactful in making direct contact with prospects. Studies have also shown that 78% of decision-makers have arranged an appointment or attended an event after receiving a cold email.
In this sales activity, it is also essential to know when to make outbound prospecting. For example, sending out emails is usually best between 8 am to 10 am, and 3 pm to 4 pm as these are the moments when an account manager may not be so busy or when people are on their phones winding down.
Another way to effectively reach out to clients is through social media. Although this will depend on your target audience, when you think about it, who is not on social media these days?
A lot of sales reps earn more leads by including social media as part of their selling process. In addition, many consumers today use social media to buy products or services, do product research, and even read peer reviews which are all essential in the customer’s journey.
But in a typical marketing funnel, you are most likely to combine various platforms to reach out to prospective clients.
For example, let us say that you reached out to a client through social media, then send them an email or call them for follow-up. Also, take note of when and where they are most active.
Either way, your sales team has to become aware of the best possible way to contact your client.
Part of your sales pipeline must be introducing yourself.
In carrying out your actual selling process, you must have your objectives clearly laid out. As part of your sales process, you may have lead nurturing strategies that may entail using different demos, presentations, or other avenues, that will show your leads how your products or services will be of help to your clients.
However, in this phase, your primary goal is to establish rapport, build trust, and introduce what you offer as part of the conversation. This can help you further advance your relationship with the hopes of making closed deals.
3. Assess Your Clients’ Needs
Of course, the main objective of offering your clients your product or service is to address their pain points.
In this sense, it is imperative that you get to know more about your clients – their business goals, pain points, challenges, budget, and other essential factors that may affect their purchasing decision.
This phase allows you to get further to know your clients and understand whether they meet your criteria for your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). This will allow you to have an efficient sales process mapping as you may further identify whether a prospect can be a good match.
You can achieve a seamless buyer’s journey without wasting your sales team’s time. The secret to defining success in this phase is to communicate with prospects openly. More often than not, direct communication with clients brings you closer to achieving a successful sales process.
4. Lead Nurturing
Lead nurturing can be observed in the sales funnel’s different stages of the customer journey. It is a significant move to improve your sales by strengthening your relevance to your leads.
In this stage, you may expect tons of questions from your leads. But this is entirely normal as you have to understand that as consumers, they would want to get their money’s worth!
Therefore, it is a must that you can present to them your unique offers and the benefits they could gain from making a purchase. Even without objections, most prospects would need some kind of lead nurturing, most especially throughout the process of the sales funnel – building trust towards a well-nurtured relationship.
Nurturing leads from one stage to another can take different forms. But the main point of this activity in the selling process is to educate clients about your products or services, personalize how you communicate, and address concerns or queries.
In addition, there may be clients who may come off as interested but may not be able to engage in the current sales process. Thus, a wise move will be keeping contact and offer valuable help to stay on top of mind.
When nurturing is done efficiently, you may be able to learn when a lead wants your product and their sense of urgency.
5. Give Them Your Best Pitch
In the recent stages, it is normal that the main focus is the prospects. However, you have reached out to them, understood their needs, and educated them on their questions and concerns.
Therefore, this can be considered the best time to take all the knowledge and present the best possible offer you can give your inbound leads.
It is important to keep your offer relevant and personalized according to their needs. To improve your sales, it is important to make sure that your offer addresses their needs, budget, and long-term business goals.
It also pays to be creative in presenting your pitch for a great sales workflow.
6. Handle and Overcome Objections
As you provide everything to your prospects, it makes the final decision right from their end.
And sometimes, even when you have given everything that they need, answered all their questions, and have given a smooth pitch, clients may still have objections.
And that is okay!
Make sure that you handle objections professionally and with grace. One way that sales management teams have overcome objections is by providing clients with benefit-driven responses.
For example, a client objects to the price of your product. One great way to handle this objection is to further explain the inclusions of the pricing and how it will benefit them.
Once you have given your explanation, you can confirm whether their concern was addressed to make sure that they know that they are being heard.
Familiarizing yourself with the most common client objections can help you understand their needs further. Thus, making it easier to handle objections.
It is also important to note that to immerse yourself in their objections means to ask more in-depth questions. Make sure that you listen carefully to their answer rather than primarily preparing for your answers.
Being successful with handling objections not only helps you move to the final stage of the sales pipeline, but it also helps strengthen business-client relationships.
7. Closing Deals and Making the Sale
So you have done a great job carrying out your pitch and impressing your clients – now is the perfect time to close deals and finally make the sale.
There are two different activities involved in this stage. Let us have a look at each of them.
a. Closing the deal
If the prospect matches the ideal customer profile, you have shown value after reaching out to them, hopefully, they get eager to buy.
In this phase, your target is for them to say “yes”.
This does not only affirm the connection, but it also brings the person further through the sales pipeline where you can ask for the starting date or provide them with an extra benefit should they make the payment the same day.
These sales process steps also allow you to remind your clients of a specific result that you believe you can achieve for their business. Closing the deal may be indirect (Are you happy with the features of this package?) or direct (would you like to go ahead and finish the process of signing up?) However you want to close your deals, it pays to be a little creative.
Here are some closing techniques that can help improve your sales:
- Using the sense of urgency or scarcity technique (The promo price only lasts until midnight.)
- Offering incentives or discounts
- Adding a free trial (Why not give you time to use the product without total commitment and see how it goes?)
For example, some companies allow their clients use their product with a lenient contractual agreement of three to six months, allowing them to pay month by month. These companies have shown to outperform their competitors as they do not make their clients feel obliged about having a long-term sales contract from the first month.
There are times when despite exhausting your efforts, prospects may still seem to be hesitant. In this case, it is best to simply ask them whatever they still need to know to help them make their decision.
Once they agree and the deal is closed, it is imperative that you stay and await for questions and assist them through the next sales process steps.
If in any case, you are having an in-person meeting, offer to send them a summary email to them that is comprised of everything that you have talked about so they can review the conversation and the agreement. Find the guide about sales prospecting.
b. Follow up from the sales reps
Lastly, if despite all your best efforts the client’s answer is still “not yet”, then your company’s sales representatives should be able to include a nurturing campaign in their sales process steps.
In this case, they have to regularly check on their clients who have shown interest but have not made the commitment to purchase.
Use this opportunity to reach out to contacts hoping for better engagements and closing deals.
Best Practices to Improving the Sales Process: What Every Sales Team Should Know
As many experts say, sales in general can be considered both science and art – understanding the basic formula for solving your client’s problems while giving them a pitch that drives their decision-making.
Fortunately, achieving a perfectly seamless sales process is not just an illusory concept. Instead, it can be built and achieved.
It is no secret that sales workflow management applications such as sales CRM help define success for the customer. But more than anything it is the human touch points in your sales process steps that matter the most.
Keep the customer journey in mind and not just the workflow automation tools
It is without a doubt that sales technologies have become more advanced in helping out sales representatives carry out sales process steps and activities. However, what a sales team tends to forget is that an effective sales process should not be dictated by the tools but the other way around.
When creating a defined outline of the stages of your sales, it is important to consider your target audience rather than the kind of workflow automation tools that you have.
Try to focus on their pain points and how your products can improve their business challenges.
Map out your sales workflows according to your customer’s journey
It is important that aside from knowing what to do, your sales team should know how to do it.
In this practice, the focus is now put on the sales team instead of the clients. A lot of sales teams use flowcharts and a defined outline to aid them in this practice. It may include different process improvement efforts such as using automation systems, lead generation efforts, and marketing funnel strategies.
In this practice, you may find out whether you need a new process. With a defined process of your ideal customer journey, you can easily pinpoint what your sales team needs in order to have a smooth-sailing sales workflow.
Identify your sales workflow metrics and measure them
It is important that your sales team should be able to identify the right sales workflow metrics to use and measure them accurately.
It is important to track the multiple stages of the sales process steps before changes are implemented. This way, all your actions, decisions, and sales outputs will be based on facts, data, and trends.
Some of the key metrics that a sales team usually considers are dial-to-connect rate, email response rates, conversion rates, sales accepted rates, and close deal rates.
Have a Reliable Workflow Automation Onboard
Having workflow automation that best fits the needs of your sales team takes your sales process a whole step further.
Let us just say that a good sales process is never set in stone.
It needs to be reviewed and measured again and again. Thus, making it a consistent work in progress.
To make sure that your sales team and sales process work together like a well-oiled machine, you need a sales workflow automation tool that can help you ease all your sales processes while helping you achieve your sales goals.
With communication being one of the most important things in any sales business, you have to make sure that your sales automation tool embodies the same ideals.
Sloovi sees the importance of reaching out to your clients making it easier for you to form fast communications for both external and internal sales processes. Focus on other parts of your sales process while letting Sloovi take care of all the automation processes – making everything efficient, quick, and accurate.
Get to know Sloovi today!