Sales is a goal-driven process, so forming a repeatable sales process that’s easily scalable is stressful. It needs to be tight as a drum so when you add more sticks (salespeople) to the fold (or even a handful more leads into the funnel), it doesn’t crack under pressure. You need to fine-tune the actions of every single rep and every team to be in sync throughout every stage of the process. Done right, you’ll have yourself a steady and efficient repeatable sales process that acts a key driver for your growth.
How, we hear you ask? There’s certainly no shortage of resources on this particular subject where everyone describes a lengthy process and a myriad of steps required for it, followed by endless diagrams. Here’s all you need to know, broken down into three main elements:
- Understanding your value
- Refining your lead list
- Funnel stage alignment
And you also get only one diagram.
Let’s start you off on a path toward defining your company’s ideal repeatable sales process.
Step #1: understanding your value
Gone are the days where salespeople would target almost any business even remotely resembling a customer and hope for the best. If your sales process begins with the “cast the net wide”, you really, really need this post.
Moving your prospecting stage from cold outreach to prospect and market research requires undertaking a few important steps. First of all, you need to understand your competitive landscape and see who you’re up against, be it a tech company that offers virtually the same solution or one that has a more comprehensive package. Only then will you be able to figure out how to get noticed among the fierce competition, as well as get a scoop on different types of companies your competitors have wrapped under their belt. These are the types of companies who are your ideal customers. You’ll need to create a target list and map them out using criteria such as technology stack, web traffic, business vertical, geolocation, and so on. Once you understand who these companies are and create a list of potential customers that fit this ideal customer profile, you can then set your sights on the relevant position holder within the organization. Your best bet and the most direct route to finding the relevant decision maker is by using a BI (business intelligence) tool - there are other options in the mix (it’s a whole separate topic, really). Identifying these targets means your reps won’t have to run around in circles but go straight to the source.
Efficiency is the key benefit here as targeted prospecting allows your salespeople to bypass chasing low-value prospects on limited information and focus their efforts on high-value businesses that show actual promise.
Step #2: refining your lead list
Make no mistake: while the refined prospect list most definitely is a considerable step forward, it’s only one part of the overall sales equation you’re trying to solve. Qualifying leads is where your sales reps truly get down to the nitty-gritty and shape a well-defined sales process. Extra guidance is needed here to avoid ending up with a large number of opportunities and a finite amount of resources to devote to them, resulting in fewer conversions.
Image credit: Living Free Enterprises LLC
What you need to do is come up with a framework and figure out what questions relate the most. There’s a certain hierarchy that highly effective qualifiers go by when determining where to invest their time. It includes three different levels:
- Organization-level - the basic qualification pertaining to questions relating to ideal customer profile fit, geography, business vertical, demographics, business size, and so on.
- Opportunity-level - determining whether your prospect has a specific need or problem you can solve for them, whether they are able to implement your solution ASAP, as well as if they are product-market fit - anything that indicates a prospect could benefit from your product or service.
- Stakeholder-level - this is where you get down to brass tacks with the relevant position holder and try to assess if that is the right person for making a deal happen, are there other decision-makers and influencers, budget considerations, and what are the criteria vis-a-vis the purchase decision.
This shouldn’t be a set and forget method but rather a flexible template that will be constantly updated to your business’ needs. There should be more questions tailored both to your business and your prospects. Closely following such a pattern means that qualification remains uniform between teams and reps so everyone involved knows exactly what a “qualified lead” really is.
Step #3: funnel stage alignment
Often this is a precarious stage where sales reps, encouraged by all the positive results this far in the sales funnel, rush and try to close the deal too fast. The key is to push opportunities through every funnel stage and set the entry and exit criteria for each stage of it. That way, you ensure two things:
- Your salespeople stick to a uniform process without missing out on a stage where initial interest could be misread
- The entry and exit criteria are the same for each opportunity, relying on objectivity, rather than a gut feeling, to measure success and determine what’s next
Once more, it’s about consistency and not blindly adhering to a set of rules and guidelines as your business needs to adapt to your buyer’s journey, as well as your own specific needs. The imminent value of a well-defined funnel is steady communication across all departments, making it easier to review opportunities among team members.
Your sales process is a work in progress
This is far from set in stone - your sales process is a constant work in progress as you try to understand where each of your prospects comes from, how are they made up, what information you can leverage, and how much more can you get out of them. Customers don’t always follow through and so creating a repeatable process has a lot to do with getting in the habit of following a streamlined, systematic set of actions. By putting those actions in the center of attention, the sale practically takes care of itself, with reps just gently nudging prospects toward it. Make sure to periodically review the process and see if there is anything that could be done better. That’s the foundation for your growth we’re talking about.