How to map your business sales process
Have you got a written sales process and sales strategy? If you answered 'no' then you need to read this guide from an expert sales coach to get started...
Sales are crucial to the success of a start-up business but a growing need to bring money into your business can create a spiralling sense of panic.
If you've set high sales targets for your start-up, you’ll find that it can get progressively harder to take a step back and clearly consider what you’re doing. It’s a bit like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube while balanced on a ledge.
However, mapping out your sales process can provide perspective.
Creating a sales map and then continually reviewing this map will help you consider your goals, opportunities and each individual point of your sales process. It will also help you to understand how to best serve your prospects throughout the process.
Why you need a sales map for your business
If you want to know how to get to your destination as efficiently as possible, then a map is always useful. Mapping out your sales process is more straightforward than most people think.
To ensure your map is practicable, your most important resource is your team, and each individual insight into the prospect-customer journey. By ‘team’, I mean everyone involved in prospecting, marketing, sales, account management and customer support. The broader the insight you capture, the more consensual the map.
Understanding sales as a process is critical. You need process to help each prospect understand your vision and mission, your expertise, the results you achieve and how you will help them to solve their problems. It’s all part of a process.
Spending valuable time educating, meeting and trying to sell to the wrong prospects is a damaging behaviour and can sabotage sales sabotaging. Wasting time, effort and sales energy merely distorts the sales process as you try to hammer a ‘round peg into a square hole’.
Instead, be clear about whom you can help, be as specific as possible, and then focus your sales conversations, and efforts on that prospective customer or client.
How to create your sales map
You can learn so much about a company from mapping; its skills, strengths, experience and the service it offers.
If you are starting from scratch, it’s easiest to begin to create a sales map based on a recent sale. Start by looking at the contact steps between you and that prospective-customer (these will vary depending on what your business does):
- Where did they first hear or find out about you?
- What was the first contact?
- When or how did you share information with them?
- How many times did you follow up with them?
- In what format did you follow up with them?
- What questions or objections did they have?
- How were objections addressed? [You may also want to read 8 steps to overcoming sales objections here]
- Did you have to present to a client or pitch for custom?
- What stakeholders were involved in the sale?
- What process was required to secure budget sign-off?
Documenting each step of these interactions – including questions, challenges, meetings, information exchanges, documents, contracts, disagreements and agreements – is a great way to start mapping your sales process.
To map your business' sales you need to:
- Create a written sales process.
- Make the sales process a step-by-step guide, with each step requiring specific goals to get to the next step.
- Track your sales through the sales process, ensuring it reflects ‘the real world’.
- Revisit your sales map frequently. Are there steps where sales bottleneck, slow down or are lost? Keep asking yourself; what is the simplest path to purchase?
- Share this process with your team.
- Walk the line between your company vision and detail. Ensure that your sales map connects to ‘why’ your company exists, while also including sufficient detail to be useful during sales.
- Pinpoint handovers and make them as specific as possible.
- Set goals for each stage.
- Factor in metrics and KPIs at key stages, such as:
- Qualification metrics
- Lead conversion to opportunity
- Handover from marketing to sales
- Close rate
- Think like your prospects; how does the process look from their perspective?
- Ask new customers what their buying experience was like. Is there anything they would change?
- Use a different company’s sales process; map out your own.
- Make your sales process so detailed that it becomes inflexible.
- Over-define ‘how’ things should be done to get to stage goals. Creativity and lateral-thinking can be strong differentiators in sales, and your team should be able to contribute.
- Create ‘sales silos’ where departments or individuals are working alone.
- Think that all steps of the sales process are equal; some stages will prove more important than others.
- Keep your map within your sales team; the process impacts all prospect and customer-facing departments and individuals.
It’s important to understand the step-by-step sales experience for your prospective customers/clients so that you can deliver maximum value and provide the best buying experience that will result in a win-win.
The most effective way to achieve this is to capture it in a flow chart that maps it out, and which your team will refer to and use to help your prospects make the best decisions for themselves and your business.
Hazel Butters is a sales coach, speaker, coder and founder of Prompt Inc. She advises entrepreneurs on how best to structure their sales process to bring in consistent revenue, target relevant prospects, and get comfortable asking for the sale.
Once you've mapped out your sales process, read this guide on the top 10 ways to generate repeat business.