This is the tenth article in our 12-part subscription sales series, designed to help you understand and prepare for the evolving sales landscape. This article details the importance of setting sales processes and provides a roadmap to create these processes for your own company. Don’t forget to read the previous nine articles in this series; a new sales strategy, customer segmentation, understanding your customer market, customer-centric sales approaches, understanding the customer journey, the road to profitability, online channels, and part one and part two of our data guides.
The importance of sales processes
In our previous subscription sales article we reiterated the importance of defining sales processes as a foundation of data reporting. But sales processes are critical for much more. Business processes are key to transforming sales from an elusive art to a repeatable, controllable science.
Sales processes allow businesses to conduct controlled experiments. Each time a customer moves through the sales journey, the sales team receives immediate feedback through data to learn what worked and what did not. If the right feedback loops are in place, businesses can use lessons learnt to continuously refine and improve their processes to deliver increasingly improved outcomes.
Creating sales processes
The high-level steps to create your sales process roadmap are below:
- Map sales activities from start to finish
- Group these activities by role
- Identify gaps and overlaps
- Measure the performance of the approach through reporting
- Edit, streamline and refine the process as required
It’s important to adopt a customer-centric approach when mapping out sales processes. The above exercise should start with mapping your customers’ behaviour at each stage of the journey, as well as their preference for how to buy. Once this perspective is clear, you can work backwards and detail the most efficient path for the sales team to support your customers’ activities.
Critical steps in sales processes
There are a series of stages in the customer journey. Within each stage, there are a number of activities completed by both the customer and the sales team that should be mapped out in detail. These customer identifiers are key milestones that provide a sales team with signals that communicate which stage of the process a customer is currently in.
While we know customers move between stages at random and not always in order, sales teams must follow a linear path. To deliver a consistent, high-quality customer experience, specific sales activities must be completed within each stage. These activities can include emailing, following up, demonstrations, sending proposals or any other sales activities relevant to your sales process. The best practices of mapped sales activities should be clearly defined to guide sales teams through a structure that effectively supports customers in their sales process path.
To demonstrate, we will use the example of the sales activity of sending a proposal. Until this point in the journey, customer behaviour will vary between individuals. One customer may have spoken with a sales rep for months, while another customer’s first engagement may have been requesting a proposal. Regardless of customer behaviour, the same below key activities must be completed by sales for each client before they receive a proposal.
- Client stakeholders should be mapped out (e.g. the economic buyer, internal business champion, etc.) to ensure all important participants are considered.
- A draft proposal should be circulated internally for review and feedback as a quality check.
- This proposal should be tested with the internal business champion to get their input and feedback.
- The final proposal should be sent to the client after these activities are completed.
Defining and implementing these critical activities for each stage of the sales process provides confidence that customers are receiving a consistent experience. It is also an effective control mechanism to ensure data accurately and consistently reflects customer progress through the sales journey, demonstrating that every customer with a proposal is equal in reporting terms.
Contact us for more information on creating the right sales processes to set your business up for success.
The next article in the series help you select the right tools to support your sales processes.