Whether you’re managing an early-stage startup or running a sales department for a larger company, a strong sales process is essential for your growth and financial stability. All too often, however, sales processes can get bogged down in inefficiencies that keep you from closing sales and growing your business.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to stay this way. By incorporating proven tips for improving and accelerating your sales process, you can ensure that 2023 — and future years — see your sales process become far more successful.
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1. Make sales your top priority
As an executive leader, there are seemingly countless activities vying for your attention. And with only so many hours in the day, it can be easy to convince yourself that other tasks take priority over sales and marketing.
But when it comes to maximizing the productivity of your business, you must prioritize sales. If you aren’t constantly working to acquire customers, it doesn’t matter how great your service is. Sales and marketing efforts — whether that be through the more drawn-out B2B sales process that involves pitch meetings and phone calls, or social media marketing for a B2C service — are how you get customers in the first place.
If nothing else, set aside part of each day for reviewing your company’s sales and marketing operations. Schedule this out on the calendar if necessary. Simply adjusting your mindset is key for everything else to fall into place.
2. Standardize your process
The time you devote to sales and marketing will be much more effective if you have standardized processes in place. Just like a lawn care business would have established processes and practices for how it cares for customers’ yards, you will also need an established process for acquiring leads, qualifying them and converting them to paying customers.
This could include determining which factors make a member of your target audience a “qualified prospect” that will get more of your sales focus, listing out the questions you would ask during a sales meeting to understand a prospect’s needs, and so on.
Defining your sales process “playbook” should also include aspects such as standardizing your quoting process for the services you offer, fine-tuning how you communicate the benefits of your service and even crafting email templates. Essentially, the idea is to build a guide that you can follow each time you engage with a prospect so you can stay focused.
3. Shorten your sales cycle
In a post for the DealHub blog, Nicole Epstein explains, “Take the time to analyze what tasks you are asking your salespeople to perform – from prospecting to quoting; from training to reporting – and what solutions you have in place for supporting this work. Any investment in a technology or process that streamlines these activities will immediately increase the time they can spend on the value-added tasks that close business.”
There are many processes you can automate, including several sales tasks. Regardless of the size of your sales team, automating repeatable or redundant tasks will give you more time to focus on higher-level activities.
Automation can eliminate human error and streamline your work so you can shorten the sales cycle. When this occurs, you can close more deals faster, or simply have more time to devote to high-value prospects. Either way, you position yourself for stronger growth.
4. Don’t let anyone slip through the cracks
It can be surprisingly easy for a promising prospect to slip through the cracks and be forgotten. Whether it’s because they didn’t seem as high of a priority as another prospect or you got swamped with another non-sales responsibility, failing to follow up with leads can easily lead to lost sales.
CRM tools can play a vital role in keeping track of every qualified prospect. By helping you record and track information such as when you last contacted a prospect and where they are in a sales funnel, you can give each prospect the appropriate level of attention.
This can help you with everything from sending out a quote on time to simply providing a follow-up email to gauge a prospect’s interest in your services. Consistent follow-up — especially during the timeframe that you previously told prospects — will help you earn their trust and close sales.
5. Crunch the numbers
The best way to know if your sales process is working is to look at the numbers. Thanks to CRM tools and other resources, it’s never been easier to understand key data points that contribute to sales successes and failures.
Research has found the most successful companies base 60% or more of their decisions on data, while “laggards” or underperformers base 70% of their decisions on gut feeling. By looking at the numbers behind your sales process, you can identify how factors such as frequency of communication or the source of the lead are affecting your sales process.
For example, if you found that your leads are more likely to convert if you send a follow-up email once per week, then that should certainly guide your sales process moving forward. Or even better, if you’re selling with ABM-style microsites or digital “deal rooms,” you can follow up based on engagement signals. With data, you can make these decisions with confidence.
Turn your sales process into a strength
For many entrepreneurs, taking the sales process head-on can be intimidating. But regardless of whether you’re going at it alone or you’ve built a team to help you out, your business isn’t going to survive without sales. By making it the priority it deserves to be and actively working to improve your processes, you can lay a strong foundation for success in 2023.