Building a Scalable Sales Process

Learn to create a sales process for your team to convert a lead to a customer.

At any stage of your business, whether you’re just starting or you run a fully established organization, the success of your business is highly dependent on the success of your sales team.

After all, new business is what keeps the engine running.

A robust sales process can be a key driver in helping you to achieve your business’ sales and revenue goals.

What is a sales process? 

A sales process refers to the journey a customer goes through when making a purchase. This is not to be confused with a marketing funnel, which can be simplified as getting the attention of a potential buyer and converting them to a lead.

Sales is the process of converting that lead into revenue.

Sometimes this can all happen quickly, like an eCommerce store. For B2B, it’s usually a longer process with more steps. For this article, we will be examining how to create a funnel to convert leads to customers.

To grow a sustainable business, you must develop a robust, scalable sales process.

In working with hundreds of entrepreneurs, we’ve found the first step in developing a successful sales process is by mapping out your desired process, measuring results, and making small tweaks along the way.

We have pulled our resources together to create a guide that you can use to build a scalable sales funnel for your business. In this post, we will talk about how to establish a foundation, map your process, optimize your funnel, and make it repeatable. We’ll also share a few key takeaways, including:

  • How to document your current process by analyzing your customer journey
  • How to build out a new sales funnel unique to your business needs
  • A practical method and easy to use tool to help you measure your success at each stage of your sales process

With these resources, you’ll have the tools you need to build a repeatable and scalable process that you can train throughout your organization.

Document Your Current Process

The first step to establishing a sales process is to document the process already in place. Outlining your existing process will help you to identify everything you have on the table. It’s a window into what’s working well and what can improve.

To help you define your current sales process, you will want to look at your buying process.

Buying Process

The buying process is another way of saying the steps taken to make a purchase. This process can differ from business to business. For example, if you have direct sale items, the buying process is relatively straightforward, but if, for example, you sell real estate, the process from start to finish will be much longer.

Think about the stages the buyer will go through as they decide if they want to buy from your company. Typically, the buying process requires a lot of thought and actions behind the scenes before a decision is made to make a purchase. With the exception of impulse buys, consumers generally do their research before deciding to buy. The more a buyer knows about your product or service before they enter the purchasing phase, the more likely they are to buy from you.

Take time to run through a typical scenario from start to finish. Put yourself in the shoes of a potential buyer and identify the steps you would take from first recognizing you have a problem through the purchase process.

By putting yourself in their shoes, it’s easier to think of the stages and how to present the information to help the customer move forward in your funnel toward the purchase.

By understanding the elements of your current process, you can start building your funnel.

Building your Sales Process

The most common stages in a sales process are lead, qualify, initial meeting, proposal, close sale.

As you continue to think about your current process, you can start to define your new process. It’s important to keep your customer’s mindset front and center as you think about each stage and the information they need to convert to the next step. While each organization and industry will have its own process, these are the common stages: lead, qualify, initial meeting, proposal, close sale.

1. Lead

In any business, the first step of your sales process will be sourcing new, early-stage leads to begin working through the sales process. It’s a vital part of the sales process and depending on where you are in your entrepreneurial journey, it will likely be part of the daily or weekly workflow in your business.

Prospecting, or sourcing new leads, might involve online research using sites like LinkedIn, attending conferences or networking events, or by creating a lead generator. It’s important to know where your leads are coming from and understand their knowledge of you and your company. When someone transitions into your sales funnel as a lead, they hopefully have enough information about your company to be in a buyer’s mindset.

A few examples of good leads include:

  • Referrals – Anyone who was recommended to you by existing customers
  • Networks – Anyone who you’ve connected with personally at industry events or online via social networking
  • Website Visitors – Anyone who has shown interest in your offerings by accessing your website, filling out a form or leaving contact information
2.  Qualifying Leads

Next, you will want to qualify your lead to see if they are a good fit for your product or service. The qualification step generally involves Initiating contact with those early-stage leads to gather information to decide whether or not they are likely to move forward in the buyer’s journey.

During this stage, you or a sales rep will contact the lead through email or a call. This step will

allow you to exchange information to separate them from the lead pool. 

Qualifying questions might include:

  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • Why is this a priority for you?
  • What other solutions are you evaluating?
  • What is your budget?

This step acts as a filter; many leads will not convert to the next step. If you determine the person is qualified based on your criteria, they would then move forward in the process.

3.  Meeting 

After gathering information about the prospect during the qualification phase, there is typically a formal meeting. The meeting allows you to develop your business relationship and explain ways your product or service will meet client needs. 

Depending on your business, you can include a presentation or demonstration of your product or service. This meeting should be tailored and personalized to meet the needs of your prospect. This meeting is where you will ask probing questions, identify pain points, uncover objections, and match benefits.

Typically, this is the most time-consuming step of your process, so you want to reserve it for more serious prospects — which is why the qualification step is so critical. 

4.  Proposal

The proposal will depend on your business. Some will be based on standard rates and prices, while others will require more research to develop. Some companies may even skip this step and move right into the sale.

During this step, it is essential to stay active. Once a proposal is submitted, you must follow up with the prospect. Ideally, you will establish the next steps during the first meeting to keep the momentum going.

A proposal is not equal to a sale; you must be available to work with your prospect to answer questions or make adjustments. The proposal must include a timeline, with the details based on earlier discussions. 

Only when the proposal is accepted does the prospect move to the final stage of the process.

5.  Close

The final stage in the sales process is closing. The sale is not complete until it is closed. It may be necessary for you to negotiate with the customer to officially close. Closing occurs when the contract or order is signed and the sale implemented. It is important to guide customers through the closing process carefully; just because someone accepted a proposal does not mean the sale is firm. Additionally, it is important to close quickly. The more time that you give customers to consider their purchases, the more likely they are to think of reasons to avoid the purchase.

Remember, this flow is just an example. Use it as a framework in which to break down your process into measurable steps. Try to break it down or consolidate as needed to create a handful of measurable steps. Moving a lead through each step will help you slow down and learn to sell to the next step, increasing your momentum through your sales process. 

Tracking Your Sales Process

The only way to know whether or not your process is working is by tracking your activity. Tracking and assessing results will help you determine how to alter your process to convert more leads into sales. It will provide valuable insight on how to fill the funnel’s front end to get the desired outcomes at the end of the funnel.

Later in this section, we’ll provide you with a tool designed to help you take all of this information and use it to increase your sales.

Here are three things you should be tracking:

Marketing Channels

It’s important to track how you are sourcing your customers. To be scalable, you should have multiple channels to attract leads, but you need to assess how each source performs and make adjustments as needed. You will want to look at a few things; traffic, the number of leads generated, and conversion rates. How you interpret your data will depend on your current goals. i.e., do you want to attract more leads at this point, or are you looking for higher conversion rates? 

Not all marketing channels are created equal. Some will have the capacity to bring you hundreds or thousands of leads, whereas others might only yield a handful of leads.

You will want to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What channels are providing the highest number of leads?
  • Where am I spending my time? 
  • Where should I spend my time?
  • Where am I spending my money? 
  • How much does it cost for each lead?
  • Which leads convert the best? Which doesn’t? 
  • How much time and money are we spending on each?

Understanding what those channels are and how well they convert will help you to identify where you should focus your sales effort for the most significant impact.

Lead Data

Regardless of if you use a CRM or if you’re working off of a spreadsheet, you should always have a place to record information about your prospects. The information recorded should be extensive, and you should continue gathering information with every interaction.

Here is a list of some information to record:

  • The source of the lead (referral, networking event, etc.)
  • Customer needs
  • Objection to sales
  • Demographic information
  • Conversion from lead to sale

This is not a comprehensive list. Your business will dictate what you need to record. Keep this information even if there is no conversion as it can help you, later on, to qualify your leads better.

ROI

As with every other project that your company undertakes, you need to keep track of your Return On Investment (ROI). When it comes to assessing the ROI of your sales funnel, you want to look at the time and money spent on your sales process compared to the return on investment.

Sales Metric and Conversion Tracker tool stage timeline
The sales metric conversion tracker will help you ensure you’re getting the right ROI

To help you measure your conversion at each step in your sales process, check out our Sales Metric and Conversion Tracker

One of the most common changes for small businesses is the inconsistency of sales. Building a process is only the first step. Next is tracking your process and then forecasting into the future. 

The Sales Metric and Conversion Tracker, is designed to help you and your sales team learn how to forecast the coming months of revenue, identify which lead tactics are converting, and find the levers that will help you increase conversion and revenue.

The tool is broken into three parts: a macro view of your sales forecast, a monthly tracker, and a weekly tracker.

Sales Metric and Conversion Tracker tool 3 year forecast
  1. Macro Plan
    The macro view of your sales forecast is exactly as it sounds: A macro view. It looks at your sales over 3 years, allowing you to break down the number of sales you need to hit your revenue goals. It also helps you break down how many leads you need in each stage of your sales process (lead, qualify, initial meeting, proposal, close sale) each month to hit that goal based on your average conversions.
  2. Monthly Tracker
    The monthly tracker allows you to compare your results with your predictions while allowing you to readjust your monthly goals to hit to stay on track with your annual revenue goals.
  3. Weekly Tracker
    The third and final portion is a weekly tracker that will guide you to better understand the time needed to hit the established goals. 

Thinking about the key role timing plays in your sales process, (i.e., how long it takes someone to move from a lead to a customer) will help you better understand how to fill up your funnel. This timing will vary depending on your business. Some sales funnels move quickly, while others can take days or weeks to complete.

Using the sales forecast, you can learn to set expectations for yourself and your team and create a baseline from which you can begin to optimize over time.

Optimizing your Sales Process

Once your process is in place, how do you get better and more efficient at moving leads through your funnel? Repetition, measurement, adjustments, and automation. 

Focus on incrementally improving each step in your process. It’s likely your sales process will evolve as your team finds ways to work more efficiently and move prospects through your pipeline faster.

As you start to move leads through each stage of your funnel, it’s important to track your progress. Measuring your success is vital to ensuring you have a scalable sales process. As you become more comfortable in your new sales process, you will want to test different approaches and tweak your funnel over time using these measurements to improve your efficiency. The conversion rates at each stage of the funnel should be a primary focus.

If you’re struggling to get people INTO your Sales Process, you will want to focus on your marketing efforts and look at the channels that are working or not working.

This would be a good time to circle back to those questions from above:

  • What channels are providing the highest number of leads?
  • Where am I spending my time? 
  • Where should I spend my time?
  • Where am I spending my money? 
  • How much does it cost for each lead?
  • Which leads convert the best? Which doesn’t? 
  • How much time and money are we spending on each?

Would a shift in marketing help you bring in more qualified leads? If so, how can you implement that shift?

On the other hand, perhaps you see a drop from one stage of your funnel to another. As you get into selling, you want to continue to focus on your skill at each stage to improve the conversion rate.

Ask yourself:

  • Am I probing for needs?
  • Am I validating?
  • Am I matching features & benefits? 
  • Am I trial closing?

Making incremental changes and improvements in your sales skills can increase your conversion rate in the individual steps of your process.

You will want to keep an eye on the conversions and make minor adjustments based on experience, results, and even feedback from prospects as they move through the funnel. Monthly focal points can be a good start. How many leads convert at each stage in a given month?

The sales metric conversion tool has a yearly, monthly, and weekly tracker to track conversion over time.

Using this tool will help you understand if you see the same results again and again, ensuring that your process is repeatable.

Creating a Scalable Process

What makes a sales process scalable?

Your process is scalable, once it is repeatable. The process should work the same, whether you have 10, 1,000, or 10,000 customers. The volume of leads can be managed in the same way once you reach this level of refinement.

Remember, your sales process will never be complete or perfect; it will always be a work in progress.

So, in addition to consistently measuring your success with the tracking systems listed above, you should also have regularly scheduled check-ins with your sales team. Your sales team is on the front lines; they’re working through your sales process every day and communicating with prospects. They will be the first to uncover any major issues or red flags regarding your process.

Dive Into Your Sales Process

Creating and mapping a sales process will help your sales team close more deals and convert more leads. It will also ensure your team provides every prospect with the same type of consistent experience, representative of your brand.

Follow these steps to create and map a sales process tailored to your business, sales team, and customers to begin boosting conversions and building lasting relationships.

You don’t need to be a sales expert to have a successful sales funnel for your business. Having a better understanding of your process can help you increase revenue and build a strong foundation for your business. If sales aren’t your strong suit, and you don’t know where to start, you don’t have to go at it alone. Schedule a free two-hour session to dig into your business and develop a plan.

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