Sales process. It doesn’t have to make you cringe!
The reality, in fact, is that every successful sales rep follows a process. And every company that wants to grow and scale needs to give reps a consistent process to follow. Without a process, incremental growth eventually becomes exponentially costly.
There are a lot of things to consider when launching a sales process.
If you’re defining a sales process for the first time – or you’re suffering with an over-engineered sales process – then the most important piece of advice is this: start simple. Not sure if your sales process is simple enough? If you have to ask, then it’s not. Make it simpler.
Here is a 3 step process you can use to rapidly design an initial sales process. It’s not a long-term solution, but it is the perfect place to start.
Step 1: Sales Stages – Beginning, Middle, End
Every sales process has one thing in common: providing a quote. It might go by different names, such as proposal or estimate, but every sales process has it. If you have a sales process that doesn’t require giving the prospect a price at some point then you’re really just placing an order.
Another common area for almost all sales processes: the quote tends to happen in the middle of the process.
Prior to providing a quote is a qualification stage. After providing the quote, there is generally a period of closing or negotiation.
With that simple framework, you now have your first 3 stage sales process.
Step 2: Name Your Stages
Name your stages something that is relevant and meaningful in your organization. The table below has some different ideas you can use.
One problem that more complex sales processes suffer from is ambiguity – it can be difficult for a rep to know what stage their opportunity is in. With these 3 simple stages, the appropriate stage is clear.
- If you’re not writing-up a quote yet, then you’re in the first stage.
- As soon as you commit to creating a quote, you’re in the second stage.
- As soon as the quote as been submitted to the customer, you’re in the 3rd stage.
Simple. Simple is good.
Step 3: Decide on Steps
You’ve defined your stages. But what happens during those stages? What steps do you take? What information do you need to collect? Decide on the steps reps should typically take, and document those under the phase they belong to.
A consistent process alone won’t have a significant impact on results. The process enables you to monitor, coach your team, and collaborate on identifying improvements. Put the process into a tool (CRM or, if you don’t have one, start with Excel), track it, report on it, talk about it with your team, and improve it.
Later, get more sophisticated. Add stages, stage gates, branches, and complementary processes for different teams. Go beyond CRM reporting and use real time-series reporting so you can make better decisions and more improvements.