The 8 Major Characteristics of a Good Sales Process

Written by Chris Crosby

Published on December 3, 2020

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Every company looking to sell a product or service to its customers should have a good sales process. After all, it is the road map that each member of the sales team can use to close deals quickly. 

But what makes an effective sales process? It is something you need to understand before you create or refine your company’s sales process.

There is a common thread running through organizations that have excellent sales processes. While their products, services, and markets may differ, the methods that they use to sell have common characteristics. And it’s these characteristics that you need to learn to ensure that your sales cycle works just as efficiently.

Below are the major characteristics of a good sales process that you need to know about:

1. A Good Sales Process Must Be Clearly Defined and Documented

Does your organization have a sales process that is clearly defined and documented? If the answer to this question is no, then you are in serious trouble. Unfortunately, you are not alone. Studies show that 40% of sales teams don’t have a playbook. 

Many companies make a similar mistake of not correctly defining and documenting their sales processes. Yet those that do are 33% more likely to be high performers. The good news is that you can rectify that.

Start by defining the stages of your sales process. Clearly define each of these stages by describing what occurs during each phase, what buyer behaviors to look out for, and milestones that sales representatives should aim to accomplish. Also, include what salespeople should say or do at each stage depending on buyer behavior, qualifications to use to determine when a potential buyer is moved to the next step of the sales process, etc.

By documenting and defining every stage of the sales process, there is little room for ambiguity. That makes your sales reps’ work much more manageable. An established sales playbook also enables everyone to have a trustworthy resource they can use for reference when they are in doubt about what to do or say.

2. A Good Sales Process Must Be Customer-Centric

A sales process is about enabling your company to have a good road map to use when selling products and services. The customer has to be at the heart of this process. The framework you use must bear in mind the needs, wants, and behavior of the customers you want to do business with.

It begins right from the prospecting stage. Surprisingly, 50% of sales time is wasted on unsuccessful prospecting. Research also shows that 42% of salespeople don’t have enough information before making a call to their prospects.

Right from the start, it means many salespeople do not have a real understanding of who their ideal buyer is. They may have access to the right prospects, and they just don’t have a complete account of what they need and their pain points, etc. 

Therefore, sales reps must adjust their selling activities to fit into the customers’ needs rather than the other way around. The stages of the sales process should always reflect those of the buyer’s progress. It’s all about moving at the speed of the buyer.

3. A Good Sales Process Must Be Structured But With Room for Flexibility

An effective sales process must have some kind of order. Your sales process must support all the core sales activities within your organization. It must provide a workable structure that sales teams can use to get things done, even with minimal supervision.

But you must also remember that no two people are alike. This is why your sales process must also be dynamic to a certain extent. 

Your sales process should not be so rigid that it prevents your sales rep from thinking outside the box to find the right solutions when confronted with new obstacles. It must provide some room for flexibility in how salespeople deal with prospects in complex situations. Otherwise, deals that your sales team could have won will end up being lost, losing your company revenue.

4. A Good Sales Process Must Be Scalable

If your company was to grow significantly within the next few months, would your sales process be able to withstand the new demands? A scalable sales process will enable your sales team to replicate its results if there are more prospects to deal with. 

Whether you are dealing with 10, 1000, or 10,000 prospects, your process should still be effective at helping your team turn potential customers into paying ones. It should be able to do this without compromising the productivity, efficiency, and speed at which you close your deals.

5. A Good Sales Process Must Create Value for Its Stakeholders

There is no point in having a sales process if it does not create value for its primary stakeholders. Both salespeople and prospects must benefit from the process at every stage.

Did you know that 80% of sales are made by only 20% of salespeople? That means 80% of salespeople on your team are not pulling their weight. Imagine how much revenue growth you could achieve if you could help them become better at what they do!

An effective sales process must enable the average sales rep to do better and become more successful at selling. It must, therefore, be easy to adapt and create value for the sales representatives. So, you must ensure your process is easy to learn and improve the average salesperson’s performance. 

It must also include strategies that help boost sales and remove any identified obstacles within the sales pipeline. If it’s not improving their results, then it’s time for your team to refine that process.

Your sales process must also create value for your customers. This can be done by ensuring the process makes life easier for your prospect.  It must help them in their decision-making process. It should allow sales representatives to demonstrate and offer timely and relevant solutions to your prospects.

6. A Good Sales Process Must Be Self-Correcting

No business environment should be stagnant. Life is dynamic. People and ways of doing things change. For this reason, it pays to ensure your sales process is self-correcting. It must be sensitive to the changing needs of the environment in which it is used. It should be easy to modify.

An effective sales process must be able to self-correct based on the feedback from customers and sales representatives. You should easily modify it based on buyer patterns, changing technologies, and new information that affects your sales activities. 

For example, reports show that 95% of customers choose solution providers based on whether they offer relevant content at every stage of the buying process. Based on this information, the sales process should be modified to include tasks that will lead to content creation at every step. There could be content to create awareness of the problem, content that educates prospects on multiple solutions available, content that shows how your product solved your customers’ pain points, etc.

So, do take the time to listen to what your salespeople and customers say when creating or refining your sales process. It will make it more effective at helping your sales team sell.

7. An Effective Sales Process Must Be Data-Driven With Measurable Milestones

Having the right kind of data associated with your sales is the most objective way to gain insight into customer and sales representatives’ behaviors. However, only 46% of sales reps have data insights into customer behavior. Yet, high-performing sales teams are 150% more likely to base forecasts on data-driven insights.

For your sales process to help your sales team convert prospects into paying customers, you need to have data. Gut feelings have no place in selling. So, that means first having milestones that are easy to track and measure. At each stage, your sales process should have objective milestones and useful metrics that can be used to keep track of the progress.

Some of the metrics you can use to measure your progress include; the number of engaged stakeholders at each stage, conversion rates, quality of leads based on a predetermined score, win rate, push rate, deal velocity, number of closed deals, etc.

The higher the quality of data you can obtain throughout the sales process, the more accurate your insight will be. This will help your sales forecasts be more realistic and achievable. 

8. A Good Sales Process Must Be Efficient 

How efficient is your sales process?

When you invest in technology, you will be better positioned to create an efficient sales process. The average company spends about $3,900 on around six sales tools per rep per year. These are meant to enhance CRM, social prospecting, data listing, email engagement, phoning, and sales cadence activities within the organization.

The kind of leads you have to start with matters. That is why about 90% of companies usually use two or more tools to understand their leads and boost their sales performance. The more efficient your prospecting techniques are, the more efficient your entire sales process will be.

You should also ensure that your sales activities are automated where possible. High-performing companies are twice as likely to describe themselves as automated compared to low-performing companies. By automating repetitive tasks, your sales team will be able to concentrate on selling more.

Another way to make your sales processes more efficient is by continuously training your salespeople. That way, they can remember what they need to do and learn how to handle new business environment changes. It’s why high-performing sales organizations are twice as likely to invest in training for their salespeople compared to the low-performing ones.

An efficient sales process will help to enhance collaboration and usually involves the right technology. It should enable you to have seamless integration between your marketing and sales departments. But it must also ensure a collaborative environment within your sales teams. It also helps to invest in technology that enables customer data included within the sales management systems.

How good of a sales process you have depends on whether it consists of the characteristics of effective sales processes. So, ensure that your company’s sales process is structured with the right amount of flexibility and factors in all stakeholders’ needs and provides value to them using efficient and automated systems that allow for self-correction. And with tools like HubSpot Sales Software, creating an effective sales process is much easier now.

Originally published Dec 3, 2020 1:00:00 PM, updated Dec 3, 2020