A clearly defined, repeatable sales process helps you produce accurate sales forecasts, nail your sales targets, and empowers your sales team to achieve new levels of success. A 2015 study conducted by Vantage Point Performance and the Sales Management Association revealed that companies with a formal sales process realized 18% higher revenue growth than companies without one.
Yes, you can hit your quotas and be successful without a sales process. That success probably won’t last long if you don’t have a process in place for replicating it. Random activities produce unpredictable, unreliable results which prevent you from realizing your sales potential.
What Is a Sales Process?
A sales process is a systematic approach to sales that helps sales professionals convert a prospect into a new customer by undertaking a series of steps. That series of steps is documented, repeatable, and scalable. A typical sales process might include the following stages:
- Prospecting – Sourcing new leads
- Qualifying – Making contact with leads to gather information, learn about their needs, and determine if an opportunity exists
- Presentation – A formal presentation or demonstration delivered to well qualified prospects
- Closing – Activities that are completed in order to close the deal. Can involve generating a quote or proposal, overcoming objections, winning over decision makers, negotiating, and more. Some or all of these actions might be broken out into separate steps.
Benefits of Using a Sales Process
Sales managers benefit from implementing a process in several ways. An effective sales process incorporates sales tools like CRM software for collecting data at various points in the process. With a standardized sales process and the right CRM, sales managers can quickly view:
- The Sales Pipeline – Opportunities sorted by value
- The Sales Forecast – Opportunities viewed by projected close date
- The Sales Funnel – Opportunities viewed by stage in the sales process
Having this data available in real time allows a sales manager to quickly pinpoint the opportunities that are worth pursuing and identify any problems. Key metrics based on the available data can be established for analyzing performance.
The benefits of having a sales process extend to sales professionals as well. There’s less ramp up time for new sales reps. Their skills build faster due to every opportunity following the same series of steps. There’s also less uncertainty over what to do at any given stage as reps aren’t tasked with finding their own way to close deals.
Simply having a sales process doesn’t guarantee results. Not having a process virtually guarantees your sales team isn’t maximizing their effectiveness, your results aren’t sustainable, and your profits aren’t what they could be. If your company is still organizing its sales activity with spreadsheets, your information quickly becomes out of date and useless for management decision making. An effective sales process and a good CRM tool can produce real-time dashboards and reports, giving you the information you need to lead a successful sales organization.