In modern sales culture, nothing should be left to chance. How you define your sales process determines the results you get. Closing a good deal isn’t a lucky break, but the logical conclusion of some healthy teamwork and efficient sales processes that should be natural to your organization. Before Belkins was founded we had discovered the cost of not implementing organized processes in B2B sales. It’s all down to experience, we learned that lesson so you won’t have to! Here is our overview of the sales process, how to organize it, and why you should take these steps for success in B2B sales.
What is the sales process?
It seems like a simple question although the answer can be fairly complicated. Even so, you must know the answer before you start planning your campaigns and setting benchmarks. Briefly, a sales process is defined as a number of steps directed towards boosting referrals, closing deals, and increasing margins. However, it’s up to you to decide exactly how you take those steps. Every industry has its own cycles and specific requirements and so you must calculate your moves in the sales process accordingly. Nevertheless, some things are fundamental for every kind of business out there, so we’ll elaborate on those.
How to implement a sales process in your team
A sales process is a system that benefits your profits and your employees. It’s a set of guidelines that help you navigate through your sales routine and rules that make things more orderly for your team. If you work with multiple departments you know the importance of good communication and understanding. With an organized sales process, that’s what you get.
Pinpoint complications. Within a sales process, you can easily divide the work into blocks. With that segmented approach, assisting your team members as soon as they identify problems with a certain task becomes a more straightforward part of your teamwork.
Share understanding. Implementing a sales process means working with data. You will be able to illustrate customer behavior to your reps and coach them more effectively.
Create roadmaps. When your teams can see the entire pathway of your sales development, they understand their part in the big picture. Therefore, you get less confusion and more focused, motivated action.
When it comes to teaching your teams to work in sync with the sales process, think of it as helping them adopt new behavior patterns and rules. Remember that a successful sales process is a combination of quality data and positive human behavior. That behavior involves everyone.
Customize your approach. Before you start implementing a sales process, you should know the strengths and weaknesses of your team members. Their diversity of skills is your superpower, so make sure that each skill is given a purpose.
Encourage your teams. Discipline is a major part of proper business communication and it’s important to highlight this. Emphasize how professional behavior and punctuality have contributed to your sales success and motivate your teams to keep up. Present a new sales process as the means of making every moment at work more valuable and life that bit easier! It is true, after all.
Bring clarity. When people see good results from their work, they are inspired to invest more effort, to aim for even better results and push for growth and development. Building a sales process makes your team’s contribution visible and so the entire experience is more rewarding for everyone.
Provide your team with benchmarks that show their professional progress during each sales cycle. Let them evaluate themselves professionally, identify areas for improvement, recognize the positive impact they make, and the KPIs they can tackle.
Build an individual plan for your team members, highlighting their achievements and pinpointing the ways their abilities can be developed through coaching.
Develop a consistent process of behavior and performance research to create stability. Random bursts, sprints, and improvement marathons would only confuse your teams. Underdeveloped coaching programs that don’t take your team members’ individuality into account will only result in frustration and mistakes.
Normalize routine. If your teams have to manually execute such mundane tasks as data profile updates, changing lead status, etc., their levels of frustration rise. Automating the process through CRM allows them to skip the boring bits and go straight to customer nurturing and receiving a payoff, which, in turn, boosts sales activity for you.
CRM automation is a key part of your sales process
Automation is the best tool for speeding up your internal processes and providing a clear view of your metrics, tasks, and other data. This is why it is imperative to have CRM that fits your team size, team needs, and your company’s specifics.
What can be automated through CRM?
- Automated data gathering.
- Automated lead data sorting.
- Automated lead status update, through sales pipeline stages.
- Automated prospect metrics.
- Automated call scheduling.
- Automated campaigns for prospects as they progress through the sales cycle.
How does it help your sales efforts?
- It focuses on sales momentum. You know the stage you’re at and what to do.
- It outlines your leads’ behavior. You understand what your leads are doing or about to do. The more you observe, the more information you gain and that enriches your personalization.
- It prevents data loss. It’s very easy to miss high-value data among the piles of metrics. By getting all your data profiles organized in comprehensive segments, you optimize your efficiency and waste less time on trivial tasks.
Automating the sales process is a key
Build a strategy
You should have your strategy outlined and structured in stages. Once you’re ready, you should create a pipeline that mirrors the stages in your CRM. In our case, we work with mailboxes a lot, so we use Streak to build pipelines directly within our mailboxes giving faster access to important sales metrics. After building a pipeline, you define your goals. You should outline a set of completion criteria for each stage by asking yourself the following questions:
What is happening at this stage?
What am I doing at this stage?
What do I intend to receive?
Did I receive that?
As you define these criteria, you enter them and let your CRM mark stages with the corresponding status.
Define your goals for each stage
Think about what you need to achieve in order to satisfy the criteria for completing each stage, then add these actions as tasks.
How would that help?
- It will steer your team. When your reps see tasks “follow up” or “make a call” appear in their CRM, it helps them to stick to the plan and progress methodically through the sales cycle.
- It will improve time management. Tying due dates to time-sensitive tasks will ensure that they’re completed on time and don’t become lost in volumes of data.
- It will refine your workflow. The more guidelines you create, the easier it is for you to communicate with your teams and help new employees learn the ropes. Nowadays lots of sales professionals are experts at working with CRMs, so the more detailed your automation is, the faster your new team members will get up-to-speed.
Select your team
As the CEO of a B2B company, you have a powerful resource – your team. However, that resource can quickly become undermined by chaotic task assignments, no clear hierarchy, and a lack of good coffee! When you have a task at hand but don’t know which one of your reps to assign, you can waste precious moments figuring it out.
Also, if you assign your task to whichever rep happens to be available, you may be putting the extra workload on an employee who would have achieved stellar results completing other tasks. If it goes badly, deadlines are missed, the team is exhausted and you’re stressed. Therefore, organize your human resources wisely and implement methods that avoid the “we get there when we get there” approach.
Assign reps based on their industry knowledge. At Belkins we pay close attention to our departments and their workload. Selecting the right rep for the job requires knowledge of every team member’s skills and market experience. For instance, if we’re working with customers in IT we assign them sales reps with extensive experience of selling to IT companies.
Know your reps, know your clients. If our customer comes from France or Germany, we assign them to reps who know the language. Customers are happier cooperating with reps with whom they can speak freely in their native tongue.
Differentiate between experts and experts-in-training. Never assign your teams to a task they’re not ready for. We base our user-assignment system on skills and experience levels, ensuring that high-value leads go to the most experienced team members while our newest team members complete their training and go through exercises.
Automate your mailbox
Since email marketing is our bread and butter, we simply had to mention it. You mustn’t let your incoming emails disappear in your inbox and leave your metrics unattended, especially if you work in B2B. Why?
It hurts your communication. Cold emails are the primary means of communication between businesses. From Fortune 500 companies to startups, most greetings and value propositions are exchanged via brief, time-effective emails. So, you must be confident about the quality of your communication.
It damages your sales. Imagine receiving an email from a high-value prospect but failing to respond to it in time because it was buried under other incoming messages and, consequently, losing a deal. The stuff of nightmares! Alas, it happens.
It makes your brand look bad. Good timing can do wonders for your close rate. Bad timing creates chaos that will be a pain to clear up. If your potential vendor keeps missing your emails, doesn’t respond to them for weeks or straight-up admits they don’t keep their mailbox under control, it will be a huge red flag for you.
To avoid all these problems, you should keep your email data close at hand and use automation in your email sending routine.
How can you automate your mailbox?
Use Canned Responses. Canned responses allow you to quickly cover frequently asked questions in your email correspondence. By using standardized text for FAQs you can avoid repeatedly typing the same response and process your emails more speedily.
Snooze your emails. If you work with audiences across the globe, you don’t have to pull all-nighters at your U.S. office or twist your schedule to send emails to your clients in Eastern Europe. Just set-up your emails for delivery at the right time and go on with your day.
Segment your prospects. Aside from creating a pipeline in your mailbox, we strongly recommend that you use MailChimp for monitoring your email data. Identifying prospects by funnel stage allow you to select the right template and value proposition. It also lets you keep an eye on your deliverability and open rate.
How to evaluate your sales process
If you automate your sales process correctly, you receive an abundance of fresh data. Let’s see how you should measure it. You need a clear idea of the progress being made, whether adjustments are necessary and if things are not going your way when to call a halt. As complicated as it sounds, keeping track of your sales process becomes routine when you know which metrics to take into account.
- Measure team participation levels.
- Demonstrate how well processes are utilized and executed.
- Emphasize what’s important – the more your team is engaged, the better the data you receive.
Key Funnel Conversion Rates
- Measure conversion rates from stage to stage.
- Demonstrate the time it takes for prospects to convert to the next stage.
- Emphasize what’s important – it’s crucial to be able to determine the weakest and the strongest parts of your pipeline.
- Measure leads converted to customers.
- Demonstrate your sales performance.
- Emphasize what’s important – get a clear overview and spot the first signs of sales-performance issues.
Average Deal Size
- Measure the value of every closed sale.
- Demonstrate the extent to which your supply meets demand.
- Emphasize what’s important – pinpoint your most successful products, services, and strategies.
Sales Forecast Accuracy
- Measure pipeline value and win rate.
- Demonstrate how well end-results match your estimated results.
- Emphasize what’s important – knowing what you expect from your sales cycle allows you to monitor progress and make adjustments.
Sales Cycle Length
- Measure the time it takes to complete a cycle.
- Demonstrate your sales process is refined.
- Emphasize what’s important – changes in the length of your sales cycle can indicate whether a sales process has been successfully implemented.
Adoption Rate allows you to estimate the full impact of your sales process before you get to take a look at your sales cycle length, so this is a priority metric at the beginning of your sales process implementation.
To get the most accurate Key Funnel Conversion Rates data, select just one or two indicators. For instance, see how many leads convert from “No response” to “In talks” after receiving your follow-ups. By performing such segmented research, you find the strongest links in your campaign.
If your Win Rate is low, don’t be in a hurry to condemn your entire sales process. This metric is achieved by every part of your sales process, which means that you must comb through, from the first to the final stage, to locate the problem. It can be a lack of qualified lead data, no data enrichment, inadequate communication, marketing content, etc. Low Win Rate is just the symptom of one or several processes underperforming.
When it comes to assessing your Deal Size, go through each part individually, from your sales reps to customers’ locations and services. This metric usually highlights the most successful salespeople and products at your company, so you could implement the winning technique and approach for other services.
Only look at your Sales Forecast Accuracy when you’ve implemented your sales approach for long enough to have built-up a win rate. Then you can get relevant data from this metric.
If your Sales Cycle Length is far from ideal, you must attend to your prospect qualification techniques. Are you targeting the decision-makers? Do you gather enough useful data? How well does your team understand the criteria for completing each stage?
As you can see, a sales process sets things in motion by uniting three important components:
People. You rely on your professionals and experts to get results. They move your business forward. So make sure that your sales process is about them, first and foremost. It’s not just about you, although you’re part of your team as much as they’re part of your company. Your people deserve clear guidance, high-quality organization, and zero confusion at each stage of the sales cycle. It’s important for everyone to understand your company’s goals and purpose. The more clarity you bring to their workflow, the more you add to their payoff and the better results you will get in the end.
Automation. Automation is your main tool for gleaning relevant sales data and making your team’s work easier. Finding a CRM that will cover your business needs and have all the assets for your end goals will let you structure and organize your entire sales process from Stage 1 to Stage 7 as well as take some of the workloads off your team’s shoulders.
Data. The lifeblood of your sales process, your sales data will be your main indicator of how well you have implemented your sales process and when you should intervene with adjustments. Be sure to keep track of relevant metrics, from Adoption Rate to Sales Cycle Length, so you can come up with a plan B when necessary.
When you get these things covered, the rest depends on the state of your industry and the specifics of your niche. As long as you keep your foundation solid, you will be able to adjust your business to meet any challenge.
If you have any questions regarding implementing a sales process for a particular industry, schedule it with our Belkins calendar.
After working with over 30 industry verticals, we’ll be happy to share our experience in sales development with you.