No matter where you’re going, you need a map in order to reach your destination.
Sales are no different, meaning that it’s essential to map out your sales process and always know what your next step should be.
This procedure will pave the way for success – it will help you attract your leads and direct them towards closing a deal without going astray somewhere along the customer journey.
While some salespeople rely on their gut feeling and seizing the opportunity when it shows up, closing a deal is rarely accidental.
A lot of planning and effort precedes that final step.
So, if you want to leave luck out of the equation and be sure that your sales process will result in a positive outcome, here’s what you have to do.
- What Is a Sales Process?
- Why Do You Need Sales Process Mapping?
- How to Map Your Sales Process?
- What Mistakes Should You Avoid?
- Closing words
What Is a Sales Process?
Before we start discussing sales process mapping, it’s important to establish what a sales process is (and what it isn’t.)
A sales process is a number of predefined and repeatable steps that, if carried out, will lead to a certain, predictable outcome. In other words, if you follow all the steps, you can expect that the results will be the same or similar as the previous time.
The trick is in process standardization.
It’s essential to identify every step and understand how to repeat it.
However, a sales process isn’t the same as a sales methodology. Therefore, these two terms cannot be used interchangeably, despite the fact that they do overlap to a certain extent.
A sales methodology, on the other hand, is the way you sell and how you do it.
However, the main difference between a sales process and a sales methodology lies in the fact that a sales process has to be unique for every organization, while different companies can use the same methodology and be successful.
Why Do You Need Sales Process Mapping?
Sales process mapping is not just a theoretical exercise; it is a practical tool that can drive your sales team towards success.
Having a sales process mapped out and implemented will help you and your team move your prospects through the sales funnel quickly and effectively.
With a well-defined and adaptable sales process, you can achieve consistency, efficiency, and improved customer relationships, ensuring that your organization stays on track to achieve its sales goals and objectives.
- Consistency and Predictability. One of the biggest benefits of sales process mapping is that It brings some much-needed consistency and predictability to your sales efforts. By laying out and standardizing the steps that lead to successful sales, you’re basically giving your team a clear path to closing deals. When you’ve got a well-defined sales process, you can measure performance, spot bottlenecks, and make data-driven improvements.
- Efficiency and Time Savings. Without a mapped-out sales process, your sales reps might end up wasting precious time on unproductive activities or chasing the wrong prospects. But with a clear roadmap, they can be more efficient in how they allocate their time, focusing on the most promising leads and opportunities. That means shorter sales cycles and a sales team firing on all cylinders.
- Better Sales Forecasting. When you’re mapping the process, you’re also collecting valuable data that helps you make more accurate predictions about future sales performance. Leave behind the guesswork and embrace realistic sales targets and intelligent strategies.
- Improved Customer Experience. It’s not just about pushing leads to sign on the dotted line. Sales process mapping is also about giving your potential customers a top-notch experience. When you’ve got a well-structured process, every customer gets the attention and info they need at each stage of their journey. It’s like personalization on steroids, allowing your team to understand their needs and pain points, building stronger relationships along the way.
- Effective Training and Onboarding. Having a documented sales process makes training new reps a breeze. They can follow the proven steps, learn from successful interactions, and fine-tune their skills. That way, your team is all on the same page, working together like a well-oiled machine.
How to Map Your Sales Process?
I’ve already mentioned the uniqueness of your sales process, and it’s important to bear in mind that it depends on your industry, your company, and your customers.
Set Your Goal
When mapping your sales process, you need to start at the end and think about what exactly you want to achieve.
This, for example, can be increasing sales by a certain percentage, growing your customer base, reducing customer churn, generating more leads, or increasing your profit margin.
If you’re wondering why we’re going backward, the answer is very straightforward – your sales process map is like a GPS system, which means that you first need to add your final destination before you create your path.
Why is it so important?
Mapping your sales process will help you always stay on course. It provides a bird’s-eye view so that every member of your team knows how their efforts tie into the ultimate goal.
It helps keep your sales team motivated to move forward.
Having a clear goal to reach and mapping out every step that needs to be taken gives your sales team an objective to focus on but also provides them with a roadmap to help them efficiently get to the finish line.
Include All Those Who Are Involved
And that doesn’t mean that it concerns only the sales team.
Although the sales department is at the forefront of the process, other teams also participate in reaching the goal, and that is, in this case, closing a deal.
Remember that your marketing team, customer support, IT department, to name just a couple, play an important role in attracting potential customers, nurturing them throughout their buyer’s journey, and bringing them closer to making a sales decision.
In other words, all of them are stakeholders who contribute to achieving your shared goal, which is why they should be included in mapping your sales process. Ask them what they think and encourage them to share their opinion because they can offer some pretty valuable advice based on their experience.
Why is it so important?
Not only can different stakeholders offer valuable insights and fresh perspectives, but they also often actively participate in achieving set goals.
And when you’re dealing with many stakeholders, you need to clearly define who’s in charge of what if you want to meet your targets efficiently.
Mapping out your sales process will help you easily identify what needs to be done and taking all stakeholders into consideration will help you evenly distribute roles, so every step gets covered, and no team member gets overloaded with work.
Define Your Sales Process Steps
At this point, it’s essential to get everybody to put together a list of steps they take throughout the sales process. All members of your sales, marketing, and other departments should analyze how they get their part of the job regarding pushing a prospect down the funnel.
They should know by now which particular steps are effective and efficient.
In order to do so, it requires all your teams to look into the previous sales that were successfully closed.
It’s very likely that some of these steps differ from the typical ones, so it’s crucial to inspect and examine these deviations in order to establish why they occurred and why they were successful. Also, if there were some roadblocks along the way, you should pinpoint how they were solved.
Also, by analyzing the time between each of the steps, you’ll be able to understand what exactly accelerates the process. To gain a better insight into this matter, compare a regular sale with faster ones, and pinpoint the common factors that faster sales share. This will allow you to figure out why they worked.
Why is it so important?
Representing your sales process steps in a visual map offers a clear path to move prospects forward in the sales process. This map makes it easier to see if there are any roadblocks along the way and what might be causing them.
It provides a bigger picture and allows you to zoom out and see how far your leads are from converting. That way, you can identify mistakes preventing you from closing deals and focus your attention on leads that need more work.
No matter what the bottlenecks are and what’s causing them, a visual map will always help define issues much clearer than a simple list of steps.
Connect These Steps With Buyer Journey Stages
In order for these steps to make sense, you need to align them with the stages of the buyer journey.
On one side, there are the awareness, consideration, and decision stages, while on the other, we have prospecting, connecting, researching, presenting, and closing steps.
You can do this by creating your buyer personas and understanding who exactly they are and what makes them tick. Make sure to analyze what they need and do during every stage of their buyer journey.
However, the most important thing is identifying the triggers that move them from one stage to another. Your historical data will help you with this as it’s there that you can notice these compelling moments and particular details that made them take action.
Additionally, when considering the stages of the buyer journey, it’s crucial to integrate the invoicing and financial aspects seamlessly. Tools like Hiveage will help you with this.
Why is it so important?
By looking into your historical data, you’ll be able to spot the points of friction and obstacles that led to losing prospects.
Your sales reps might be pushing customers way too quickly to the next stage. This can not only be extremely damaging to the relationship but can often even break the deal.
That’s why it’s important to know when your prospects are ready to be moved to the next stage of the sales process – and connecting your sales process steps with buyer journey stages is crucial for this.
A customer-centric sales process map can help you turn a disorganized and pushy sale into a stellar customer experience.
Just make sure to always focus on your customer’s previous buying behaviors and expectations, and your sales process will always be perfectly timed.
Keep Track of Your Performance
After you’ve mapped the steps, it’s critical to see whether they’re working and what can be improved.
Decide what you want to measure, as that will tell you what KPIs and metrics you should focus on. In other words, it’s important to define success on your own terms.
Think about that goal from the beginning of this section and consider what “successful” would mean in the sense of generating new leads or what a “successful” conversion rate is.
Why is it so important?
Keeping track of performance indicators is crucial for every business process, and sales are no different. Monitoring your performance is the only way to see whether your sales process is successful or not.
Identifying what actions cause prospects to move forward in the sales process will help you clearly define what steps your sales team should take to close their future deals faster and which practices they should stop doing.
Distinguishing between effective and ineffective practices is crucial for improving your future sales efforts, and keeping track of key performance indicators is the only way to determine whether a strategy is working or not.
What Mistakes Should You Avoid?
Here’s a list of the most common mistakes to avoid when you’re mapping out your sales process with your team.
- Don’t make the steps too vague. Be specific so that all members of your team can understand what comes next.
- Don’t get carried away with the number of steps. While it’s OK to be specific, don’t get into the tiniest details. There should be only enough details to be clear enough.
- Don’t forget that your customers come first. It’s them you should follow and base your decisions on.
- Don’t take steps that aren’t actionable. Make sure that all the steps push you towards taking action and accomplishing something.
- Don’t try to squeeze your process into a map. Do the other way round and transform your process into a map. So, it’s not the process that you’d like to have, but the one that actually takes place in the real world.
Mapping out your sales process allows you to take a step back and see the bigger picture. It helps you figure out which of your current practices work and which don’t. It enables you to visualize every step of the sales process and see what can be improved. With clearly mapped out steps, you will eliminate a lot of guesswork and your sales team will always know what to do, which means they’ll be able to close more deals in less time.