Creating a sales process for your organization isn’t a one and done occurrence. It’s necessary to revisit it on a routine basis to make adjustments and keep it up to date. Doing so allows you to continually improve your existing sales process.
Periodically reviewing your sales process for improvements is necessary because your company, sales team and product or service evolve over time. Not only do you experience internal changes, but there are ongoing customer and industry changes. These may include new market conditions as well as different decision-making approaches used by buyers. And it’s always important that your sales process mirror your ideal customer’s buying process. To keep up with these changes, it’s a good idea to revisit your sales process every six to twelve months. Regardless of the frequency that you select, be sure to complete this process consistently and at least once a year. Otherwise, you risk falling behind your competition by being out of date.
When you’re ready to review your sales process for improvements, here are five ways to help you make the necessary adjustments for better results.
1 - Document and map out your current sales process
If you haven’t documented your sales process, how will you ever scale it as your business grows? This documentation needs to describe how to complete each activity at every stage of your sales process. It should include a description of what happened before and after each activity as well. Include all questions that should be asked when selling new accounts as well as criteria that must be met to advance a deal from one stage to the next.
Taking this documentation a step further is mapping your sales process. This involves considering a variety of entry points for prospects along with a description of detailed triggers, content to be used and conversations to advance prospect through the process. Potential obstacles and objections that could delay or derail it should also be included when mapping out your sales process.
As you work through mapping your process, be sure to create or update your sales playbook for easy reference by your team members. This document should include relevant conversations, scripts and messaging along with responses to common objections.
2 - Nurture leads that aren’t ready
Not all leads will be ready to advance through the sales process at the time of initial contact. When this happens, staying in touch with the lead until they are ready makes your solution the most likely one to be selected when the time comes. A great way to stay in touch is by having reps routinely send valuable content and industry updates to keep your company name in front of prospects. Also, with the lead’s permission, reps may also add the lead to your company’s email marketing list to send them an email newsletter or other routine communication.
3 - Ideal buyer & company profile
It’s impossible to be all things to all people. That’s why it’s important to identify who your ideal buyer is and what type of company they work for (if applicable). It’s fine to have more than one ideal buyer, but you still need to know how to recognize them. Define your ideal prospect by documenting all demographics that apply and include company information if you sell to other businesses. This makes it easier for your sales reps to identify the best leads, prioritizing them as to which ones are the hottest and most likely to result in a sale. When they have this information they become more efficient by prioritizing their time on hotter leads first and closing more sales.
4 - Identify your KPIs
Take the time to determine which metrics you’ll use to measure success. The metrics commonly requested and reviewed by management and sales directors typically relate to revenue, profit and likelihood. Some metrics to consider tracking include:
Number of marketing-qualified leads versus sales-qualified leads by month or quarter.
Measurement of how long each prospect spends at each stage and the prospect result (for example – won, lost, qualified out and nurturing).
Sales capacity – a measure that determines if you have a sufficient number of leads versus the number of opportunities moving through the process to be sure there’s enough to keep your sales team busy.
Salesperson efficiency which may be measured a variety of ways such as close rate (the number of leads a salesperson received divided by the number they closed during a specified period of time) and activity specific metrics such as number of calls made, sales conversations scheduled or sales conversations completed.
Sales process related timing – this shows how long, on average, it takes leads to advance to each stage of the sales process as well as the average time that elapses from lead through to close.
Measurements aid in planning and performance improvement.
5 - Sales team performance
Speaking of measurements, sales team performance is important to measure. I’m not talking about calling someone out for underperforming. These types of measurements aid in evaluation for coaching and training activities as well. They help identify coaching requirement and coaching moments. These KPIs also simplify the planning of trainings for your sales team. Some tools like CRM software of sales pipeline management apps can help you track and report on your team’s performance.
Start using these five activities for ongoing sales process improvement. When you do, you’ll maintain a competitive advantage in the marketplace and see the sales results as well.