Next Sales Actions: Ultimate Guide To Optimizing Your Sales Process
Updated: Sep 14, 2022
A presentation intended to benefit your audience will probably require an outline unless you're an expert at improv. You need structure or process for your B2B sales as well. A successful sales workflow increases conversions, closes more deals, and ensures customers receive consistent and positive experiences regardless of who they speak to. Yet many sales managers struggle to build scalable processes that generate repeat business consistently.
This guide was created to help you find the best next sales actions and tactics for creating a sales workflow that suits your business.
What is a Sales Process?
A salesperson must follow a set of predictable and repeatable steps to close a sale. Sales processes typically include 5-7 steps:
Essentially, it is the journey from realizing a need for a product to making the actual purchase. Because a sales process is a journey for the prospect, a salesperson needs a roadmap to follow.
Despite most sales teams being aware that they go through a similar process, they rarely outline and standardize it. Instead, they leave it entirely up to individual sales representatives to decide what steps to take and when. So long as salespeople close sales and bring revenue, their method is up to them. However, unless you are a natural-born salesperson, you can greatly benefit from sales process optimization, as well as measuring, forecasting, and general sales activity management.
So What Exactly Are Sales Activities?
A sales activity is anything a sales rep or manager does to move a prospect or customer through the sales process. As a result, deals are closed, and sales goals are met (and exceeded).
Sales reps are involved in a wide range of daily sales activities. Here are some examples:
Prospects can be approached, met, and sold their product or service with these key sales activities. Other preparatory and consequential activities are also set in motion to bring sales agents closer to securing a deal.
If you are tracking sales activity, you can further subdivide these broad categories to gain more insight into your business. This can be made easy with a sales management tool or software.
Based on the number of visits/meetings with prospects, product demos, and follow-up meetings with existing customers, you can determine the number of new sales meetings with prospects. Sales reps also do some things daily that are considered sales activities but can only be measured by their results. Prospecting is an example of this. Adding new leads into the sales funnel indicates how well a sales rep is prospecting. So, the leads aren't the sales activity, but the prospecting is.
How to Implement Sales Process Optimization
Sales process optimization can be accomplished through implementing these best practices across your team and customers.
1. Analyze your current sales process
Assess what is and isn't working for your sales reps to tailor your new process better to fit their needs. This will help you close more deals and delight more customers. The best way to assess the success of your current sales process is to observe reps working through it. Analyze the recent deals that you closed.
Was there a pattern to these deals? How did you interact with the customer? Calculate roughly how long each step took and how much time elapsed between them.
As soon as you have outlined that timeline, you can work backward to determine the timelines for each transaction. Think of it like this: if six of the ten deals closed in approximately six weeks, what steps did it take to get there?
2. Outline the buyer's journey for your target persona
Explain the buyer's journey from start to finish for your target audience. You will be able to see your sales process through the eyes of the customer. Doing so will better understand their interactions with your reps, their concerns, and the reasons they need your product or service.
Your sales team will have everything they need to build strong relationships with prospects and close more transactions when you outline the buyer's journey for your target persona.
3. Define the prospect action that moves them to the next stage
Understand what leads prospects from one sales stage to the next. Sales reps should not make assumptions about what motivates prospects but should instead analyze their prospect's actions. Ask the following questions to determine what actions move prospects to the next stage:
"Did a rep highlight a specific problem that prompted a prospect to schedule a discovery call?"
"Were there objections during the demo that slowed things down or features that made it go more smoothly?"
"Did the customer reply 'yes' immediately to a rep's pitch? Think carefully about why that occurred. What were the building blocks of the pitch?"
4. Define exit criteria for each step of the sales process
Your team should define exit criteria for each step of the selling process. Therefore, you should determine the steps your prospects must complete to progress from one step to the next.
Take the "presentation" step, for example. Consequently, your reps might decide they need a specific type of content to share with your prospects to move them to "closing."
To ensure all your sales reps have the same information, consider the following questions when determining exit criteria for each step in the sales process. This will ensure your prospects receive positive, professional, and brand-relevant information.
Before contacting a prospect, how much information should reps know about your brand, what you're selling, and how your sales process works?
How should reps handle each step of this process?
What should your sales reps say at each stage?
Ensure your reps are aware of all the possible ways a conversation can go and how to handle each one.
When should your sales reps show your prospects certain types of content? A great deal of emphasis should be placed on "presenting" your prospect with videos, blogs, testimonials, or case studies so that your reps can keep that prospect moving to close.
5. Measure your sales process results
Your sales process will evolve when your team learns how to work more efficiently and move prospects through your pipeline faster. To ensure the successful coordination of your team's efforts and reach of your target audience, you need to measure your success as you define and enhance your sales workflow. Count how many prospects entered and exited each stage of the sales process over time.
For each step of your process, here are some metrics to consider:
Time spent by prospects at each step.
If there is a step that prospects take too long to reach.
A prospect's chance of closing after a demo.
How many prospects request a demo after a discovery call.
The churn rate (for example, if certain customers are churning rapidly, can this information be used to identify mismatched prospects early on?)
Most teams find value in measuring these metrics. Consider metrics specific to your business that will help you determine whether a particular step needs to be improved.
12 Ways to Create an Effective Sales Process
A cool way to work is to use your talents and resourcefulness. Nevertheless, selling isn't an exercise in intuition and creativity. It involves a series of tactical steps. You can create a standardized sales process for your team or daily sales activities using this guide.
1. Interview Your Sales Team
In a sales process, key milestones of the sale are covered through a series of stages. As a prospect moves from one stage to another, a salesperson will follow different tasks to advance them.
To turn prospects into customers, you must fully understand what your sales team is doing right now. What are your salespeople doing to connect with potential customers? How do they close a sale? To create a cohesive plan that can be replicated and systemized for other salespeople, interview your sales team to learn their language, strategies, and techniques.
2. Reduce Waste
Your sales process will be more accurate if you have a defined process of specific chain-effect steps. Once you identify what causes a prospect to move from one stage to the next, it is much easier to identify the right actions and eliminate bottlenecks and ineffective activities.
3. Don't Deviate
Generally, a sales rep's roadmap is called a sales process. Salespeople should not be told to take this step, then that step, when following a roadmap. An effective sales process with clear milestones and steps will act as a GPS. Understanding all the steps in the process will help you understand where you stand, when it's time to move on to the next step, and when to modify your plan.
4. Put Your Sales Skills to Good Use at Every Step
Having a process does not cancel your creativity! Using your gut instincts and creative talents will help you move along the sales process since the sales process won't dictate how to sell on social media, what to say in a sales pitch, or how to draft a proposal - all of that is up to your sales talent and skills!
5. Put Yourself in Your Customers' Shoes
Typically, companies build sales processes that reflect how they want to sell, not how their customers want to buy. Effective sales processes should be adaptable to different customer needs and selling situations. The following open-ended questions should be asked when designing a sales process with your customer in mind:
What are my primary customer groups?
What are their purchasing patterns?
What are the differences between selling to new and repeat customers?
How can I meet my customers' expectations during each stage of the sales process?
6. Take a Personal Approach
Businesses want to build strong relationships with their customers. People want to establish a relationship with the organizations they deal with. If you are going to earn a potential client's attention, take a relationship-led approach and clearly articulate what this will mean for your salespeople. Building and deepening customer relationships require active listening, empathy, note-taking, trust-building, and following up.
7. Find Out What is Stalling Sales
By adopting a sales process, sales professionals can identify the root cause of stalled sales. After following a sequence of steps, you can determine whether your actions were sufficient, how many of them were actually required, and what was a mistake or a waste of time. Therefore, if you work with sales processes, you can tell not just what was achieved and what wasn't, but also how it was achieved.
8. Get more qualified leads
Clear sales processes will help your sales team tackle their biggest pain point - weeding out low-potential leads and identifying the prospects with the greatest likelihood of purchasing. A B2B sales cycle takes about four to twelve months to close, so identifying qualified leads earlier in the process will make the sales cycle shorter and more targeted. It will also help your sales team maximize their efforts.
9. Improve Forecasting and Revenue
Having a clear understanding of where your salespeople are in the sales process allows sales managers to make more accurate sales forecasting decisions. A repeatable sales process can provide a consistent picture of how many deals your team closes based on the number of leads. By predicting your win rates, you can set your quotas more accurately.
10. Follow Up Regularly
Getting a timely follow-up email is essential to winning a sale. Sales representatives may forget to follow up with potential customers during a long sales interaction. That alone could cost a sale. Follow-ups keep potential customers interested. However, following up can be difficult. Sales teams find it the third most challenging aspect of their jobs.
11. Make Life Easier for Customers
In many cases, sales representatives push customers too quickly into the next sale stage before they are ready for it. Such behaviour can damage relationships and lead to lost sales. With an appropriately designed sales process, putting the customer first, a pushy and haphazard sale can become a smooth sailing customer experience. A sales process considers your customer's buying behaviours and expectations to create a stronger bond with them at the right time, sell value and enhance trust.
12. Onboard Sales Rookies With Ease
Observing your new salespeople sell rather than providing them with proper training is a sign that you need a sales process! Your sales team can easily train and coach with a defined sales process. As well as providing concrete sales steps, it will point out the behaviours and skills necessary to succeed at every sale stage, what outcomes can be expected, and how to best utilize individual strengths at each sale stage.
A Standardized Sales Process: Pros Summed Up
When you have a standardized and structured sales process, you will know what works and what does not work and do the right things the right way. With this knowledge, you can avoid repeating the same sales mistakes. Well-tuned sales processes offer many long-term advantages.
Your sales team can:
Create and maintain long-lasting customer relationships.
Ensure higher customer lifetime value.
Reduce customer retention costs.
Get more referrals.
Increase sales revenue.
A standardized sales process allows a sales manager to concentrate on what matters the most: planning, distributing leads, prioritizing tasks, managing your team's time and workload better, and making more accurate sales forecasts. You need a CRM to make sure your team sticks to the process.
Using a CRM system will automate every sales stage and prompt you to take action when to follow up, when to send information, and when to start preparing your sales pitch. A CRM enables you to program all sales stages efficiently, document all communication, and move prospects from one stage to another.
A good sales process is never set in stone! Revisions and adaptations are necessary frequently to reflect the market's current state, your customers' changing needs, your team's skills, and your company's specific requirements. This process should always be ongoing.
Does your CRM system assist you in moving through the sales stages? What other benefits do defined sales processes provide? Share your thoughts below. Use our free sales management software to elevate your sales process.