What typical sales process steps there are
Typical sales process steps are such:
- Gaining a prospect (cold client)
- Qualify a lead, turning it into a prospect
- Do the prospect research
- Handle objections
- Close the deal, turning a lead into a client
- Handle the client’s lifecycle.
Depending on your company’s specifics, particular steps can differ, as well as you might have more or not have some of the mentioned steps (besides step 5, which is always present, as it makes no sense to perform this process without its most important step).
Map & improve your sales process
You might think of selling processes improvement in the following cases:
- You aren’t satisfied with their efficiency, existing gaps & want to improve. The same, your customers may be dissatisfied & you want to know why & deal with your findings
- Your company grows & needs formalized procedures & processes
- You enter new markets & hire more on-house/off-house sales specialists, which shall be taught during the onboarding according to the formalized procedures
- You’d like to investigate what your current processes are to map them & – probably – think of the improvement or to define the existing best practices.
There are typical steps, you should do to map & improve the process:
- Investigate the process as is. Define every step & its existing variations if they exist from seller to seller, including experimenting & thrashing.
- Outline the client’s full journey from the first contact to the point when they stop being a client.
- Define bottlenecks in the process steps, transitions & pitfalls where clients fall off. Define how you could close those to smooth the process (including drivers that move clients among stages).
- Measure the results of each step & compare them to existing or desirable metrics.
- Define all possible improvements to the process & formalize them on paper, creating a sales chart & methodology.
- Implement those improvements in life. To do that, bring all stakeholders aboard & make sure they are all interested in changes. If not (and especially, if sabotage), then there is something wrong – like personal (or financial) interest in keeping processes ineffective (which shouldn’t be).
The work above can be done by change managers of the company or other qualified personnel. If there aren’t any, then it is advisable to hire a qualified process manager, which will head the project of mapping, investigation & change implementation.
Be prepared that when you start investigating the sales process, you might find potential for improvements in other processes of your company, which may trigger a bigger work than you’ve expected. But that’s actually a good thing as it provides you the potential to improve other aspects of your company’s work.
Common selling process mistakes
There are common mistakes, which can be found nearly in any sales process:
- Leaving some process steps of your 5-step sales process (or how many of these do you have) open, not transiting a client from a previous step to another.
- Applying the same methodology & sales approaches to all clients & situations, no matter what their pains are, how they prefer to be dealt with & what people they are by nature.
- Forgetting to adapt your sales techniques to the flow of time.
- Non-alignment of your sales with other your efforts, including marketing, production & others.
- Focusing only on deals closure by any means, forgetting to establish a personal connection with a client or not thinking about its future lifecycle.
- Offering clients too flamboyant offers or discounts, which undermine the company’s revenue & processes.
- Forgetting the KPIs or not measuring them.