Imagine you were asked to speak at an event. How would you prepare?
Would you wing it and say whatever comes to mind? Or would you create a clearly defined outline that adds structure to your talk?
Unless you’re a master of improv, you’ll likely create an outline if you want your audience to gain value from your presentation.
Similar to a good speech, your B2B sales efforts also need a bit of structure or process.
Effective sales processes boost conversions, turn more potential customers into closed deals, and ensure all of your reps provide customers with positive and consistent experiences — no matter who they’re talking to.
A sales process refers to a series of repeatable steps a sales team takes to move a prospect from an early-stage lead to a closed customer. A strong sales process helps reps consistently close deals by giving them a framework to follow.
Why build a sales process?
You can think of a sales process as a map that guides your sales team on their journey to turn potential leads into customers. Without the map, your marketing team’s lead generation efforts would quickly go to waste.
Having a standardized sales process could also help less experienced reps quickly get up to speed with best practices and learn what to do at different sales stages.
You make more money when you build a proper sales process. When you provide your sales team with a common framework, they have a more efficient roadmap to closing deals.
Prospecting is the process of sourcing new, early-stage leads to begin working through the sales process. It’s a vital part of the sales process and part of most reps’ daily or weekly workflow.
Prospecting might involve online research on sites like LinkedIn or Quora. It also might take place at conferences or industry events. Additionally, you can prospect by asking current clients or colleagues to refer individuals who might be interested in your product or service.
2. Connect and qualify leads.
The connect step of the sales process involves reps initiating contact with those early-stage leads to gather information. The second part of this step is qualifying new leads — deciding whether or not they’re a good-fit lead for your business and whether or not they’ll likely move forward in the buyer’s journey.
A rep can typically identify qualified leads over a “connect” or “discovery” call (sometimes over email if not via phone) by asking qualifying questions like:
“What is your role within your company?”
“What do you do day-to-day?”
“What problem are you trying to solve?”
“Why is this a priority for your business?”
“What other solutions are you evaluating?”
Next comes the research step, when reps learn more about each prospect and company.
Research helps your reps put themselves in the customer’s shoes to offer a more tailored and personalized experience, thus improving the likelihood of closing a deal.
The crucial part of this stage is understanding each prospect’s challenges and needs and establishing your product or service as the solution.
You might need your rep to speak with other people at the company in different departments to get a holistic view of the business and its objectives. A good salesperson is expected to understand the company better than the individual prospect who works there.
4. Give an effective pitch.
The presentation step is typically when your salesperson runs a formal product or service demonstration for your prospect.
This step is time-consuming, so it typically comes later in the sales process and is reserved for more qualified prospects — which is why the connecting and qualifying step is so critical. You don’t want a sales rep wasting any of their valuable time if it’s avoidable.
Tailor each presentation to meet the specific prospect’s unique use case and pain points. Additionally, a rep might bring an engineer or executive to the meeting with them to demonstrate the level of service the customer will receive when doing business with your company. This also allows them to answer more technical questions the rep might not be best suited to answer.
It’s not uncommon for prospects to have objections to your salesperson’s presentation and proposal. In fact, it’s expected — which is why this is a specific step in the sales process. Your sales team should be prepared to handle any and all objections.
Listening to your prospect’s objections and questions can help your reps better tailor your product to fit their needs. Through their research and presentation preparation, reps should identify and anticipate possible objections, whether about cost, onboarding, or other parts of the proposed contract.
This step of the sales process refers to any late-stage activities that happen as a deal approaches closing. It varies widely from company to company and may include delivering a quote or proposal, negotiation, or achieving the buy-in of decision-makers.
Closing a sale is what every salesperson wants to achieve. It should result in a mutually beneficial, contractual agreement between the prospect and the seller. Once a deal closes, the salesperson receives a commission on the price they negotiated with the customer, and the account usually passes to an account manager or customer success representative.
7. Nurture and continue to sell.
Although closing deals is the ultimate goal in sales, it’s not where sales reps stop working with customers. Not only should reps confirm that customers receive what they’ve purchased, but they should also play a part in transitioning customers to whichever team is responsible for onboarding and customer success.
The final step of the sales process also involves continuing to communicate and reinforce value to customers. This can provide opportunities to upsell and cross-sell, as well as opportunities to get secure referrals from delighted customers.