4 Best Practices to Optimize your Sales Process
If something is broken, it means you can fix it.
But in the case of a sales process, you cannot wait around till it breaks. Your leads would go cold, and sales would shrivel. The stakes are too high. Instead, you analyze over time what works and what doesn’t. The pros of having a poorly structured sales process outweigh the cons of having no sales process at all. Companies that follow a formal sales process see a 28% higher revenue flow than companies that have no process in place. Why? Because when you have a process in place, your sales team has a better idea of how to guide leads across the buying journey to become a customer.
But sometimes, things go wrong. Your sales process might be the reason leads go cold, and opportunities are lost. This is because creating a sales process, implementing it and then ignoring it isn’t the right way. It is a dynamic task that needs to be scrutinized from time to time to understand if it works or not. Optimizing your sales process can improve your sales effectiveness and help your team close more deals. In fact, it is as important as creating one, if not more.
Here are 4 ways you can optimize and improve your current sales process:
1. Identify the leaks in your sales funnel
When all is well, the sales process works well and leads flow through it easily. But as your process starts to break, you see a decrease in sales activity. Ask any salesperson, and they’ll tell you their biggest enemy is a leaky sales funnel or a clogged sales pipeline.
A leaky bucket represents your website and the leads dripping out of it. If your sales funnel is leaky, you will lose leads through the cracks due to inefficiency in the sales process.
Here are 3 warning signs to help you identify the potential leak points:
- A high number of leads, low conversion into deals
- A high number of deals, low conversion into accounts won
- A high number of accounts won, low number of loyal customers
To repair the leak, you need to identify where the bucket is broken, and identify the stage at which your leads are exiting your sales process.
For one, if you have a high conversion of prospects into qualified leads, but not further, it might be because your prospecting efforts are not in the right direction. Revisit or recreate your buyer persona and target your prospects accordingly.
Second, if leads aren’t being successfully converted into customers, there might be a bigger story to it. The lead may already be using a competitor’s product. Or, they might raise objections when they are in the last stages of the sales process. Dig deeper into understanding why each deal was lost and what was the reason. Analyze if the loss could have been avoided if they were nurtured better. Understand the most common objections your team faces and train them on how to handle them effectively. If not, well, you win some and lose some.
Lastly, if customer churn is prevalent in your company, you need to understand what went wrong and where. Often customers churn due to poor support or because they do not understand the product well. Revisit churned customer account details and understand why the customer was dissatisfied. If needed, double down on your customer support efforts.
2. Unclog your bottlenecked pipeline
A sales bottleneck is frustrating solely because it is easily avoidable. But, the good news is it is also easily identifiable. Your sales pipeline has a bottleneck when leads do not move past a stage. The pipeline gets clogged and leads lay dormant within the pipeline, with no movement.
Unclogging a sales pipeline is a simple, 3-step process. The first part is, of course, acceptance that the pipeline is clogged. It means asking yourself, “At what stage are the leads getting stuck?”
Once you know the answer, you can decide the best way to unclog the pipeline.
You might have a lot of leads entering the sales funnel, but they may not all be getting qualified. Every lead you reach out to may not be willing to purchase the product right away. Structure lead nurturing campaigns to nurture these leads over time so that when they are ready to buy, they come right back to you.
In some cases, the SDR may also forget to follow-up with a warm lead, making them go cold. This is undesirable because the lead might have been your ideal customer. Analyze the team’s performance on calls and the effectiveness of the sales pitch. The key to a killer sales pitch is to diagnose the pain points that the lead is facing and offer the right solutions.
TIP: Reduce the load on SDRs by automating your emails with a CRM. This will ensure that no emails are ever lost.
3. Update your sales process to match your customers
As your team grows, you expand selling into different industries and territories. As you begin selling to newer industries, your sales process will have to adapt accordingly. The sales process followed for an SMB will be different from one followed for an enterprise company. The length of the sales cycle will also vary according to the industry you are selling to. This means, you may have to create the sales process all over again.
TIP: Create a new buyer persona every time your business expands into a new industry.
When you begin selling in a different territory, you need to constantly analyze the results of the selling efforts. Analyze your email conversion rates to see if cold emailing prospects does the trick. Cold emails may work in some regions, but in some cases, you might have to tweak your approach. As an alternative, you could reach out to prospects using Account Based Selling (ABS).
Account Based Selling is a highly personalized selling technique targeting high-value companies. It is a multi-touch sales process where the sales rep will reach out to multiple decision makers within the company.
When compared to bulk cold emails where you shoot emails to every prospect that matches your buyer persona, the number of emails you send out using ABS will be less. The lack of quantity is made up for by the quality. Each touchpoint the salesperson performs will be highly personalized, with the intention of forming a relationship with the prospect.
The sales cycle in ABS may be spread over months and the number of accounts a sales rep handles might be lower. This is because the deal value associated with ABS accounts is usually very high and each deal won would contribute to a large chunk of the sales target.
4. Measure the KPIs of the new sales process
Once you’ve tweaked or redone your sales process, it is back to step one. You need to ensure it is implemented throughout the team and that each rep understands how the process flows.
Step two is constant vigilance.
The key here is to compare and contrast. With the new sales process in place, constantly analyze the metrics as compared to the previous process. Keep an eye on the numbers to understand what changes worked best and what did not. To understand how the new sales process is faring compared to the former, measure the key performance metrics. Set quantifiable goals that can help achieve the sales target, using a combination of bulk cold emails and ABS. These goals could be:
- 30% increase in the lead to opportunity ratio
- 20% increase in the opportunity to win ratio
- 15% decrease in the loss rate by sales stage
These numbers may seem aspirational but with a leak-proof sales pipeline, it is achievable.
Identifying a broken sales process and optimizing it is a lot of hard work. You have enough on your plate, with all the metrics that need to be tracked and deals that have to be closed. A faulty CRM and 5 additional tools aren’t what you need to add to your plate. With an easy to use and intuitive design, in-built email tracking capabilities and customized reports, Freshsales CRM is the perfect all-in-one sales CRM to help you streamline your sales process.
Cover image by Sailesh Gunasekaran
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