Ever had a sales process that starts great and only stops being relevant when you need it most? (Sounds familiar?)
Of course, creating a bulletproof sales process can work the best. But with constant changes in the B2B world, it won't reap the same benefits. When you do the same thing repeatedly, it doesn't have the same spark, right? So why not optimize the sales process that you have already?
But clueless about where to start and how to optimize it?
We covered you with the tips you need to know about sales cycle optimization.
What is a Sales Process?
Sales processes are like guidebooks or maps that help salespeople journey from 'awareness' to 'conversion' by following multiple steps. Furthermore, well-defined sales processes provide the right actions at every stage, preventing errors like prospects slipping through the cracks.
But, what does a sales process look like?
Even though there are no one-size-fits for all sales process roadmap, most businesses follow the steps that include,
- Initiating contact
- Identifying their needs
- Establishing your KPIs
- Closing the deal
Once you close a deal, you can rinse and repeat the entire process.
It looks pretty simple, isn't it? But it takes several months for a single sales cycle. A sales process is much like a recipe. You may have all the right ingredients in place, but without following the proper steps and deviating from what's expected of you towards the end, it might not turn out well.
So sales cycle optimization is essential to get the most of it.
Reasons to Optimize Your Sales Process
When going through the sales process, you should constantly evaluate it to ensure it is working. This means testing and trying new things out.
It will also allow you to gain more insight into your customers so that you might have a better chance of closing deals later down the road. So let's figure out why you need sales cycle optimization in the first place.
Boosts your conversion rates
Your sales process is much like how a map will guide you from one location to the next. If you don't have a well-designed map, your team may never reach their destination because there's no standard way of traveling.
Your sales team can innovate unproductively if you don't model your process. Modeling a process for you and training the salesforce can prevent the company from drifting away from its goals.
And if your sales team knows the exact roadmap of your sales process, they can accelerate their efficiency, and you can taste better conversions.
The sales process is an essential part of your business. It's vital to have a well-structured and efficient sales process to attract the right kind of business.
With a perfect structure, you can focus only on quality leads and nurture them while taking off the zero quality leads on your plate.
Shortens the sales cycle
The average sales cycle can be relatively long; there are many steps to take, with prospecting being the initial before moving on to qualification, then closing.
With a perfect strategy in place, sales reps can quickly identify a "fit" prospect; this will help save time and allow them to focus on deals with higher chances of closing.
6 Simple Steps to Optimize Your Existing Sales Process
Optimizing your sales process is a method of making minor changes to your sales process that can multiply in effectiveness for your sales team. Optimize the sales process with these six simple steps to get the most out of it;
1. Map out your current process
The best way to start sales cycle optimization is to start analyzing your existing process. Many companies operate pretty informally in their sales processes, where everyone is more or less aware that there are clear steps that need to be taken for a sale to take place.
Map out these informal steps and determine how many information transfers and conversations you need with potential customers before reaching an agreement. A formal procedure will tell you how many emails you need to send, what messages you need to convey by phone, and who you need to speak with.
Whether your business is big or small, streamlining your processes and putting some order into how your staff operates can only ever help your business get up and running far more efficiently!
2. Build buyer persona and define the customer journey
A buyer persona is a profile that depicts your ideal customer. This ensures your company understands its target consumers and helps fine-tune its sales outreach and campaign strategy. Customer personas essentially give a "face" to the projects, products, and services you are trying to sell.
When you create your buyer persona, you can better understand your audience, which ultimately results in more sales.
So once you gather all the data, define your customer journey. Ask these questions,
- What are the typical customer touch points that could lead up to actual sales?
- How does one gain a new client's trust or credibility for your brand?
- How many phases should a sale typically go through before it is closed?
Try to figure out all aspects of the process from end to end so that everyone knows what to expect when going through the buying cycle.
3. Get rid of bottlenecks in your pipeline
If your leads are consistently hitting the same roadblocks at specific stages of the sales funnel and aren't moving further through the sales cycle, then you may be experiencing a pipeline bottleneck.
Often, this occurs when you have many leads entering your funnel but few left because of poor lead nurturing over time. You're throwing out plenty of bait for your targets to bite into, but without a proper hook and line to reel them in - it just isn't happening at scale.
The solution is often a lead nurturing campaign. By nurturing leads, companies can generate 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost.
You don't want your leads just to come in, sit down at the table with your product, and then leave without buying anything. This is why lead nurturing campaigns are so important - after all, they foster leads over time so that when they're ready to purchase, they'll be coming your way!
4. Fix the pipeline leaks
Lead conversion happens when sales are going well, and you make enough money. But as soon as things start to break down, you must look at your sales funnel. Broken processes mean leaky sales funnels, and the loss of potential customers comes with broken leaks.
To help you identify potential leak points, here are 3 warning signs:
- More leads with low conversion to deals
- More deals with low conversion into accounts
- More accounts won with a low loyal customer base.
If you are facing any of these issues, you can fix these by following these steps,
- Align your prospecting efforts in the proper direction with your buyer persona. If needed, try to recreate your buyer persona.
- Identify the most common objections your team faces and train them to handle them.
- Often times product users will churn because they do not understand the product properly, or sometimes it’s because their experience with the service has been poor. Find out why your customers left and what went wrong, or see if you can increase your support system so you can provide a better product experience.
- Leads may have already used a competitor's product or expressed concerns that fell on deaf ears and led them not to purchase anything. If this is the case, you need to clearly identify why these losses have happened and enhance your lead nurturing process accordingly.
Identify the potential leaks and fix them to scale your conversion rates.
5. Align your marketing and sales team
You might think of them as separate departments, but their responsibilities are connected. For example, sales and marketing teams often have the same goals - to increase revenue and growth. However, these two teams often struggle to work together effectively because they tend to focus on different things.
The sales team can spend too much time generating leads on top of their other responsibilities, while the marketing team will create plenty of leads that don't get followed up on or paid attention to. This is an obvious problem because if one department is not doing what it is supposed to be doing, it isn't going to help the other department get anything done!
Here are some quick tips on how you can unify both the teams and get better results,
- From awareness to finalization, the sales team can assist the marketing team with strategies to seamlessly transport customers through the buying cycle.
- Salespeople spend all their time interacting with customers and learning about their challenges and needs. Due to their firsthand experience, the sales team can give the marketing team a unique insight into customer behavior.
- The marketing team can help you determine what will capture your audience's attention, and the sales team can keep chasers up to date. By understanding customer profiles, both marketing and sales teams will be on the same page, making life easier for all involved in this win-win cooperation process.
Rather than working against each other, sales and marketing should find ways in which they can collaborate by working together toward common goals. When responsibilities overlap then, you'll begin to see positive results almost instantly.
6. Measure your KPIs
You need to have a purpose for measuring your progress as an organization, rather than just going off in a million different directions at once.
Sales reps need to know what they're working towards if they're going to reach their quotas and keep them consistently on track with their targets. Provide feedback to your teams on all the data points that matter.
Here are some of the important metrics that you can follow to measure the efficiency of your sales team,
- Sales per rep: The number of qualified leads that a sales rep makes.
- Monthly calls per sales rep: Each sales rep's monthly calls and how many of those calls convert into prospects.
- Lead to opportunity ratio: Number of leads that translates into sales.
- Average lead response time: The time needed to follow up with the engaged prospect.
- Cost of customer acquisition: A customer acquisition cost (CAC) is the amount you spend to convert a lead into a paying customer.
This will help improve sales performance since the team will constantly be updated on progress and which metrics are working best (with metrics that are not improving KPIs acting more as indicators).
Optimize your sales process often for more efficiency
Sales processes are individual to each company. No one-size-fits-all across-the-board process can predict an outcome when selling your services or products. The most crucial step is to measure progress and KPIs because that will tell you what needs some adjusting. So it’s important to optimize your sales process often.
If your prospects are deviating from your sales process, there might be a problem with your product demonstration. You may have a perfect product that serves your user. But if you fail to present every feature appealingly, you will convert none.
That's why it is essential to look under the hood and tweak your product demo in a way that takes your prospects on an interactive journey. But how can you achieve this? It's through Storylane. With Storylane, you can create an interactive product demo that handles the nitty gritty details of your product without making it a robotic demo.
Wondering how Storylane helps you to scale your product? Schedule a free demo now, as it shows just how you can leverage your performance with our simple platform!