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What is a sales process?

A sales process is a template your sales organization must follow to close new deals. It details consistent and repeatable sales activities that help your sales reps guide a prospect through every stage of the sales journey.

The sales process can be seen as a well-documented master plan for sales and should be included in your sales playbook.

What is a sales process flowchart?

A sales process flowchart is a visual representation of the sales process. It visually depicts each step in your sales process and helps reps understand how close they are to meeting their sales quota. It’s usually a part of the sales onboarding kit.

The goal of a sales process flowchart is to make following the various sales activities easier for your sales team.

Sales process vs. sales methodology: What’s the difference?

The sales process defines the “what” of selling, whereas the sales methodology defines the “how”.

As a result, a sales rep learns the steps to close a deal and nurture new clients by studying the sales process. Meanwhile, by exploring the sales methodology, the sales rep understands how to execute specific actions in the sales process – engaging with new prospects, qualifying them, and negotiating.

Sales processes are unique to organizations and cater to long-term business growth. However, sales methodologies can be the same or similar as they’re a collection of philosophies, principles, and field-tested strategies from sales experts.

Examples of popular sales methodologies include SPIN selling, N.E.A.T. selling, Challenger sales, MEDDIC, and more. These methodologies solve specific problems or challenges within a sales process.

Why is a sales process necessary?

An effective sales process can help you improve sales productivity, close more deals and increase margins. Some of the major benefits of a sales process include the following:

  1. A roadmap or a sales template for sales reps to pursue and achieve their goals
  2. Clear visualization of how sales activities are distributed across your organization
  3. Faster, more seamless onboarding of new sales reps
  4. Well-documented and organized sales training for sales teams
  5. Accurate sales projections and forecasting for sales managers

What are the seven stages of the sales process?

While each organization will have its own sales process, there are seven stages that they all have in common:

The first stage in any sales process is to capture leads, develop a database of potential customers, and then find ways to connect with them. You must understand the prospects, their needs, and their challenges to connect effectively. This requires extensive research on their company, industry background, role, market trends, and more.

Sales prospecting is also the stage where you explore the organization these prospects belong to, so as to map out their decision-makers and relevant prospecting techniques (cold emails, calls, social selling, etc.) to connect with them.

Having established a connection with a prospect, the next stage is to validate whether your solution suits their needs. There are several sales methodologies (MEDDIC, BANT, etc.) that you can employ to evaluate your prospects, conduct discovery calls, and find out whether they match your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile).

The goal of the qualification stage is to identify high-quality prospects and move them further down your sales pipeline.

Once you’ve identified the high-quality prospects and established a connection with them, the next stage is to ensure you truly have a foot in the door by conducting a demonstration. It should highlight your solution’s capabilities and how they solve the prospect’s needs.

Going through previous sales demos with past customers can help your sales managers identify the best sales pitches, develop a sales script, and offer consistent sales coaching to your reps so that they deliver an effective demo. The research you’ve performed on the prospect and their organization also comes in handy at this stage.

The evaluation stage is when prospects consider your solution by studying it, comparing it with your competitors, and understanding how it solves their problems.

At this stage, sales reps should stay in touch with the prospect continuously and offer any support they might need – case studies, testimonials, product specifications, use-case-specific demos, and more.

Even when a prospect sees clear value in your solution, they might present some objections or need further convincing. These discussions could be over product use, data privacy, compliance, pricing, and other concerns.

Studying past sales calls helps you identify the most commonly raised objections, develop scripts, and coach your reps to navigate them. In addition to scripts, you may also have to equip your salespeople with potential compromises to further negotiations – discounts, additional features, customized support, and more.

In B2B sales, closing is a stage that can involve final negotiations or discussions with the decision makers, finalizing the pricing, signing contracts, and defining and agreeing upon the legal terms, among others.

The goal is to ensure that the closing process doesn’t prolong too much or get stalled.

While closing deals is the goal of any sales organization, the sales process doesn’t end there. The final stage is nurturing to ensure you build and maintain a long-term relationship with your customer.

Engaging with existing customers and ensuring they’re satisfied helps you reduce your churn rate, ensure customer loyalty, get referrals, and have opportunities to upsell or cross-sell, thereby increasing your revenue even further.

The first stage in any sales process is to capture leads, develop a database of potential customers, and then find ways to connect with them. You must understand the prospects, their needs, and their challenges to connect effectively. This requires extensive research on their company, industry background, role, market trends, and more.

Sales prospecting is also the stage where you explore the organization these prospects belong to, so as to map out their decision-makers and relevant prospecting techniques (cold emails, calls, social selling, etc.) to connect with them.

Having established a connection with a prospect, the next stage is to validate whether your solution suits their needs. There are several sales methodologies (MEDDIC, BANT, etc.) that you can employ to evaluate your prospects, conduct discovery calls, and find out whether they match your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile).

The goal of the qualification stage is to identify high-quality prospects and move them further down your sales pipeline.

Once you’ve identified the high-quality prospects and established a connection with them, the next stage is to ensure you truly have a foot in the door by conducting a demonstration. It should highlight your solution’s capabilities and how they solve the prospect’s needs.

Going through previous sales demos with past customers can help your sales managers identify the best sales pitches, develop a sales script, and offer consistent sales coaching to your reps so that they deliver an effective demo. The research you’ve performed on the prospect and their organization also comes in handy at this stage.

The evaluation stage is when prospects consider your solution by studying it, comparing it with your competitors, and understanding how it solves their problems.

At this stage, sales reps should stay in touch with the prospect continuously and offer any support they might need – case studies, testimonials, product specifications, use-case-specific demos, and more.

Even when a prospect sees clear value in your solution, they might present some objections or need further convincing. These discussions could be over product use, data privacy, compliance, pricing, and other concerns.

Studying past sales calls helps you identify the most commonly raised objections, develop scripts, and coach your reps to navigate them. In addition to scripts, you may also have to equip your salespeople with potential compromises to further negotiations – discounts, additional features, customized support, and more.

In B2B sales, closing is a stage that can involve final negotiations or discussions with the decision makers, finalizing the pricing, signing contracts, and defining and agreeing upon the legal terms, among others.

The goal is to ensure that the closing process doesn’t prolong too much or get stalled.

While closing deals is the goal of any sales organization, the sales process doesn’t end there. The final stage is nurturing to ensure you build and maintain a long-term relationship with your customer.

Engaging with existing customers and ensuring they’re satisfied helps you reduce your churn rate, ensure customer loyalty, get referrals, and have opportunities to upsell or cross-sell, thereby increasing your revenue even further.

How to create a sales process for your organization

According to Gartner, an effective sales process is built back from a customer buying journey.

That's why before creating the sales process, you must clearly understand your customer and develop an ICP (Ideal Customer Persona). This, in turn, requires you to maintain a database of customers with rich context – their needs, roles and responsibilities, company information, etc.

Once you have all the information and a database, you can start creating a sales process. There are five steps to developing a comprehensive sales process:

  1. Understand and map your business and sales goals and the necessary sales process stages.
  2. Set up a sales pipeline to map your pipeline stages and qualification criteria for each stage.
  3. Define sales activities for each stage of the sales process. Identify sales methodologies or techniques for each stage, along with the necessary sales training and coaching.
  4. Identify metrics and KPIs to measure the success of each stage of the sales process. This is key to understanding the effectiveness of each stage, potential bottlenecks, and ways to optimize the overall process.
  5. Evaluate solutions (CRMs, conversation intelligence, conferencing tools, etc.) that your sales team will need to perform the various sales activities. Make sure you pick tools that automate as many activities (call transcription, summary, follow-up emails, tracking metrics, etc.) as possible.
  6. Engage with your sales teams regularly to understand whether the sales process works for them. Incorporate feedback or suggestions wherever possible.
Sales process checklist

Here are some tips to come up with a solid sales process:

  1. Analyze past sales to understand your ideal customers, compelling pain points your solution tackles, time spent in the various sales activities, the average sales cycle length, and more
  2. Map the right business goals and metrics
  3. Chart out the various stages of your sales process
  4. Identify specific methodologies, techniques, and sales scripts to support each stage of your sales process
  5. Set suitable KPIs (lead-to-prospect conversion rate, prospect-to-customer conversion rate, sales process adoption rate, forecasting accuracy, etc.) for each stage of your sales process
  6. Develop sales training, coaching, and resources to support your sales reps at each stage of the sales process
  7. Review the sales process periodically to assess bottlenecks and find ways to optimize every stage of the process

Wingman helps you optimize your sales process with automation, recommendations, and real-time insights

The sales process is a framework that guides sales teams in prospecting, nurturing, and converting new leads.

Wingman helps streamline the sales process by monitoring essential sales KPIs, automating call transcription and insights, and offering real-time sales coaching.

What’s next?