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Turning prospects into customers is a huge task that lies ahead of the sales team. Customers differ in their preferences, which necessitates a tailored approach by the team. A structured sales process helps accelerate conversions. It is, therefore important for every organization to follow a sales process effectively. In this article, you will learn about the steps in the sales process and tips to make the process scalable.

What is a sales process?

A sales process involves a series of steps taken by the sales team to convert quality leads into customers. Customers pass through various stages before finalizing a sale. The sales reps stay with the buyer through the entire journey.

A sales process gives the sales team a proper direction and framework to close sales.

Why is it important to build a sales process?

Do you need a sales process in your organization? Yes, the following are some of the reasons the sales process is important.

1. Organized activity

The sales process enables organized planning of your sales cycle. All members of the sales team work toward a common goal. The role of every team member is laid down clearly.

Building a sales process helps in the smooth functioning of sales activities.

2. Forecast sales

With a proper sales process in place, you can predict your sales and estimate revenues. The plan specifies the number of deals expected to be completed in a period. This makes it possible to have a realistic view of achievable sales.

3. Better communication

The sales process involves the working together of all team members. It results in better communication among the team. Communication is essential to work together in harmony and also express the views of each other.

Good communication helps to understand that the entire team is focussed on the same goal. This smoothens the working of the team.

4. Better customer experience

By following a proper sales process, you give a better experience to your customers. A well-structured sales process goes through several steps. It does not allow sales reps to dive straight into activities concerning closing the sales. It thus gives the opportunity to explore the needs of the buyer. You can create a satisfied customer base through the sales process.

5. Saves time

When a proper structure is followed, every sales rep is aware of the series of tasks to be performed. This saves a lot of time and thereby improves efficiency.

If not for a sales process, each salesperson would follow a trial and error method to determine the right approach for closing sales.

Who are the stakeholders in the sales process?

There are three important stakeholders who play an important role in the sales process.

1. Sales team manager

The sales manager leads the sales team with proper directions and strategies for the sales process. They are not in direct contact with the customers. They receive information about the buyer's pain points through the sales reps.

They prepare policies and supervise the working of the team. The manager makes sure that the team works towards the goals set.

2. Sales reps

They are the ones who directly communicate with the buyers. The sales reps should have a clear idea of the team’s vision and work accordingly. They should have good communication skills to convert leads into customers effectively.

The sales reps report to the sales managers. Their performance is governed by metrics, and this helps the manager to assess individual performance.

The sales reps have a wide range of tasks to perform.

3. Customers

The customers are the ones who buy your products. The sales team works hard only to satisfy the needs of the customer. Once your brand builds trust, they will become your brand ambassadors by spreading the word to people known to them.

Their online reviews and testimonials on your website influence the decision of other potential customers. The role of customers in the sales process bears great significance.

Now that we know the people involved in the process, let us move over to understand the steps involved in building a sales process.

Seven steps in building a sales process

Follow the below-listed steps to build a sales process.

1. Prospecting

The first step involves prospecting. It means identifying leads who are interested in your product. Prospecting is an important stage since the subsequent steps depend on the quality of leads generated here.

Identification of your buyer persona through proper research is essential. You can explore links through LinkedIn, or other social media sites. Cold emails, invitations to webinars, and trade events are other ways to prospect for clients.

2. Qualification

Qualifying the leads is the second step. The sales team should analyze whether the leads will move to the successive steps in the sales process. This is achieved through communication with the prospects.

Most sales teams use the BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timescale) methodology for qualifying leads.

  • Does the prospect have an adequate budget allocation to proceed with buying?
  • What is the authority level of the prospect you are communicating with to finalize the order?
  • Does the prospect have a need to buy, or will they postpone?
  • What is the timescale within which the prospects expect to buy?

The analysis enables decision-making by the sales team. They can decide whether to proceed with the lead or not.

3. Research

Sales reps undertake research to find out more about the company they are dealing with. They need to know the prospect’s expectations. Only if the sales team is aware of the company’s goals, will it be able to understand the needs better.

Research helps to understand the challenges faced by the company with the product they are using at the moment. It also helps in overcoming all the objections raised by the prospect.

This process involves extracting more information about the prospect with extensive communication. A customized approach for each buyer helps to analyze them better.

4. Demonstration

Once qualified leads are identified, product/service demonstration would be the next step. The buyer should know the various aspects of the product and its usage. They should also be informed about the sales support team, who can help them with the product anytime.

The buyer decided to proceed with your brand since they find it more suitable for their business. A demonstration should let them understand the specific use cases. This session will also be a doubt-clearance time for the buyer.

Your sales reps should be accompanied by team leads so that they can respond to all customer queries.

5. Handling objections

During the sales process, the customer may raise a lot of objections. The sales team should find ways to suitably rebut their objections so as to assist them decide in favor of your brand.

Objections may be on the basis of price, trust, comparison with competitors, lack of need, lack of urgency, and lack of authority. The sales reps should listen, understand, communicate, and follow up with the buyers to provide suitable solutions to them.

Objections are common, and the sales reps should not be bogged down. They should consider this an opportunity to learn more about the prospect. Handling objections with empathy brings about a change in the situation.

6. Finalize the deal

This is the penultimate stage in the sales process. Here the sales team closes the deal with the buyer, which implies that the buyer is convinced about your brand.

Closing the deal would involve negotiation, preparation of quotations, and signing of the contract. The finalization stage involves the role of sales team leaders who communicate with the buyer to confirm all terms and conditions. At the end of this stage the prospect becomes your customer.

7. Nurturing

Now you have a customer who needs to be onboarded. Nurturing is one of the stages in onboarding a customer. This step is essential to retain the customers for a long time.

A satisfied customer is more likely to recommend your brand to others. This way your brand gets more exposure. Connect with the customer to see if the product satisfies their expectations. Act on the feedback you receive from the customer.

Creating a customer base is not an easy task so it remains of utmost importance to nurture the customers gained.

Sales process for different organizations

Not all businesses have a well-defined sales process. While it is absolutely beneficial to have a sales process in place, some organizations do not follow one or have different processes.

1. No sales process

Here the business follows no particular process. The sales reps carry on the prospecting task as per their decisions.

2. Non-standardized process

In this case, the business follows a process, but it is not standardized. This indicates a lack of planning and coordination among the members of the team.

3. Standardized process but not enforced

When the sales leaders lack competence, the sales process may not be enforced even when it has been created in the first place.

4. Standardized and enforced process

This is an example of a perfect organization that has a standardized sales process that is also enforced. Periodic review of the process is also conducted to bring in changes as necessary.

5. Sales process improvement

These are enforced in proactive organizations where feedback is considered important. Improvements based on feedback are communicated to the sales team.

How to scale your sales process?

Scaling the sales process means bringing about improvements in the process to make it more effective. The following are some of the ways you can scale your sales process.

1. Right team

Create the right team who can focus on goals and follow the process step by step. Training the team is the best way to bring everyone on the same page. Regular sessions and follow-ups help monitor the progress.

2. Set milestones

Fixing milestones gives direction to the sales process. Determining the percentage of increase in the number of customers and framing ways to achieve the same makes the task of the sales team easier.

Frequent reviews show where you stand in comparison to your milestones. Suitable action can be taken based on this, like giving more push to speeden up the process if there is any slack.

3. Organize the sales process

Your sales process must be organized so as to be effective. If there are any delays or hindrances, they should be looked into immediately. A streamlined process is essential to focus on goals. This helps in the overall improvement of the business.

4. Improve your sales pitch

You cannot be working with an outdated sales pitch. Revisiting your pitch and updating it according to present scenario is essential. You should also check the efficiency of the pitch. You can present the sales pitch to a qualified lead to observe its acceptance. This will let you know if the pitch is working well or if there is any need to make adjustments.

5. Explore more ways to reach the prospects

To scale your sales process, it is important to research more ways to reach the prospects. Following a single channel will leave you out of opportunities. Examine whether your present approach is favorable with the prospects. For example, suppose you are using emails to reach your leads at present, you may try other methods like content marketing, referrals, trade events, etc.

6. Identify a scalable sales process

The sales process should be sustainable to suit the long term. At the same time, it should also be scalable to improve the process when needed. You can identify the sustainability of the process through feedback from your sales team.

7. Use the right software

When you use the right tools, they can help you save time and improve productivity. Various tools for multiple functions are available. Choose the most appropriate tool to scale your sales process.

Tools also help identify the hurdles in the process and offer timely solutions. The sales team leaders can use software to keep track of the activities of the team.

8. Utilize data analytics

Harnessing data is useful to scale the sales process. Metrics provide you with the required data. This is to be utilized in the improvement of the sales process. Data analytics assist in identifying processes that are defective so that you can determine the solution to correct the same.

Mistakes to avoid in the sales process

The sales process needs to planned systematically to derive the desired benefits. The sales team should avoid the following mistakes in this process.

1. Not matching the buyer’s journey

A prospect undergoes various stages in the lifecycle namely, awareness, consideration, purchase, retention, and advocacy. The sales process has to be aligned with the buyer’s needs. The sales reps should understand the requirements of the leads and plan the sales process accordingly.

A sales process that does not consider the buyer and is simply aggressive does not find favor with the buyer. It will not produce the desired results and needs to be avoided.

2. No defined sales process

A standardized sales process creates a proper structure to the activities of the sales rep. Without this, each one would be following a different strategy. The team will not move toward the business goals.

The sales team has to follow the seven steps in the sales process to generate customers. This will give them proper direction to go step-by-step in creating a customer base.

3. Absence of communication

This can be a major mistake since communication is vital between a buyer and the sales reps. The sales team can take the product closer to the prospect only through effective communication.

Communication is a critical skill needed in a sales rep. They should be able to able to communicate the needs and concerns of the buyer to the managers. Lack of communication will be a serious cavity in the sales process.

4. Not ready to overcome objections

As we have seen above, objections handling is a step in sales process. The buyer may state various reasons for not proceeding with the pipeline. It is the duty of the sales reps to handle this situation tactfully.

Some sales reps accept that the buyer is not interested and stop the process there. They should actually try and understand the needs of the buyer and their pain points to handle objections.

Ask a lot of questions and communicate to the prospect that you have understood their concern.

5. Rigid sales process

A sales process should be flexible and adaptable to changes. A rigid process will not bring the necessary impact. You are dealing with the human element in sales. The preferences are subject to change.

Your sales process should be framed in such a manner that it encompasses changes in the external environment. For example, if you feel cold calling does not work for your buyer, you should try changing the technique and not stick to it just because the plan has it.

6. Not evaluating the process

Your sales process will become ineffective if you do not have strategies to evaluate it periodically. Metrics do the work and bring to light what is right and wrong in your process.

Analyze the progress of your efforts to find out if the sales team is traveling in the right direction. This helps corrects flaws before it becomes too late. Gaining customers is not an easy task, therefore you should employ caution in the process.

It is also important to document the progress after regular reviews so that it is easier to get back when needed.

7. Excessive concentration on closing sales

Closing the deal is absolutely important but it is not all. All haste and paying attention only to finalize the sale without paying heed to provide solution to the prospect’s problem will leave you with an ineffective process.

Most sales reps do this because they have a pressure from the leaders to show numbers. The sales process should involve adding value to the buyer at every stage.

Tips to make the sales process easier for your sales team

Follow these simple tips so that your sales team is able to avoid mistakes and abide by the sales process.

1. Understand customer pain points

Your target should be to address the pain points of the customer. Trying to satisfy a need that does not exist is a redundant activity. The sales team should research well and understand what the customer expects, whether they have any suggestions for improvement, what are the issues with the product they are using currently, etc.

This will give a clear insight on how to plan sales activities.

2. Make opportunity out of objections

This tip is a must-follow. Every objection gives you an opportunity to explore the problem of the customer and the kind of solution they are looking for. A sales rep should not be upset by objections. Some salespersons do not have the impetus to proceed further in case the prospect is stern on the objection.

3. Use the right tools

Tools are to assist the sales team to be more efficient in their work. Many tools are available online, so choose as per your company’s needs. There are free trial offers that you can utilize to find out if the tool works good for you. Tools ease the steps in the sales process.

4. Concentrate on quality

The sales team should pay attention to quality of prospects and not the quantity. Targets are of course fixed in terms of numbers but this should not affect the process of choosing the right buyer. When you generate quality leads, the other steps in the sales process becomes easier. You can create a customer who is satisfied with your product.

5. More knowledge about your product

It is imperative that the salesperson has complete knowledge about the product. This will help them answer queries raised by prospects. When your sales reps responds well to the customer’s doubts, your reputation improves. They develop trust in the product and the brand. This helps in creating a loyal customer base.

Key KPIs in the sales process

Monitoring the sales process is essential to see where your progress is, in comparison to your goals.

1. Sales target

Every organization has a sales target fixed for a quarter. All activities are directed toward achieving the same. The sales team managers should analyze if the targets are achieved at the end of the quarter. If the practices followed facilitate the achievement of targets, the team could continue with the same, else changes need to be brought about.

2. Monthly growth

Comparison of every month’s growth with that of the previous ones enables easy identification of leaks in the process. If there are any loopholes, the same is brought to the notice of the team leaders.

3. Monthly calls per sales representative

Every sales rep has to maintain a fixed number of calls per month. This gives insight into their performance and progress. In case of difficulties in achieving the monthly target, the sales rep can communicate the reasons to the team manager to enable them find corrective solutions.

4. Monthly bookings

These also indicate the performance of the team in a month. The number of conversions from leads to customers will indicate the number of bookings. An improvement in the monthly bookings shows improved performance by the team.

5. Sales opportunities

When your sales team is performing well, more sales opportunities are thrown open to the organization. A customer who finds your brand reliable, spreads the word to others, and this leads to more sales opportunities. The process of conversion is easy when you gain leads through referrals.

Reporting and analytics in the sales process

These are the two important indicators of the performance of the sales team. Reporting and analytics offer crucial data to the business, but there is a slight difference between the two.

Reporting involves extracting and organizing data from different sources. From the data obtained, you get an insight into the working of the sales process. Analytics uses the data obtained in the reporting stage. This is helpful in planning the course of action.

Measuring the KPIs in the sales process offers reporting data. Analytics would involve identifying the leaks in the process by using the data acquired, and providing solutions to plug the same. Reporting and analytics are vital for keeping the sales process relevant and scalable.

Sales process best practices

These are the best practices to follow to have a well-performing sales process.

1. Plugging the leaks

How do you identify a leak in the sales process? When the number of leads generated is more than the number of conversions, it suggests a leak in the process. Leaks should be plugged immediately as you may lose valuable leads otherwise.

To do this you should identify the origin of the problem. For example, the prospects may have unattended objections and may drop out of the process due to this. The sales team should analyze the issue and provide solutions to the prospect.

2. Free up the sales pipeline

The sales pipeline indicates the various stages the prospect passes through before making a sale. There has to be a free flow from one stage to another. If there is any concern at any stage, the prospect gets clogged at that stage.

The sales team has to identify the stage at which the prospect is stuck, address their concerns, and facilitate free movement to the next stage.

3. Keep the process suitable for customers

Various changes may arise in the external business environment. Your sales process has to be updated accordingly. It should be flexible to adapt to changes.

The sales process should be suitable to correspond to the new customers on board. When you plan business expansion, this point holds great validity. A process suitable for one customer may not be suitable for another in a different industry.

4. Measuring KPIs

Measure the KPIs to make sure everything is as per plan. If you have introduced any changes to the process, you have to monitor the same as well.

Monthly or quarterly sales targets, the number of calls per sales rep, bookings achieved, etc., are indicators of KPI. The actuals achieved should be compared with targets to analyze the progress.


A sales process is critical for the sales team as they help achieve more conversions. The process should be robust and responsive. The above article guides you with the best practices in the sales process. Measure your progress periodically and assess compliance with KPIs. You can thus establish a scalable sales process.

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