Whether you’re new to sales or been in the game a while, the term “sales process” or “sales cycle” is bound to come up a lot.
It can mean a lot of different things to different people – we all like our own way of doing things. However, when it comes to a successful sales process, winging it or doing it entirely your way isn’t going to cut it.
Let us take you through what every sales process should include; a 7 stage structure that will send your win rate shooting up. 🚀
What is a sales cycle?
A sales cycle is the process from prospecting through to closing a sale, including absolutely everything in between.
But you probably knew that bit already. The real question is…
Why is nailing your sales process important?
Nailing your sales process means more sales for you and your business. It’s as simple as that.
By working on your typical sales cycle, and molding it to fit each and every prospect with some expert sales messaging, you will sell more effectively (and smash that sales quota of yours). 🏆
7 stages of every sales process
We know, we know – no one likes routines to be forced on them, when it comes to an efficient sales cycle, it’s important to have some kind of structure.
An organized and cyclical approach could be what’s missing from your sales process, and could be the reason you’re losing prospects on the way. By having a clear process, which is documented, or – even better – included in your sales management tool, will make sure you and your team are working in a methodical way, giving your clients the best experience.
The best examples of a sales process are based on this 7 stage structure:
Not necessarily your favorite thing to do, but a very necessary thing to do. And to close that deal quicker, easier, or even at all, you’re going to want to make your sales prospecting as efficient as possible to make sure you’re targeting the right people.
Targeting the wrong people only means one thing: time wasted. 👎
Before you start prospecting, you need to have a good understanding of what your ideal customer profile is so you know what types of companies to go after. Then, it’s a matter of collecting the facts and the data that makes sure they meet your company’s specifications.
Not sure where to start? Here’s our guide on the three sales prospecting techniques (and how to crush that sales quota).
We’ve said it before, and we’ll no doubt say it again – research is essential in your sales cycle. Top sellers spend around 6 hours a week on average researching their prospect, and you want to be in that category, right?
With research, you can – once again – check that this is definitely a lead that is worth going after, but you can also seriously boost that sales pitch, too.
Discovering individual prospect’s’ pain points and reciting them back to them is one big hook in your sale. 🎣 It hits them hard, but in a way that they’ll listen to what your saying – if you’re providing them a solution. Simply put:
Step 1: Do your research. 🤓
Step 2: Hit ‘em where it hurts. 👊
Step 3: Become the answer to all their prayers. 🙏
A sales pitch or slight emotional rollercoaster? Either way, it works.
And to make your life simpler, Similarweb Sales Intelligence has everything you need to know about a prospect in one place. With Account Review you can get insight into your prospect’s website performance (and where they may be going wrong), as well as get industry and competitor insights to show them what they’re up against.
This is where that research can be put to good – in fact, great – use.
Personalize 👏 that 👏 outreach.
Whether making a call, writing an email, or putting together a sales follow-up email, having stats and facts (that they actually care about) on hand is a guaranteed eye-opener for whoever you are reaching out to. In fact, even just personalizing your email subject line leads to a 22% increase in open rate.
Sending over personalized proposals that provide a solution for a problem that’s specific to them will flick the switch from generic sales email – which, by the way, you know their inbox will be full of – to effective sales messaging that makes an impact.
When you create custom content for each prospect, you will benefit from a bunch of things, including:
- Increasing customer engagement
- Building brand loyalty
- Boosting customer satisfaction
- Making yourself memorable
All benefits that you and your team can be proud of, right?
4) Lead nurture
With your outreach and your sales pitch revolving around the fact that your prospect has a problem and you’re the solution, take this as your superhero moment. 🦸
But to get this right, you need to make sure your point is made as clear, concise, and relevant as possible.
They don’t need a wordy sales pitch offering every single benefit of buying your product – all your prospect wants to know is how to help them grow their business. Sure, throw in your other features which are nice-to-haves, but focus on what will change the way they work (for the better, obviously).
To go even further, use your experience in the industry or with similar clients to provide even more consultative solutions. Go beyond your product, and you will make yourself – and the company you work for – indispensable.
Less of the “sell, sell, sell” approach, and more help, help, help. The more you make it about them and build up that rapport with consultative selling, the easier that close (and – if you deliver – retention) will be.
5) Handling objections
Okay, so closing a sale isn’t always as easy as shooting off a flawless sales pitch and waiting for the prospect to sign. There may – or probably will – be some kind of objections, or negotiations around things like:
- Price and budget
- Current providers and competitors
- Lack of trust
Our main trick? The LAER framework: Listen, acknowledge, explore, respond. The more you make your sales pitch about your prospect and their needs, the harder it is to object. So, be ready for objections or negotiations. With the right preparation, you can respond confidently in good time, because after all, if it comes across like you don’t believe in the product you’re selling, why should they believe in it?
If you’re looking for the most common sales objections and how to handle them, boy – have we got the post for you, with more about the LAER framework and some hot tips from sales professionals.
6) Closing that sale
So we might be making this one seem a lot more simple than it is. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as reaching out, giving a killer sales pitch, overcoming any objections the prospect has, and signing it all off.
Every prospect will be different, and as a result, so will your sales pitches and sales cycles. That means we can’t offer you a single magic recipe on how to close every single deal you have. But what we can do, is send you in the direction of the main 6 sales closing techniques to help improve your close rate.
7) Sales follow-up
Closing that sale isn’t the end of it – delivery of what you’ve promised and customer retention are key to a truly successful sale. Customers that are quick to churn can make your sales prospecting look flawed, or worse: make your sales pitch look untrustworthy.
Make sure you’re delivering and that your customers are getting the most of your product with sales follow-ups. Consider this a continuation of your consultative sales technique, and be available to your customers as much as you can.
How to improve your sales process
Already got a worthy sales process in the bag? Well, here are some steps to improve it – heck, perfect it.
1) Take a step back
First up, we suggest you take a step back to really look at your current processes. Figure out the vague structure you’re using, dividing it up into sections for how you make each sale – similar to how we did above.
Flag and reassess any gray areas or areas where structure is lacking. Like we’ve said before, your sales cycle will change per prospect, but having a general idea of what comes next will help you to figure out where certain prospects will need more work, making your sales process flow better (whatever obstacles may come your way).
For example, if you find the majority of your prospects move through the sales funnel quicker when you send sales follow-up emails within 10 minutes of your outreach call, make that an essential part of your sales process.
2) Measure your performance
By splitting up your sales process into the different steps, you can see just how effective your process really is with relevant KPIs and metrics in place. You can track your performance and work out where you could be doing better.
Not sure where to start? Here are some of the most common sales metrics and KPIs that you should be implementing. And for those of you that are working on ABM campaigns specifically, we’ve got the key ABM metrics you need to be tracking, too. Magic.
3) Forecast your sales
With sales forecasting, you are not only helping with planning and pipeline, but you’re probably adding a bit of motivation to you and the rest of your sales team to reach that target, too. And you can never complain about motivation as a salesperson, can you?
Combine how you’ve mapped out your sales process with the metrics we spoke about above to come up with a reasonable idea of what your sales could look like in the near future – and how to improve those numbers.
Look at your conversion rate at every step of the process, for example. This will give you an idea of where to focus, whether that’s the sales cycle itself or perhaps how you can hook in specific clients or industries. 🎣
4) Know the best tools to use
You don’t have to do it alone – there are a bunch of great tools out there that can make your sales process that little bit smoother, quicker and easier.
There are different categories of sales tools and platforms, including:
- CRM software
- Sales acceleration
- Sales analytics
- Sales productivity
- Marketing automation
- Account-based marketing (ABM)
- Sales intelligence
Streamline your sales cycle with Similarweb
Now, we might be biased but Similarweb Sales Intelligence is the winning tool for salespeople like you. Why’s that? Because it has a number of features to help you sell smarter – and bigger.
You’re interested now, aren’t you? Similarweb can help you streamline your sales cycle and sell more efficiently with features, including:
- Lead Generator: Search our database of over 100 million companies to create a list of your ideal prospects.
- Contact details: Find key decision-makers at the companies you’re after, and download them into Excel, or straight into your Salesforce or HubSpot CRM.
- Insights Generator: Boost your outreach emails with relevant (and extra engaging) data and insights for your prospects.
- Account review: Gain full insight into each account on your radar, including website performance and technologies they use.
- Sales Signals: Identify cross-sell and upsell opportunities, and potentially reduce churn as a result with account alerts.
- And more…
Want to find out more? Book a demo today.
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