4 Ways to Create a Sales Process That Everybody Understands
Forget the laminated printouts. Use these simple steps to help you build a repeatable process that your sales team (and everyone else in your company) will understand and love to use.
Why It’s Important to Improve Sales Team Understanding
Imagine not knowing the steps you take on a daily basis as part of your job: Your productivity and confidence would drop significantly, and you would find it difficult to get anything done consistently.
However, that exact scenario is what sales representatives face when they do not know which steps to take at each point in the sales cycle. Instead of relying on a proven sales process with high conversion rates, they run into uncertainty everywhere they turn. A straightforward and easy-to-understand sales process gives your staff the information they need to close more deals and speeds up new hire onboarding.
Follow the Path Most Often Traveled
Your sales process may not have a single unified journey, but it does have common threads that come together throughout the cycle. After all, you are creating a framework that your sales reps can work within for each stage. The team may need to take a detour or a shortcut when working with unusual or complicated scenarios, but they can reference the usual path to help them frame their activities.
The question is, how do you figure out which path is the most often traveled? Get feedback from your sales team, investigate the steps taken on successful deals, look at the best sales forecasting software for Salesforce, and reference your overall sales funnel to start putting this model together.
Pick Stages You Could Explain to a Customer
Some companies create an overly complicated sales model that leaves everyone confused about what they actually mean. Imagine your customers sitting in front of you while you explain each stage. Are they going to nod in understanding or look at you like you are speaking a foreign language?
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For a good example of stages that would make sense to a customer, take a page from your marketing team. The overarching themes in a typical campaign are awareness, consideration and decision-making. Your customer does not need to know anything about marketing to have a general understanding of what occurs with each part of the process. Try to model your sales process stages along similar lines.
Make Each Stage Simple to Understand
Don’t label stages with words that are buzzword-laden or have overly technical language. Your current sales team may have the experience to understand certain terminology and the familiarity with your company to know the unique definition. When someone new comes in, however, he or she may not understand the context.
The stages should be simple enough for a new sales hire to come in and get up to speed quickly with your ideal cycle. Are you spending a long time going over each part of the training process?
Here are a few ways to improve the way you explain each stage:
- Use clear language to provide any necessary definitions for advanced terminology that must remain in the stages. The ideal situation is to not use any specialized phrasing, but if you must, remember to provide enough information for the sales representative to grasp immediately what you need.
- Break down each part of the stage into actionable steps or a short checklist. You cannot cover every possibility that occurs, but you can create a guiding light to get sales reps back on track if they go too far afield from the ideal journey.
- Have a variety of employees review these stages, both in the sales department and outside of it. The people familiar with the sales cycle can give you expert feedback on whether you missed any critical information. The non-sales employees give you an idea on whether you have made it too complicated. When it doubt, break down a step into smaller components.
Have Meaningful Differences in Stages
Avoid creating steps simply to have a set number in your cycle: Each part of the process should be distinct and significant. Look at the outcomes expected as you move between stages and the actions the prospects take, and merge any segment that is functionally similar or identical to another. Some stages may become redundant once you start making changes to other parts in the sales process.
Revisit Your Sales Process Regularly
Putting together a sales process is not a one-and-done task. Every won or lost deal gives your sales analytics tools more information to work with. You can also test whether your sales process is accurately reflecting the best steps to turn a lead into a customer. Keep an eye out for ways to streamline your pipeline and shorten the sales cycle.
Your company and customers have changing needs over time, so the best practices that your sales representatives follow today could be far different a few months from now.
Are you ready to document your sales process to achieve consistent results and improve the team’s productivity? Take a close look at what you are currently doing, and determine whether it is a straightforward and understandable system.