The Ultimate Guide to Building a Sales Process
The Ultimate Guide to Building a Sales Process
Do you think it would be better to just go with the flow? Or would you make a plan that provides structure and structure for your talk?
Unless you’re a master of improv, you’ll likely create an outline if you want your audience to gain value from your presentation.
Your B2B sales efforts need structure and process, just like a great speech.
Effective sales processes boost conversions, turn more potential customers into closed deals, and ensure all of your reps provide customers with positive and consistent experiences — no matter who they’re talking to.
Many sales managers have difficulty building repeatable sales processes that are scalable.
That’s why we’ve created this guide to help you find the best tactics for building a sales process tailored to your business.
Sales Process Steps
How to Improve Your Selling Process
How to map the sales process
Sales Process vs. Sales Methodology
Common sales process mistakes
What is a sales process?
Why should you build a sales funnel?
A sales process can be thought of as a map that guides sales staff to convert potential leads into customers. Without the map, your marketing team’s lead generation efforts will quickly be wasted.
A standard sales process can help less experienced reps quickly learn best practices and what to do at each stage of the sales cycle.
If you have a solid sales process, you will be able to make more money. Your sales team will be more productive if they have a common framework. This video will give you a better understanding of the “what”, “how” and “why” behind sales processes.
Now that you understand what a sale process is and why you should have one, let us look at the steps or stages that a typical sales cycle follows.
7 Step Sales Process
- Connect and qualify leads
- Do your research on the company.
- Effective pitch.
- Handle objections
- Close the deal
- Continue to nurture and sell.
Prospecting refers to the process of finding new leads in the early stages of the sales process. Prospecting is an essential part of the sales process.
Prospecting could involve research online on sites like LinkedInOder Quora. This could also be done at industry events or conferences. You can also prospect by asking your clients and colleagues to refer potential customers who might be interested.
2. Connect and qualify leads
Reps will initiate contact with early-stage leads in order to gather information. This is called the connect step. The second part of this step is qualifying new leads — deciding whether or not they’re a good-fit lead for your business and whether or not they’ll likely move forward in the buyer’s journey.
A rep can often identify qualified leads via a “discovery”, or “connect” call. This is done by asking questions like:
- “What is your role in the company?”
- “What do you do day-to-day?”
- “What problem do you want to solve?”
- “Why is this important for your business?”
- “What other solutions do you evaluate?”
3. Do your research on the company.
Next, reps will need to conduct research about each prospect and their company.
Research helps reps place themselves in the customers’ shoes, which allows them to provide a more personalized and personal experience that will increase the chance of closing a sale.
This stage is crucial because it allows you to understand the challenges and needs of each prospect and then present your product or solution.
Your rep may need to meet with people from different departments within the company to gain a fuller picture of the business’s objectives and goals. Salespeople should be able to comprehend the company better than each prospect.
4. Effective pitch.
This is where your salesperson will demonstrate a product or service to your prospect.
This step is time-consuming, so it typically comes later in the sales process and is reserved for more qualified prospects — which is why the connecting and qualifying step is so critical. If it can be avoided, you don’t want sales reps wasting their time.
Each presentation should be tailored to the prospect’s needs and circumstances. A rep may bring an engineer, or executive to show the level of service that the customer will get when doing business with your company. They can also answer technical questions that the rep may not be able to answer.
5. Handle objections
Prospects may have objections to the proposal and presentation of your salesperson. In fact, it’s expected — which is why this is a specific step in the sales process. It is important that your sales team is prepared to deal with any objections.
Your reps can better tailor your product for their prospects by listening to their objections and questions. Reps must anticipate and identify possible objections through their research and presentation preparation.
6. Close the deal
This is the final stage of the sales cycle and includes all activities that occur as a deal nears closing. This step can vary from one company to the next and could include delivering a proposal or quote, negotiation or getting buy-in from decision-makers.
Every salesperson dreams of closing a sale. It should lead to a mutually beneficial contract between the seller and prospect. The salesperson is paid a commission for the sale. After the deal closes, the account passes to a customer success representative or account manager.
7. Continue to nurture and sell.
Sales reps shouldn’t stop working with customers, even though closing deals is their ultimate goal. Reps should not only confirm that customers have received what they ordered, but they should also help transition customers to the appropriate team responsible for customer onboarding and success.
The last step in the sales process is to continue communicating and strengthening value to customers. This could provide opportunities for cross-selling and upselling, as well as secure referrals from happy customers.
Next, let’s discuss how to improve this process.
How to Improve Your Selling Process
- Analyze your current sales process.
- Outline the buyer’s journey for your target persona.
- Define the prospect’s next step.
- Define exit criteria for each stage of your sales process.
- Measuring the success of your sales process.
These best practices can help you increase the effectiveness of your sales process for your customers and team.
1. Analyze your current sales process.
To make your new process more effective for your sales reps, consider what is working and what isn’t. This will allow you to close more deals and delight your customers more.
You can observe sales reps during the sales process to gauge its success.
Consider the five- to ten most recent deals you have closed. How did the deals look from start to finish? What were the key touchpoints with customers?
Take into account how long it took to complete the process and how many minutes were lost between each step. The more examples that you have, and the more people from which they come, the better.
Once you have outlined the timeline, go backward to determine the timeframe for each deal. Let’s say six of those ten deals close in six weeks. Now let’s look at how long it takes to reach the same conclusion.
It might look like this when you work backward
- A week of deliberation is required before the contract can be signed (during “closing”)
- Follow-up emails and phone calls are required (during the “handling of objections” step).
- One demo (during step “presenting”)
- One phone call and two or three emails are all that is required during the “research” phase.
- One discovery call (during “connecting”)
- Three phone calls and two warm emails to prospect (during “prospecting”)
It is possible to dig deeper and understand the motivations and pain points behind each deal.
2. Outline the buyer’s journey for your target persona.
The buyer’s journey for your target market or buyer personas. This will enable you to see your sales process through the eyes of your customers. This will allow you to gain a better understanding of your customers’ interactions with your reps, their pain points, and why they choose your product or service.
If you create a buyer’s journey map for your target persona you will gain insight into how to tailor your sales process so that your team can build strong relationships with prospects, and close more deals.
3. Define the prospect’s next step.
Understanding what causes prospects to move between stages in your sales process is important. The reason or cause should be determined by the prospect’s actions and not the perceptions of the sales rep.
The following questions can help you identify the right action to take to move prospects forward:
- “Was a rep able to identify a pain point in warm outreach that motivated the prospect for a discovery phone?”
- “Are there any objections during the demo that prevented the deal from moving forward or features that helped it move forward?”
- “When a rep made a pitch, was the answer an immediate ‘yes’ from the customer? If the answer was yes, think carefully about how that happened. What was the process that led to the pitch?
4. Define exit criteria for each stage of your sales process.
For each step in the sales process, define the exit criteria. This is how you identify what needs to be done for prospects to move through each step of the sales process. For more information, refer to the sales journey and the steps (as previously mentioned) for guidance.
Consider, for example, that you’re going through the “presenting” step. In that case, your reps might determine they need a specific type of content — such as customer testimonial videos — to share with your prospects to move them to “closing.”
To ensure that all your reps have the exact same information when deciding exit criteria for each stage of the sales process, ask the following questions. That way, they’ll provide all of your prospects with positive, professional, and on-brand information.
- What information should reps be able to share about your brand and what they are selling before they contact a prospect?
- What steps should sales reps take during each stage of the process?
- What should your sales reps say at each step? You need to make sure that your reps know the many ways that a conversation can go and how they manage each one.
- How should reps present content to prospects at different stages of the sales process? This is particularly important during the “presenting” stage where reps may need to show prospects videos, blogs, or testimonials to help them close the deal.
5. Measuring the success of your sales process.
As your sales team discovers ways to be more efficient and move prospects through the pipeline quicker, your sales process will change. As you define and enhance your sales process, you’ll want to measure your success to ensure it successfully coordinates your team’s efforts and reaches your target audience.
Take, for example, the number of prospects who have moved in and out of each stage of the sales process during a period.
This way, you can conclude, “In July, we started with 75 prospects in the ‘awaiting demo’ step … at the end of the month, we had moved through 28 prospects and added 19, leaving us with 66 prospects in the ‘awaiting demo’ step.”
Here are some additional metrics that you can use to measure the progress of your process.
- The average time that prospects spend in each step
- Prospects should not wait too long to take the next step.
- The proportion of prospects that close following a demo
- The proportion of prospects who request demos after a discovery call
- The churn rate is a measure of how quickly customers are churning. How can you use this data early in the sales process to identify mismatched prospects?
These are the key metrics teams consider valuable. Consider metrics that you can use to measure success in your business.
The three levels of success in the sales process are another great way to measure your performance. You can use this information to help you determine which level you are at in your success.
Level 1 Humming
If 80% of your reps meet their quota every month, then your sales process is running smoothly. This is also when all your new hires are being accelerated quickly to achieve target performance and your team doesn’t give you negative feedback about your sales process.
Level 2: Experimenting
Experimenting can be used when sales are not going smoothly. Your team should experiment and test different tactics to discover which one is most effective.
One example is that a team might experiment with different methods of contact during the “connecting” phase of the sales process in order to initiate sales conversations with potential customers. It is possible to test with prospects if they respond well to a certain email template before starting a discussion.
Step 3: Thrashing
Thrashing occurs when a team moves quickly from one solution to the next within a particular sales process. Thrashing can be inefficient and you will want to make sure your team is out of it as soon as possible.
One example is that your reps might try different presentation techniques at the “presenting” stage. It’s impossible to tell what works for the majority of prospects.
Your sales process should never be perfect. However, it should always be adaptable to meet the needs of your business and your prospects.
Now if you have a sales process already, but haven’t mapped it out yet, here’s where to start.
How to create a sales process
- Start at the beginning.
- All stakeholders are welcome.
- Describe the steps involved in selling.
- The buyer’s journey.
- Test, implement and measure.
You can map your sales process by walking through each step and understanding how it applies to your business, your sales team, and your customers.
This process will help you identify inefficiencies, understand what’s working and align your sales process to your business goals. This process helps you and your team create a long-term strategy that will allow for sustainable growth.
When you map your sales process, you answer the “why” behind every decision you make — which is critical because your sales process is the foundation of everything your team does. Let’s look at an example of a fictional business to illustrate how we can map the sales process.
1. Start at the beginning.
You must know where you are going to end up. Setting goals for your sales team is part of the sales process mapping. Your plan should be specific, but not too simple.
Example Fred’s Vegan Food Supply is mapping its sales process. They set their “goal” to improve their win rate by 5% the following quarter.
2. All stakeholders are welcome.
The goal of your sales team cannot be achieved by itself. Other departments across your organization — including marketing, product, customer service, IT, and more — have a stake in your sales process and impact your customer experience. Get together with these stakeholders and share your goal. Then, involve them in your sales process.
ExampleFred brings together his sales and marketing team, customer service executives, product designers, distributors, and customer service managers. These teams can touch potential and existing customers and, consequently, impact the win rate of the sales team.
3. The sales process is described.
We’ve covered the steps of the sales process. Now, it’s time for you to go through each step in relation to your products, business, and sales team. Review your sales history. How effective were your sales steps? Where did prospects go wrong?
Also, how long did each step take on average? With your stakeholders on board, you can map what teams affect each step and what actions they can take — particularly your sales team.
ExampleFred’s sales staff maps out the six stages of his sales process and records the actions they take at each stage. To help them understand how to improve their sales process, they review the 12 months prior to each step.
4. The buyer’s journey.
Next, consider the customer’s view of your sales process. Also, take note of your customers’ reactions and actions to your sales process. To ensure that your team remains customer-centric, keep your buyer personas handy.
Example: Fred’s sales team now maps the buyer’s journey within their established sales process. These actions can be aligned to identify areas where inefficiencies are occurring, which steps are successful, and what need improvement to achieve their goal.
5. Test, implement and measure.
Now you can put the plan to work. You will not know if your process will achieve your goal until it is tested and measured.
ExampleFred and his team put his new sales process into practice. They take their customers through each stage, and then they observe how they react. As they progress through each step, they adjust the parts that aren’t working.
With a map in hand, you can use a flowchart to identify critical actions.
Sales Process Flowchart
The chart helps you to guide your team so that customers have a consistent experience, regardless of who they speak to.
You can create complicated yes/no situations, but you can also create simple flowcharts that show the entire process from start to finish. Here’s an example:
Now that we’ve covered the details of creating and mapping your sales process, let’s review the answer to a common question: What’s the difference between a sales process and a sales methodology?
Sales Process vs. Sales Methodology
It is crucial to know the difference between the sales process and sales methodology. Although closely related, sales methodology and sales process are two completely different things.
We have already discussed that a sales process is a specific set of actions that your sales team must follow to close a customer.
Your sales methodology is the foundation for your sales practices, tactics, and processes. It’s more of a philosophy than a set of steps.
This diagram will help you to visualize it.
Consider your sales process the high-level roadmap of all the steps your team takes. Your sales methods are the different approaches your team can take to the sale process.
A sales methodology is the basis for how your team approaches your sales process. One option is to integrate one. They are a way to simplify the buyer journey of your customers and to ensure that your sales team has professional, effective, and helpful interactions with them.
These are the five top sales methods.
1. Challenger Sales Methodology
The Challenger Sales approach is a way to sell that requires the seller (or Challenger) to teach the prospect. The seller must learn about the customer’s business and tailor their selling methods to meet their needs.
2. Solution Selling
Reps must focus on solving customer problems and not just selling products or services. The customer’s problem is the focus of solutions.
3. The Sandler Selling System
The Sandler Selling SystemBoth the buyer and seller must be invested equally in the sales process. Sales managers who are good at addressing customer concerns early can save time and help both sides. The buyer almost convinces the seller to sell.
4. Consultative selling
Consultative sales emphasize the importance of the salesperson becoming a trusted advisor to customers, building authority and trust over the course of time. Consultative selling is when the sale matches the customer’s buying experience. The customer-rep relationship is what defines the sale.
5. Inbound Selling
Inbound sales are all about appealing to buyers with relevant content and not advertising irrelevant messages. This approach aims to attract buyers and hopefully make them buy.
Sales teams must remember that buyers have many options in today’s market.
The inbound approach was born from the belief:
- Buyers now have the ability to find information online about any company’s products and services, before speaking with salespeople.
- Buyers are now better at blocking cold and interruptive sales tactics (cold phone calls and irrelevant emails, for instance).
- Buyers have high expectations about the buying experience. They can direct the process and control the experience.
These shifting buying trends show how buyers are taking control of sales from the reps who used to have all the power.
With these changes in mind, it’s important for sales teams to adopt a more helpful, human approach to selling — or .
Common sales process mistakes
Let’s examine some of the common mistakes when creating sales processes. Avoiding these mistakes will allow you to create a successful sales process that is both for your team and for your customers.
1. Steps to Leave Sales Process Open for Interpretation
It’s essential to define specific, concrete actions that move your business’s prospects from one stage to the next. Your sales team may not be able to identify the triggers and have a poor understanding of prospects. This can lead to them mishandling part of this process.
Once you have established your sales process, write it down, share it, and then practice it with the team. You can use role-playing exercises to help you and your team understand the key points.
2. Expecting the One Sales Methodology to be the “Silver Bullet”
Some teams stick to one method closely while others prefer to study multiple sales methods and combine what they like from each.
Regardless of which approach you take, it’s a good idea to stay aware of what’s new and changing over time. Different approaches, methods, and ways to manage your sales process will be in and out of fashion as buyers’ needs and wants change.
It’s important to keep in mind that your entire sales process can change at any time.
3. You can’t forget that your sales process is always a work in progress
The sales process should never be perfected.
In addition to measuring your success consistently, it is important that you have regular check-ins and meetings with your reps. These check-ins are a great way to uncover any issues or red flags in your process.
You can make your job easier and your customers’ experiences more pleasant by constantly improving and developing your sales process.
4. It is not a good idea to align your sales processes with your sales efforts
Creating a sales process is futile if you don’t align your sales plays with the process. For future reference, it is important to write down the plays that each rep must perform at each step.
Here is where a sales strategy plays a key role. You might send up to three emails per prospect in the prospecting stage before you qualify them. Keep a list of these emails and make sure everyone on your team has access to them. The sales playbook can be created in either a PDF or software such as.
Your sales team will be more efficient and productive if you integrate your sales play with your sales process.
5. Marketing is out of the Loop
Marketing needs to know what’s happening in your sales organization — which prospects have been proven to close, which industries are less profitable, and which market segments have potential. Your marketing team should have this information in order to better support each step of the process.
For instance, they can provide better prospects and better lead nurturing materials — and when it’s time to continue nurturing the customer, they can even take that off your hands by creating drip campaigns on your behalf.
Marketing and sales alignment are critical to any organization, and that’s no different when creating a profitable sales process. You can arrange monthly meetings with marketing organizations or you could asynchronously keep aligned using an all in one solution, such as, which allows both sales and marketing tools to live in one place.
6. Closing Deals: The Process of Closing Deals
While sales are about closing deals, it’s always about providing value first and foremost — which will hopefully end in a closed deal down the line. Even if a prospect doesn’t seem like they want to purchase, you must keep providing value at every step of the process if their business needs can be solved by your product.
When your sales reps research the prospect’s business, they’re not just looking at company size and leadership boards. They’re looking for the problem that the prospect is experiencing so that they can deliver a pitch that makes it hard to pass on the solution.
Your process should be centered on creating value at every step, not just closing deals and meeting quotas.
7. It is easy to forget to measure KPIs
Ineffective sales processes can be caused by not tracking key sales metrics and failing to measure KPIs. Don’t forget to measure KPIs after creating or adjusting your sales process to understand what’s going well and what’s not.
While the focus shouldn’t be on numbers only, this will help you understand your success. The data can be analyzed further. You can then dig deeper into the data.
These KPIs can be tracked automatically by a. A CRM may also contain basic performance metrics that you can use to optimize your sales process.
To Grow Your Sales Process, Get Deeper into It
Your sales team will be able to close more sales and convert more leads by mapping out a sales process. This will also ensure your team provides every prospect with a consistent experience that’s representative of your brand. These steps will help you map out a sales process that is tailored to your company, customers, and sales team. This will allow you to increase conversions and create lasting relationships.