How do your prospects buy your product or service?
Does a single decision maker buy on the spot, or does s/he go through many steps and approvals first?
Or perhaps there are multiple departments involved over a very long period of time?
A sales process is a defined series of steps you follow as you guide prospects from initial contact to purchase. It’s essentially a flowchart that explains
- Each distinct step a prospect takes in the journey
- Knowledge the prospect needs to move from each step to the next
- Information & tools you can provide to help the prospect move forward
- The length of time a prospect needs at each step
- Conversion rates: the percentage of prospects who move from each step to the next
(Here’s Wikipedia’s general definition of sales process.)
When you documenting your sales process, you have a powerful tool that enables you to
- Estimate the revenue and return on investment (ROI) of your marketing campaigns
- Sell more efficiently
- Generate more accurate sales & revenue reports
- See which stages take the most time and find ways to move prospects forward more quickly
- Create better literature and tools
- Improve your campaigns
- Minimize the amount of time your sales reps spend on estimates and forecasts
Benefits from Documenting Your Sales Process
What does this mean, exactly? Here are three hypothetical scenarios. Do you see your company in one of them?
- You have a well-designed process that truly understands how your prospects buy your product.
- You deliver the right amount of information prospects need at each step, which helps them make decisions more quickly and move to the next stage.
- You have accurate reports covering the number of prospects you have at each stage, how long they stay in each stage, and the revenue your entire pipeline represents.
- You’re able to identify prospects who are “stuck” at a particular stage, then find potential solutions. For example, certain sales reps may need coaching at that step, or you may need better tools & information to help overcome objections.
- You can create more successful marketing campaigns because you can predict how many leads will become customers and what those leads are worth financially to your company.
- You may or may not have a defined sales process. You generally follow the same steps to close a customer, but there’s a big variance in the amount of time it takes to close. In fact, even your strongest reps have trouble closing certain types of prospects.
- You have a basic idea of how many customers a particular marketing campaign will generate and what you can spend to acquire them. However, you wish those projections were more consistent.
- Your forecasts are probably all manual and generally accurate, but you wish you had a thorough snapshot to show exactly how many accounts are at a certain stage and what you need to do to close.
- You don’t have a process or use one that doesn’t match how prospects want to buy.
- You deliver all of the information about your product but then seem to lose control of the prospect. Some prospects end up buying, but you don’t know why the others don’t.
- You’re never quite sure what a lead is truly worth financially, so it’s difficult to create marketing campaigns that produce the right number of leads at a measurable, acceptable ROI.
- Your sales team often spends valuable time creating manual reports instead of selling, which further hurts your revenue.
- It’s a constant battle to figure out how many real prospects you have and what they’re worth.
Does it sound like a documented sales process is valuable? It definitely is. It helps you improve your entire sales & marketing process and grow your revenue as a result.
Better yet, it’s not difficult to define. In fact, we’ll post the key steps to help you document your sales process tomorrow.