How to Create a Sales Process to Win More Deals (2022)

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With the ever-evolving complexities and individualities of every prospect, the art of sales now resembles a game of chess. 

Like a chess master, successful sales reps must think ahead on what their next move will be. At the same time, they also need to be gauging the other player’s strategy. 

In order to forge a path to successfully win deals, sales teams must have structure to their strategy that allows them to anticipate their prospect’s present and future behavior, as well as to prepare their next move. 

With an effective sales process, this work is already done, and all you must do is close the deal.

Stages of the Sales Process

  • Prospect
  • Lead qualification
  • Company research
  • Pitch
  • Objection handling
  • Close
  • Nurturing

What is a Sales Process?

A sales process is a sequence of steps that sales reps use to guide a prospect from lead to closed customer. A solid process helps sellers consistently close deals by providing a framework that implements best practices.

Sales processes provide sales reps with clear guidance and structure for customer interactions. With a sales process, you’re able to identify, qualify, and convert leads in a more unified, structured way. 

A documented sales process not only helps reps identify, qualify, and convert leads, but it also makes the process of doing so more efficient. A sales process empowers your sales teams to easily follow repeatable steps and ultimately improve measuring, forecasting, and general management of sales. Consistency and efficiency is the name of the game in sales, and having a sales process in place helps sales organizations drive their sales acceleration strategy. 

7 Stages of the Sales Process

The entire sales process – from deciding who your target audience is, selling to them, marketing them, servicing them, to having them stay with you and promote you ongoing – needs to be intentional. 

Outlining each stage and what is expected provides purpose to conversations and actions your sales team conduct throughout the process.

Below are some of the common stages you’ll find in most sales processes:

1. Prospect

The initial stage of the sales process begins with determining your target audience. This first step is all about identifying your ideal customer profile, pinpointing those prospects, and eventually connecting with them. 

Consider who would benefit from your product or service and how you’ll contact them. You can consider people you don’t know, people you do know, and people that your people know.

2. Lead qualification

Often referred to as the discovery stage, lead qualification dives into prospect discovery. You don’t want to waste time and resources trying to connect with and sell someone something they don’t need, so it’s important to gain an understanding of whether or not they’re a good fit. 

Connect with each lead to determine what kind of problem they’re trying to solve, other solutions they’re evaluating, and how much of a priority it is for their business.

3. Company research

The company research stage intends to get a firm grasp on what prospects are looking for in a solution. These should be strictly qualified leads at this point.

Like every stage, it’s important to ask the right questions. Asking questions helps your reps put themselves in the customer’s shoes to offer a more tailored and personalized experience, ultimately improving the likelihood of closing a deal. 

The crucial part of this stage is understanding each prospect’s unique challenges so you can frame your product or service as the solution.

4. Pitch

The company research stage intends to get a firm grasp on what prospects are looking for in a solution. These should be strictly qualified leads at this point.

Like every stage, it’s important to ask the right questions. Asking questions helps your reps put themselves in the customer’s shoes to offer a more tailored and personalized experience, ultimately improving the likelihood of closing a deal. 

The crucial part of this stage is understanding each prospect’s unique challenges so you can frame your product or service as the solution.

5. Objection handling

Objections are a natural part of sales. People are going to ask questions or try to find holes in your service or product and its relevance to their needs. These questions and concerns should not only be anticipated but viewed as an opportunity to show your value and maximize conversions. 

If your sales reps can seamlessly manage objections and instantly put a lead’s mind at ease, the odds of them converting increase tremendously. Your reps won’t feel pressed to think on their feet and can provide logical explanations or solutions to debunk their concerns. Be Come prepared with solid ways to address these objections head-on and be ready to read between the lines.

6. Close

Closing a sale is what every salesperson wants to achieve. It should result in a mutually beneficial, contractual agreement between the prospect and seller. 

The closing stage involves everything you need to do to get your prospect to sign a contract and become a client. This could include delivering a proposal based on verbally agreed-upon terms, getting buy-in from all the decision-makers, or making final negotiations on the price.

7. Nurturing

Some people may refer to this final step as the follow-up stage, but it’s really more than just touching base and doing a quick connect. 

It’s expected that you’ll follow up to ensure you’ve delivered on your promise, but you also need to continue to maintain a healthy, connected relationship with your client. Continue to communicate and reinforce the value of your product or service, and ask questions about expectations and additional support. Well-nurtured customers can also provide a significant source of referrals, making them a priceless lead source in themselves.

From prospecting to the closing of the deal, everything is streamlined with a sales process. The different stages give you clarity and provide a direction to convert a prospect into a paying customer. It is one of the best ways to keep the sales momentum going.

Sales Process vs Sales Methodology

You may have heard sales process and sales methodology being used interchangeably – many confuse the two, but they’re really two different concepts that work together harmoniously. One is about what you do, and the other is about how you do it. 

As we’ve discussed, the sales process is a set of steps that have a defined start and end. The sales process has different stages, activities, and verifiable outcomes. 

Your sales methodology is all about the nonlinear practices and strategies your sales reps use to make decisions and take action – ie. how they approach the sales process. Your sales methodology supports your sales process.

If you have the methodology but don’t have the structured process, you’ll have inconsistent results. If you have the process but not the how-to, you’re not going to see as impactful of results as you could. 

Empower your sales team by pairing your process with your methodology.

6 Benefits of Creating a Sales Process

Building a sales process is necessary to your company’s success – and if you’re a sales manager, is perhaps the most important thing you can do to influence your team’s ability to sell.

Here are six benefits of mapping out your sales process:

1. Provides structure and sets expectations

A well-defined sales process provides structure and set expectations for your sales activities. Without it, your sales reps are left without a roadmap to follow or clarity on how to guide their prospect through the sales journey.

The structure of your sales process helps keep your sales reps organized and makes it easy to track their progress through the sales cycle with each prospect. Knowing which action follows another sets you up for seamless transitions between stages and makes the entire process feel unified and purposeful for both your sales reps and prospects.

A sales process also empowers managers to continuously coach on an individual and team-wide basis. It serves as a handy guide for your sales rep to make sure they don’t miss – or mishandle – a crucial step when trying to convert a lead.

2. Hold people and processes accountable

With a standardized sales process, it’s easier to hold processes and employees accountable for following best practices that are proven to yield results.

Being able to pinpoint performance gaps within your practices or personnel allows you to address them head-on and reduce low-performance days. If a step is overlooked or not executed as intended, you have a formalized process to reference in training opportunities.

3. Move leads through the sales funnel more efficiently

Knowing what to do after each action allows your sales reps to approach each stage with intention and confidence, making the flow seamless and efficient. 

Think of your sales process as a map. Having a high-level view of how you’re going to get from your starting point to your ending point when you know where to go in between makes the journey a lot easier. It helps eliminate time and effort that’s often wasted on unproductive and distracting behavior. 

For managers, establishing a standardized sales process for your sales team allows you to concentrate on the things that are required of your role: mapping, assigning out leads, prioritizing tasks, managing your team’s time and workload better, and making more accurate sales forecasts.

4. Onboard new hires faster

A defined sales process seamlessly streamlines the new-hire onboarding process. Not only does it outline the steps new sales reps need to follow, but it also highlights the behaviors and actions that are required for each stage of the process, the outcomes that are expected, and what individual strengths and skills should be flexed during those interactions.

Coaching new sales reps becomes more efficient when you have a standardized sales process in place. It’s one of the best ways to acquaint new reps with your company’s selling style, and they can easily learn the basic steps and get started more quickly. Faster onboarding means making client connections sooner.

5. Provide a better customer experience

The sales process isn’t just about completing the steps that turn a prospect into a closed customer– it’s about really connecting with consumers and providing an organized, empathetic, supportive customer experience.

Buyers are more empowered, better informed, and have more options than ever before. Businesses that align their sales processes with their customers are able to provide a more impactful, tailored experience. Over time, your sales reps can come to understand their pain points and can confidently offer solutions that make their lives easier. This results in customer satisfaction and loyalty, consistent sales, and ultimately, business growth.

6. Create more accurate sales forecasts

Having a clear picture of where your salespeople are in the sales process helps managers come up with more accurate sales forecasting. Because a sales process is a set of repeatable steps, it gives a more consistent picture of how many deals your team closes from a given number of leads, which allows you to predict your win rates and set quotas with more accuracy. 

Businesses with defined sales processes are better equipped to forecast bookings compared to those who don’t. As a result, your sales team may adjust or tweak processes as needed to make sure your process is operating properly.

5 Ways to Improve Your Sales Process

Once you’ve determined and documented your sales process, your job isn’t done. The key to a successful sales process is to continuously monitor and adjust your approach to ensure you’re maximizing your talent and resources.

Here are five ways to improve your sales process:

1. Assess your current sales process

The first thing you should do when deciding how to improve your sales process is to assess opportunities and gaps within your current process. Talk to your sales reps to get a better understanding of their practices and behaviors to date– how they’re approaching the different stages, the way they approach and communicate with prospects, common issues or objections they face– and dive deeper into any gaps, inconsistencies, and areas of opportunity. 

Consider what is working – and almost more importantly, what isn’t working for your sales reps. Knowing what needs to be adjusted or where hiccups in performance arise allows you to tailor your process to fit their needs better and empower them to close more deals more effectively.

2. Approach with a customer-centric mindset

Oftentimes, sales managers create a sales process that reflects the way they want to sell, not the way their consumers want to buy. When you approach your target persona with empathy, you’ll gain insight into how you can tailor your sales process to ensure your team has everything they need to nurture strong relationships with prospects and close more deals.

Take a step back and look at your sales process from the perspective of your prospects and current customers. By doing so, you’ll understand their needs better, as well as how to present your product or service as an ideal solution more effectively. A little empathy and reflection go a long way.

3. Define actionable criteria that advance the sales flow

Defining what actions cause prospects to move from one stage of the sales process to the next makes it easy for you to encourage and guide those actions – and more importantly, get rid of roadblocks and any activities that don’t yield impactful results. 

Identify action and exit triggers and define the criteria for each step so your sellers can support prospects as they advance through the process. Make sure your sales reps are equipped with adequate brand knowledge, a sales pitch script, and other resources to navigate the conversation when those criteria are met.

You should also look to create CRM workflows that automate manual tasks and allow sales team members to sell more efficiently.

4. Set and measure benchmarks

Once you’ve defined your sales process, you’ll want to determine your benchmarks and continuously measure your performance against them to ensure your practices are strategic and aligned.

Here are some other examples of metrics to set benchmarks for in your sales process:

  • Churn rate
  • Average time prospects stay in each step
  • The step that takes the longest
  • Percentage of prospects who request a demo after a discovery call
  • Percentage of prospects who close after a demo

These are just a few of the basic metrics that sales teams find value in measuring. Give some thought to your sales metrics that are specific to your business and will help you define success or the need for improving your process.

5. Invest in better sales rep onboarding and training

The sooner your sales reps get onboarded and trained on your processes and best practices, the sooner they’ll be able to make prospect connections and turn them into customers. 

Getting new salespeople up to speed quickly is a key factor that distinguishes businesses from their competitors. By investing in better sales onboarding and training, you’re enabling your new sales reps with the skills and knowledge they need to move through the sales process successfully.

With Whatfix, you can create personalized and engaging sales training and onboarding content, empowering your new hires to learn in the flow of work. Whatfix directly integrates with all CRM (customer relationship management) tools and sales enablement software, allowing teams to build on-demand onboarding and training content directly in-app.

whatfix-for-in-app-salesforce-training

How to Measure the Success of Your Sales Process

Not only is it important to formalize a sales process for your sellers, but you also need to know if the process is working by measuring and constantly monitoring the metrics and goals that are important to you. You can’t improve what you don’t measure.

Breaking down the sales process into stages allows you to set more specific goals to track along the way. It’s easier to digest all of the great insights your data provides when you differentiate the stages and address the information in a more tailored way.

Here are some of the things to consider when measuring the success of your sales process:

  • Accuracy of sales forecast
  • Process adoption
  • Individual sales quota attainment
  • Average length of the sale cycle
  • Lead-to-opportunity conversion
  • Opportunity-to-close conversion
  • Customer lifetime value
  • Customer churn

Use your defined KPIs to predict your future performance, decide what changes to make to your product or sales approach, and evaluate the performance of your sales team.

6 Common Sales Process Mistakes

Making mistakes and learning from them is part of the sales profession. It’s all about trial-and-error, and continuously refining your processes to keep up with the constant evolution of the industry and industry consumers. With every mistake or misstep comes new opportunities to improve, and knowing the common mistakes sales reps make can help you stay proactive in avoiding them in the first place – or at least learning how to bounce back from them.

Here are six common sales process mistakes and how you can avoid them:

1. Lack of process structure

A sales process structure is your map to converting a lead and helps you optimize the entire prospecting process. Not having that structure leads to wasted time and inefficient functioning across your sales team.

Outlining specific, structured steps in the form of SOPs and process documentation that allows your sales reps to move prospects from one stage to the next more intentionally and efficiently. If you don’t identify the stages and triggers that take you through them, you’ll have an inconsistent strategy that yields unreliable results. You’re also less likely to have a poor understanding of what is and isn’t working for prospects, which can lead to inaccurate forecasts and lost leads.

Determine the stages you’d like to incorporate in your sales process and how you’re going to approach them. That bit of structure will help guide your sales reps as they navigate the sales process with their prospects.

2. Treating all prospects the same

The key to a successful sales process is to make each stage relevant and personalized to each lead – it should by no means be looked at as a one-size-fits-all approach where sales reps handle two unique prospects the exact same way.

Given that the needs and complexities of your prospects differ, unique approaches, methodologies, and ways of managing your sales process will need to be practiced. Consumers and consumer trends are fluid, so it’s important for your sales rep to be flexible. A documented sales process is meant to serve as a guide for your sales reps, which means it should provide structure but be flexible enough for your sellers to tailor the experience to each prospect.

3. Prioritizing closing over customer experience

We’ve all experienced a pushy salesperson – the kind who clearly only cares about closing. When sales reps force prospects too quickly through the stages of the sales process before they’re ready, it can not only damage the relationship, but also completely shut the deal down. 

A well-designed sales process that focuses on the customer instead of closing can turn a forceful and inauthentic sale into a positive customer experience and relationship. Take each stage step by step, read the mood during each meeting or call, approach each conversation appropriately, and show empathy for your prospect. Your focus should be on showing value to your prospects – not on hitting quotas and closing deals.

4. Neglecting KPIs

KPIs help you understand your sales team’s performance – both your success and your areas of opportunity. If you fail to determine what metrics matter to your business, you won’t be able to demonstrate your value to prospects or current clients.

If you’re not regularly monitoring your KPIs, it will be difficult to determine which areas eras of your process need nurturing or development. KPIs tell a strong story in most sales cases, so it’s important to equip your sales team with metrics that can lead to informed, intentional discussions and decisions.

You can keep track of your KPIs automatically using your preferred sales dashboard. Your CRM might also provide basic performance metrics, which you can then use to adjust your existing sales process. 

By using Whatfix Analytics, you can receive insight into where employees are underutilizing your CRM application so you can ensure your sales team is keeping tabs on important metrics and actions.

whatfix-faq-analytics

5. Highlighting features, not value

Getting to demo your product or service is one of the most thrilling parts of your pitch – you get to show off the flashy features that drive interest and engagement. While it’s tempting for reps to lead a sales pitch touting product features, the issue is that prospects aren’t necessarily looking for features – they’re looking for solutions. Solutions with value.

Describing the features of your product or service without mentioning the benefits doesn’t translate into much of an urgent need for your prospects. Focus on the problem they’re dealing with and offer your product or service as a solution, highlighting the benefits and differentiators. People want your product to help them achieve their goals and remedy pain points, so focus your energy on how your business can help them do so.

6. Failing to follow up

One of the simplest and arguably most influential ways of increasing your chances of landing a sale is following up with your prospects punctually. 

When nearing the end of the sales process, many sales reps often don’t prioritize following up with potential customers, which can send all your efforts down the drain. Follow-ups keep the desire to buy alive, and a standardized sales process will always remind you when to follow up with a prospect and keep a healthy sales pipeline. 

A great way to be proactive about this is by setting up a calendar reminder to contact your prospects after a designated amount of time. It’s a great way for your sales team to work smarter and not harder. Be sure to come to the follow-up meeting with notes from your previous discussions, and prepare for common or expected objections or questions.

How to Automate the Sales Process with Whatfix

Given that a considerable part of the sales process is repetitive, each stage has a task that can be automated: prospecting leads, sending emails, and tracking metrics are a consistent part of the salesperson’s routine. Once a prospect is converted into a lead, the activities are again clockwork and can be also automated for maximum efficiency.

The most efficient way to automate these tasks is by utilizing a CRM platform. Whatfix improves CRM adoption with in-app training, guided onboarding, and self-service knowledge bases to maximize productivity.

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With Whatfix, you can guide sales reps to complete everyday tasks such as managing pipelines, creating custom quotes, and closing opportunities more efficiently – reducing the challenges and errors sales reps may make.

Learn more about how Whatfix for sales teams empowers organizations to win more deals now!

Sales Process
FAQs

A sales process is a sequence of steps that sales reps use to guide a prospect from lead to closed customer. Sales processes provide sales reps with clear guidance and structure for customer interactions. 

One is about what you do, and the other is about how you do it. 

Your sales process is a set of steps that have a defined start and end. The sales process has different stages, activities, and verifiable outcomes. 

Your sales methodology is all about the nonlinear practices and strategies your sales reps use to make decisions and take action – ie. how they approach the sales process. Your sales methodology supports your sales process.

  • Prospect
  • Lead qualification
  • Company research
  • Pitch
  • Objection handling
  • Close
  • Nurturing
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