One of the myths surrounding salespeople is that there are “natural” sales people. These folks were just born knowing how to sell. They know exactly what to do and say at every single point in the sales funnel, and they can close any deal. If only your whole sales team were made up of these superstars, you’d exceed your quota every single quarter.
This is not true, of course. Although there are many talented salespeople out there, great salespeople aren’t born, they’re trained. They use a proven formula that tells them which actions need to be taken during certain times in a sales cycle. That formula is called the sales process.
What is a sales process?
A sales process, sometimes called the sales funnel, is a map of your sales cycle. It outlines exactly the actions your sales team needs to take at each stage of the sale in order to successfully make a sale.
Having a sales process is key to an organization’s success. When you have a defined process, it gives your team a clear, repeatable set of steps that will take them through the sales process from beginning to end. The point is to ensure that your entire team is on the same page. They know when to call, when to check in with a prospect, and when to ask for the sale. The last thing you want is your sales team going rogue and developing their own processes, which may or may not work: according to the Bridge Group, only 68 percent of sales reps will make quota without a sales process to follow.
How many steps are in a sales process?
This might seem like an easy question to answer, but no two sales processes are quite the same. Some processes have as few as two or three steps. Some have several steps. The complexity of the sales process depends on the complexity of your organization’s sales cycle and the kinds of prospects you are targeting.
Every sales process, however, does the same thing: take a rep through the initial contact, qualification, engagement, and closing the deal. The sample sales process below accomplishes these things using five steps.
The steps of a sales process
This sales process covers the journey of a prospect through the sales funnel, starting with the prospecting stage.
- Prospecting: Companies generate leads in various ways. Some use inbound lead generation, while others go out and hunt down prospects who may be ideal for their product or service. Many companies do both. Regardless of how it’s done in your organization, the prospecting phase is the process of finding prospective customers. This might be done by marketing, presales, a dedicated lead gen team, or sales reps themselves.
- Connecting: In this phase, your sales team makes first contact with leads, either through calls, emails, social media, or a combination of methods.
- Research or lead qualification: This is where your sales engineers shine. The presales team is often responsible for researching and qualifying your prospects, so that the sales team knows which leads really need the product you’re selling, why that lead needs it, and if that lead has the budget to buy it.
- Proposal: In some companies this is also known as the presentation or demo phase. In this phase, your presales team presents your solutions to the potential buyer, either in the form of a presentation or a written proposal.
- Closing: After the presentation, demo, or proposal, it’s time to ask for the sale. That falls to the sales rep. After all the nurturing that’s been done, closing should be fairly easy by this point.
Additional steps, especially in a B2B sale, may include more engagement steps, and renewal, which is another place where presales steps in to ask existing customers to renew their subscription.
Using automation to streamline the sales process
A sales process is important when it comes to making it easier for your sales team to close deals, but it’s also important to invest in tools that can automate and shorten your sales cycle.
The proposal phase in particular can be a time-consuming step in the sales process. Using RFP automation, like Ombud’s platform, your sales representatives and presales engineers can easily pull together a proposal without having to write a several-page document from scratch. Instead, they can pull from Ombud’s content library to find the best, most up-to-date sales content for their proposals. This lets them put together customized proposals, and move quickly to the next step of the sales process.
Interested in learning more? Find out how Ombud can help you shorten your sales process. Request your demo here.