You know the saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” Well, what if you don’t know it’s broken?
In the world of B2B, things change quickly. So something that worked a year ago (*cough* your current sales process *cough*), probably isn’t as effective presently.
Sales process optimization isn’t a one and done activity. Rather, it’s something you have to regularly maintain and update. Even the most evergreen processes need some upkeep once in a while. And today, we’re telling you to give your sales process a little TLC.
It’s time to optimize.
What Is A Sales Process? And Why You Absolutely Need One
A typical sales process is more of a guide than a strict, set in stone schedule. Yet they usually consist of a series of repeatable steps that a salesperson can take with a prospect in order to move them down the sales funnel.
While different companies may incorporate different steps, most sales processes involve
- Initiating contact
- Identifying needs
- Presenting offers
- Establish KPIs
- Closing a deal
And once you’ve closed a deal, you start all over again (hopefully with a better list of referrals or repeat sales).
It seems pretty simple, right? Yet a B2B sales cycle can take anywhere between three and nine months, sometimes, even longer. There are a host of obstacles that stand in the way of sales reps being able to close a deal in a relatively short period of time, and one of the biggest is a poorly defined, loosely monitored sales process.
Why you need a sales process:
- Higher conversions: Conversion rates are dependent upon the design of your sales process. So when you understand the process in detail, you can make it more efficient. You can also add tools to your existing tech stack that will make the process easier for your salespeople to carry out.
- Bigger deals: Sales reps who live and breathe their sales process know how to both target and nurture larger accounts which generates more revenue for the company. A well structured sales process allows sales reps to target these larger accounts because it equips them with the right tools to manage high-value deals.
- Less time: The B2B sales cycle is long. And sales reps can often find themselves wasting a lot of time trying to sign deals that will never close. A solid sales process will help reps and AEs recognize a lost deal early. This is why qualifying prospects is an important step in any sales workflow.
What’s The Challenge?
As we said earlier, sales processes are mapped out, replicable steps that salespeople can follow to best guide prospects through the sales funnel. Yet some companies only have a series of tasks or time based activities, rather than formal processes. And those that do have processes put in place could have out of order sequences or missing steps altogether.
- Much of the buyer journey happens without help from a sales rep: According to Gartner, B2B buyers are spending nearly 70% of the buying journey finding and analyzing information without the help of a sales rep.
- Leaks in the sales pipeline: Is your team having issues with prospecting, nurturing, closing, or upselling? If your reps are struggling with either one of these steps, you’ve got yourself a leaky pipeline.
- Customer desire for personalization: Personalization at scale is a huge challenge for the modern B2B salesperson. Yet it’s incredibly necessary. B2B customers want unique experiences that require multiple touchpoints through various channels.
Steps To Optimizing Your Sales Process
Now it’s time for the good stuff: how to optimize your sales process. Adding the following steps into your sales workflow will take your overall process to the next level, and will definitely be reflected in overall ROI.
1. Define customer journey
Knowing how your customers operate is key to being able to sell to potential ones. Sit down with your sales team to determine how your customers do just that — turn into customers. What decision makers are typically involved in making a purchase? How can you build trust and credibility with them? How many touch points do you need to make? These questions will help you determine various aspects of your overall process, allowing reps to know what to expect with each sale.
2. Build out ICPs
Ideal customer profiles are imperative for helping you focus on the right type of prospect, so that you don’t waste time chasing hopeless leads. It’s always a better idea to create long-lasting strategic relationships with ideal customers, rather than pursuing short-term quick wins.
If you don’t know where to start, always turn to the data. Firmographic, technographic, and intent data are great starting points for building out buyer personas, because they are reflective of real people.
3. Identify Pipeline Bottlenecks
Are your leads consistently becoming stagnant at the same stage of the funnel? Do you have a lot of leads entering the funnel , but few actually becoming qualified? Then you’ve got yourself a pipeline bottleneck.
The solution to a pipeline bottleneck is typically a good lead nurturing campaign. Gaining new leads means nothing if they don’t actually matriculate through the funnel. The goal is to nurture leads over time so that when they are ready to buy, they’ll knock on your door.
4. Prioritize Sales and Marketing Alignment
You might be thinking, “what does marketing have to do with the sales process?” To which my answer is, a lot. While sales and marketing teams have similar goals (i.e increase revenue and growth), they often struggle to work together effectively. Marketers generate leads that sales reps ignore, and sales reps don’t want to spend too much time prospecting for leads.
Instead of working against each other, sales and marketing should collaborate on determining quarterly goals, defining leads, and overall KPIs. When sales and marketing work together, you’ll be blown away by how much can get done.
5. Use automation
Sales processes have many moving parts and can become incredibly complex, fast. Too complex for us to manage effectively. Enter, automation tools. Automation technology can help save you time on top of making your life easier. From prospecting to closing deals, there are tools that help you along each step of the buyer journey.
6. Measure KPIs
A process without an end goal is, well, pretty useless. People need to know what they’re working towards — that’s what motivation is all about right? In order to have a goal in mind, you need to identify, track, and measure the right data.
Sales reps need to know what KPIs they are working towards and managers should provide continuous feedback and update them on progress being made. Metrics that actually improve sales performance, rather than just vanity metrics, should be prioritized. These include things like percent of team meeting quota, average on target earnings, and sales cycle length.
When It Comes To Sales Process Optimization, There’s Always Room For Improvement
Sales processes are just that — a process. They take a lot of trial and error in order to figure out what works best for your company. The most important step is measuring progress and KPIs, because that will tell you what needs some adjusting.
You may think you have the perfect sales process in place already. And maybe you do. But in an industry that’s constantly changing, it never hurts to take a look under the hood, and see what could be working better.