In the B2B landscape, things are constantly changing. What worked last year in your sales process may not be effective today. That means optimizing your sales process isn’t a one-time project. Instead, it’s something you need to update and maintain consistently. Even the latest process needs some tweaking once in a while. In today’s blog, we want to show you why and how to optimize your sales processes to keep up with the trends. The time has come to prioritize your sales cycle optimization.
Understanding the Sales Process
The average sales process is more of a guideline for reaching full sales potential than a strict schedule. It consists of a series of steps every salesperson needs to take and repeat consistently to move the prospect down the sales funnel. While each company may have its own efficient sales cycles, the most common ones include:
- Contact initiation
- Identifying prospect needs
- Availing offers
- Establishing KPIs
- Closing deals
Once you reach the bottom of the sales funnel and close deals, you repeat the process with new prospective clients or repeat clients. It all seems pretty straightforward. But the average B2B sales cycle can take 2 to 3 months or even longer before you close a deal. Several pitfalls stand in the way of sales reps completing the cycle faster. The biggest pitfall is a lack of sales optimization or a winning sales strategy.
How a Sales Process Sets Your Company Apart
One big difference between the best performing sales companies and those that are average is the sales strategy they use. Believe this: starting a company isn’t where the hardest work starts. If you have the passion, the drive, and some capital, you can get the ball rolling. The hardest work is figuring out how you’ll bring in profits, grow the company, and stay afloat even in uncertain times.
A survey by the Harvard Business Review shows that structured sales operations are the secret that most top-performing organizations use. Companies that improve their sales operations through strategies like investing in CRM tools continue to lead the rest of the pack. That begs the question: how do these companies optimize their sales processes to close more deals?
Well, even if you ask them, you wouldn’t get any valuable tips to take home—no one wants to share their trade secrets with a competitor. So, if you’re a member of a well-structured sales team, the sales manager, or even a data optimization specialist, this article is for you. Even if you don’t have any sales process currently in place, after reading this article, you’ll have the correct information to set one up.
Why Optimize Your Sales Process
There’s another saying: if you don’t know the importance of something, the most you’ll do is abuse it. So, before embracing optimization, let’s look at its significance and why you should follow it.
As we’ve already seen, the sales process consists of repeatable actions that sales teams need to execute to guide the prospect down the sales funnel and close a deal. You can view this as a roadmap to closing deals or a journey that salespeople need to take to turn prospects into happy repeat customers.
Once you’ve closed the deal, transforming the customer from a prospect to a valuable client, you can capture and retain their data and start the sales cycle all over again with other prospects. Here are some reasons why this process is important.
Increased Conversion Rates
If you don’t maintain a standard for your entire sales operation, your salespeople will go on with their daily duties however they see fit. And that’s a recipe for falling revenues in the long run. You need a carefully structured operation with a standardized framework to boost your revenue. This approach makes your team more knowledgeable and efficient in their duties and guides everyone in the right direction.
Higher Revenue Growth
Once your conversion rates are high, an increase in revenue is what you should look out for. Another Harvard Business Review article shows that B2B companies with standardized sales processes recorded an almost 30% revenue increase, unlike similar companies that do not optimize their sales operations or do not have an efficient sales roadmap altogether.
When you have structured sales operations and efficient CRM tools, building a resourceful and knowledgeable sales team becomes easier. Besides being aware of the ins and outs of the sales process, your team will be better positioned to work with high-level marketing tools and have a greater ability to target and nurture high-quality prospects. This will in turn boost your company’s overall revenue growth.
Reduced Sales Cycle
From prospecting to deal closing, the average sales cycle can take longer than expected. The sales cycle typically has a specific path that salespeople take to identify the ideal prospect. This path isn’t easy unless you follow a standardized sales process. This process can help your team understand how to reduce the sales cycle and ultimately save your company a lot of time and money.
Steps To Maximize Your Sales Processes
When you take a little more time to evaluate your sales operations, identify which process needs improvement, and use several proven strategies, you can optimize your sales process for long-term success.
If you’re already using some of the best CRM tools out there, you don’t need a lot of in-depth information on how to raise your sales operations a notch. Neither is such information necessary if you use sales data tracking and monitoring software. All you need is a few proven steps to improve production efficiency and conversion rates. The result, as you’d expect, is more revenue for your company. Some of these steps are listed below:
Define the Customer Journey
The key to selling your products or services to the most customers is knowing how they operate. Sit down with your team to discuss how your customers conduct their businesses and win clients. Who are their decision makers? How do they make purchases? When you can answer these questions, you’re in the right position to define specific parts of your overall sales process, allowing your reps to know what to expect with each prospect.
Building the ideal customer profiles is crucial because it helps you focus on the right prospect and forget the prospects that aren’t a good match. Otherwise, you’ll waste valuable time chasing dead leads. It’s more advisable to build long-lasting relationships with the ideal clients than pursue temporary quick wins.
If you’re unsure where to start, you can always refer to the client’s data. Technographic, intent, and firmographic data are helpful resources for building an accurate buyer persona that reflects real people.
Identify Possible Pipeline Bottlenecks in Your Sales Funnel
Do your leads constantly get stuck in the same stage of the sales funnel? Is something slowing your sales processes down? Do you have a lot of leads entering the funnel, but very few are reaching the end? Such pitfalls are considered pipeline bottlenecks.
The solution to these challenges is a strategic lead nurturing campaign. Attracting new leads is useless if they get stuck somewhere down the funnel. You need to constantly nurture these leads so that when the time comes for them to make a purchase, they know where to go.
Prioritize Sales and Marketing Alignment
You may wonder how marketing process optimization fits into the sales process. Sales and marketing teams typically work to achieve the same goal: revenue growth. However, they tend to struggle when it comes to effective collaboration. The biggest challenge is that marketers do a lot to generate leads, but most of what they do is ignored by certain sales reps. And those same sales reps are never willing to spend extra time prospecting for leads.
This lack of cooperation and collaboration can derail the sales process. Sales and marketing teams need to work together to achieve quarterly goals, define leads, and track the overall KPIs. When these two teams collaborate, you’ll quickly notice how high productivity and revenue will soar.
Use the Data in Your CRM
If you have an existing CRM, you have a treasure trove of valuable data you can use to close any loopholes in your sales funnel and unearth new opportunities. You need to look beyond the surface of the deals you’ve closed and the number of prospects down the funnel and focus on untapped potential.
It’s much better to look at your KPIs and evaluate the data that’ll help you identify what’s working and what’s not, then segment them accordingly. Key performance indexes like conversion rates, time, and volume in the sales process can be further divided into things like lead source, type of industry, and location.
From there, you can discover which lead sources will result in closing bigger deals, which industries take longer in the sales funnel, which leads are constantly dropping off, and so forth. You can use the sales data stored in your CRM to identify and close any leaks in the sales process and capitalize on unexploited opportunities.
Using this data in your CRM also helps you discover pipeline bottlenecks in your sales funnel that keep draining your resources. When prospects stagnate at a specific stage of the sales funnel, there’s a high chance they’ll drop off, and you’ll lose them before they reach the closing stage. Use your KPI data to pinpoint stagnating prospects, then decide whether to nurture or drop them.
Automate the Process
Sales reps taking on more administrative duties is not uncommon. In most organizations, it’s just part of the job. Yet these daily tasks take up so much time that sales reps are sometimes forced to forgo other more important duties like prospecting and lead nurturing. What these teams lack is the efficient sales cycle management that can only be achieved with automation.
You need to make sure that most of your sales team’s time is spent on the actual selling work. This is best achieved with automation. Automating your sales processes is the first step to improve the sales process and should be at the top of your sales cycle optimization. There are many sales automation tools available that will allow your team to manage time-efficient workflows.
With these tools, you can automate communication with prospects and existing customers, track and maintain customer data, and more. Sales automation of day-to-day administrative duties saves more time, enabling your team to build profitable relationships with prospects instead of focusing on manual data entry.
The sales process is something that constantly needs to be reworked. A trial and error process can help you pick what works and leave behind what doesn’t. But the most important step in the entire process is measuring your progress and KPIs, because that’s where you’ll know what needs tweaking. You may believe you have a sales process that works just fine. And maybe you do. But B2B is an ever-changing world, and it never hurts to check in to see if you could introduce something better. Contact us for more information.