How to Improve Your Sales Process: 7 Strategies

Written by Joseph Dutson

Published on December 10, 2020

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Reports show that companies that implement a sales process will outperform those that do not. Your sales process can mean the difference between generating significant sales and never meeting any of your sales quotas. 

But not all sales processes are the same. Some enable companies to perform much better than others. Everything depends on the framework you provide for your sales team. If your organization’s sales process is faulty, then the actions associated with that process will be ineffective.

If you want your company to benefit from an effective sales process, you need to improve the one you use. Here are several strategies for improving your sales process:

1. Map Out Your Existing Sales Process

You cannot deal with what you don’t confront. In the same way, you need to understand your current sales process to learn what’s wrong with it. But that could prove very difficult if your company does not have a sales playbook to start with.

Companies that have a formal sales playbook are 33% more likely to be high performers. And yet, 40% of companies don’t even have one to start with. So, if you belong to the latter category, your first order of business is to map out your existing sales process. That means having a consultative meeting to discuss how you usually sell and what goes on at each stage. 

The goal is to get a basic idea of what usually happens. That way, if you were to onboard new sales employees tomorrow, they would have a knowledge base to refer to. That playbook also enables your sales team to study your way of selling to determine what could be wrong with it and why it’s not working.

2. Understand Your Ideal Buyer

Do you understand who your ideal buyers are? Does your company have buyer personas to refer to? You must understand your prospects. Otherwise, how would you be able to sell to them?

You need to learn more about your ideal customer. What are they looking for? What are their pain points? What challenges do they have? What motivates them?

Having answers to these questions is essential. Having this information ready will enable your salespeople to position themselves as trustworthy experts who have a solution to your prospects’ problems. It will allow you to frame your value and what differentiates you from the competition. That enables you to handle objections when you arrive at that stage of the sales process.

One way to improve the sales process is by asking the right questions during the discovery call. Such questions will help unearth your buyer’s goals and pain points. That, in turn, will help your sales team improve its sales. The information your sales representatives gain during these calls can help refine every stage of your company’s sales process.

3. Align Your Sales Process with your Buyer’s Journey 

The next order of business is for your sales team to map out your customers’ acquisition procedure and align your sales process with it. 

Selling is not about you. It’s about providing the solutions your prospects need when they need them. That’s why it pays to move at the pace of your prospects. 

For example, did you know that almost 60% of customers want to discuss pricing on the first call? And did you know that more than half of prospects want to see how your product works on the second call? 

How your customers behave may not make sense to your salespeople who have been trained to follow a particular order of generating sales. Your sales team needs to listen and be ready to be flexible with the customer. If your existing sales process is not aligned with the buyer’s journey, you need to change it. Ensure that it aligns with how your prospects make decisions at every stage of their product acquisition process.

4. Improve Your Lead Generation and Qualification Methods

Prospecting is the first stage of any sales process. The quality of leads you generate right from the start will determine the number of prospects you can sell to. It’s no wonder 40% of salespeople say prospecting is the most challenging part of the sales process. An additional 22% consider qualifying as the most challenging part.

For this reason, improving your lead generation and qualification tactics is instrumental to improving your entire sales process. The source of your leads and how you qualify them can make or break your prospecting efforts. 

Studies show that 100-200 new sales opportunities every month offer the best result; and that 72% of companies who have 50 or fewer new opportunities monthly end up not meeting their quota. Meaning you must have a system that generates leads, qualifies prospects, and comes up with sales opportunities. 

The system must be sustainable if you are to continue selling. If your lead generation and qualification methods don’t work, your sales team will have limited prospects to convert into customers. 

You could start by using email to get leads since it’s 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than both Facebook and Twitter. Then be sure to have a lead scoring strategy that provides you with excellent prospects for your sales representatives to sell to.

5. Encourage Feedback from Your Sales Team

Are the lines in your sales department clear and open? If they are not, your sales process is most likely ineffective.

Your department must have regular meetings that involve all members of your sales team. Everyone should be encouraged to share their challenges, successes, observations, and any other issues they may be dealing with. 

It’s that feedback from your team that will help you identify where the bottlenecks are within the sales process so that you can find a way to resolve them. 

For example, 80% of business decision-makers would instead get company information in a series of articles rather than an advert? You may know this, but what you may not know is what kind of information they are looking for and at which stage of their buying process they want this information to be provided. 

Your sales reps can help your company but sharing the prospect's feedback and their frustrations about the content you have provided. You could then coordinate with the marketing department to provide the content to use while selling.

Regular meetings can also help you discuss individual and team performances. If someone is not doing what they should, those meetings will help you know. Everyone will be able to show ownership of their tasks within the sales process. These meetings will help you improve accountability at every stage of the sales process. It will help get things moving because everyone knows what they need to do to sell and be held accountable.

6. Embrace Technology for Data Analysis and Automation

Technology can boost the efficacy of your sales process tremendously. Using a CRM like HubSpot can make all the difference in the world. 

A CRM application that manages your contacts (helps in prospecting) can improve your sales by 29%. But that’s not all, and it can help you increase your sales productivity by 34% and improve your sales forecast by as much as 42%! And that’s just one kind of technological tool.

Did you know that you are nine times more likely to convert them if you follow up with a web lead within the first five minutes? This is not always possible because you only have so many salespeople you can put to work. However, you can create a series of emails to help nurture your leads and qualify them. 

Some sales-related tasks will be repetitive. You make your entire sales process more effective by automating these tasks at every stage so that your sales reps can concentrate on selling. Task automation helps to increase productivity and would help shorten your lead-to-close cycle.

Data analytic tools can also help you gain insight into what is working and what needs more effort. It could show you how many follow-ups your average customer needs and when these should be done to move them along the sales cycle. 

Additionally, by using technology to improve your sales forecasts, you can reverse engineer all your sales process tasks. That will enable the sales reps to know what actions they should take at each stage of the sales process and how many prospects they should be dealing with to achieve their sales quotas.

7. Review Your KPIs

You should review your Key Performance Indicators (KPI) every time you refine your sales process. This ensures you can determine what’s working and what’s not so that you can make additional changes. 

According to the Sales Performance Survey Report of 2019, the top KPIs for both sales reps and sales leaders are:

  • Pipeline generated
  • Opportunities created
  • Revenue generated

But you can also measure other KPIs that give you better insight into how well your sales process is performing now vs. how it was performing before you made previous changes. These include:

  • Closing rate
  • Burn rate
  • Sales to date this month
  • Sales to date this year
  • Lifetime customer value
  • Customer acquisition cost
  • Churn rate

Determine which KPIs best fit your company sales and use them to chart your progress.

Improving your sales process will take time and effort on the part of your entire sales department. It may also require an investment of money and training resources. But when you do it right, it will boost your company’s sales performance tremendously by making it easier for everyone to sell successfully. So, take the time to improve your sales process today and see the difference it makes to your company’s bottom line.

Originally published Dec 10, 2020 1:00:00 PM, updated Dec 10, 2020