WHAT IS A SALES PROCESS
A sales process is a repeatable sequence of actions that converts prospects into customers. A strong sales process provides a framework of steps for sales reps to follow and close deals.
In order to maximize your company’s revenue opportunities, your sales process must be effective. A stellar sales process gives you a scalable, proven roadmap for converting leads to customers. Instead of expecting sales reps to wing it in the field, ensure your success by creating an unshakable foundation for sales processes.
Sales process will define sales results and customer satisfaction. It will either be an engine of growth that fuels success or an anchor of doom that will drag down even the best marketing campaigns and ad buys. When each step in the sales process is handled correctly, the deal is the conclusion.
Every company has a sales process that runs day in and day out, it’s merely a question of whether or not it’s a good one.
The 5 step model for refining sales process
1. Document current process
Very few companies do this kind of auditing. With a clearer picture of the status quo, can be used as a benchmark against which to make improvements and measure their impact. If busines leadres have no answers to most of these questions, that’s ok, but they have to realize that in the inability to answer is a commentary on how well well current process is being managed. Business leadres have to understand what the baseline is before thely can have any hope of improving it.
2. Define new process
Start by laying out the sales stages. Sales stages are basically the milestones that leads go through in sales process. The exact stages and stage names will vary from company to company but the basic idea is the same. Leads are either in an open stage, meaning they’re still being worked, or in a closed stage, meaning they’ve reached some kind of definitive conclusion such as won or lost.
Once these sales stages has been defined, they become the buckets that all sales activities fall into. Tracking the stage of each lead is critical for reporting on:
How well leads are moving through your sales process
Viewing your current sales pipeline
Forecasting future sales
Each stage has it’s own set of actions to be completed to move to the next stage.
No matter which lead, when it was last touched, or who was handling it; anyone in the company should be able to immediately look at the stage and know exactly what has happened and what needs to be done next. By creating a specific list of steps for each stage, the salesprocess winds up with a clear work flow that anyone in the company can use to manage and follow up with leads. Good work-flows are the battle plan for sales, they equip every team member with a proven plan. It all comes together when we combine the activities in each stage along with stage-specific templates and documents to generate complete pre-baked sales experience than any agent can administer. Keep in mind there’s a ton of leeway in how this can be implemented. What’s important is that the steps are specific and easily understood by the people using it. Build a blue print any agent can use by tying together a work flow of sales activities in each stage of the process with supporting aides such as call scripts, email templates and attachment.
3. Focus on incrementally improving each step in the process
Here are some potential starting points:
Contacting new leads – Focus on driving down initial lead response times. Start by implementing tracking and then move to add automation.
Getting more meetings scheduled – Create one significant piece of sales collateral and then embed it in your sales process so every prospect sees it. This could be a one page brochure, a few video testimonials or an eBook on what to look for in a property manager.
Getting meetings completed – Start sending out automated meeting reminders via AppointmentReminder.org.
Making the close – Test a new promotional offer and track close rates for the people you offer it to vs. those you don’t.
Loss tracking – Start tracking a specific reason for every lost deal and tally them up over time to identify common patterns you may be able to fix.
Nurturing long term leads – Create a long term follow up schedule and nurturing campaign.
These are just a few examples, each idea is a project in and of itself that would require focus and has the potential to yield significant ROI.
Wherever a company start, the place to finish is always going back and measuring the results. Target a specific segment of sales process and then go back and see if it actually moved the needle once processed a couple months’ leads under the new process.
Go all in on one specific area of sales process and then go back to confirm weather or not it actually made a difference. If it did, rejoice and move on. If it didn’t ask why, make adjustments, and try again.
4. Develop service level agreement to stay on track
SLA stands for Service Level Agreement. It’s basically an internal agreement that specifies how leads will be handled. It’s a common tool used by professional sales teams to define and enforce what is, and is not, acceptable when it comes to handling leads.
The two most common components are a time limit for how quickly new leads should be responded to, and requiring a specific number of follow up attempts before giving up.
For example: Speed to call – New leads must be called within 5 minutes after being received.
Follow up – New leads must be called 5 times within 14 days before being marked lost.
The one big caveat is that there’s no point in having an SLA unless you plan to track and enforce it.
The goal is adding accountability, so here are a few ways to help do that with an SLA.
Talking about SLA – People tend to respect what you inspect as the saying goes. Simply reviewing performance stats with agents will make them much more aware of the benchmark they need to hit. Send out a weekly or monthly email with everyone’s stats and recognize top performers. Display SLA performance in a public place – Whether it be a white board, large note pad or spare computer monitor, all that matters is that people are aware of it and have the chance to see how they are doing and course correct as needed. Displaying it in public also encourages competition.
Reassign leads based on SLA violations – When agents are neglecting leads, those leads should be reassigned to another agent who is more willing and / or able to give that lead the attention it needs. Having clear expectations via your SLA makes this so much easier to do and once agents understand the system they are empowered to either shape up or ship out.
A service level agreement (SLA) is set of standards that agents are held to for things like lead response time and number of follow up attempts. It’s what keeps everyone on track.
5. Focusted on process rather than short term outcomes
The process is more important than the short term outcomes. Outcomes are what happened. They tell you nothing about why it happened. Results are easier to assess and more objective than evaluating process, but managers often make the critical mistake of assuming that good outcomes are the result of a good process and that bad outcomes imply a bad process. In contrast, the best long-term performers all emphasize process over outcome. For example, the fact someone wins the lottery doesn’t indicate that person is savvy about making financial invests or generating wealth.
Your process on the other hand is a specific, repeatable practice that drives outcomes. It’s something you can control and modify, even when in the short term the results aren’t exactly what you had hoped for.Everyone wants a quick fix, but short term results can be a huge distraction for those that lack the patience to see investments in their process all the way through.
We see this all the time when companies are vetting new marketing channels. The fact the last 3 leads didn’t immediately convert doesn’t mean the lead source they came from is bogus. The fact a given mailer campaign generated zero results doesn’t mean mailers as a whole don’t work. Be realistic about how much time a given change needs to take effect and always ask WHY when new initiatives fail.
There are two ways to operate:
Measure success based on latest short term results. Focus on refining the actions that believeed will lead to the long-term results. Either focusing on the process or the outcome. Most people focus on outcomes and quit before they ever see real progress.
Don’t fall into the trap of focusing on short term results when trying to implement long term changes. Stay focused on improving process over the long term and give those changes enough time to take effect.