Imagine this scenario: You're the owner of a software company, and you've just launched a...
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A mature sales process in place isn't just a fancy B2B term but a must-have if you want success. And you might even have one within your business. But, as markets evolve, you must optimize your current sales process to guide your business. 81% of companies say enhanced sales processes can lead to improved productivity.
So, let us discuss what techniques you can incorporate to better your existing sales approach. But first, we'll explore some basics and reinforce the importance of sales optimization.
What Is the B2B Sales Process and Its Stages?
The B2B sales process is a sequence of events that unfold as you try to sell your product or service to another business. The process takes you through six stages:
If you optimize these sales process stages, you can see 18% more revenue growth!
And for that, you must know what these stages involve.
Let's break these stages down, and then we’ll talk about optimizing these sales cycle stages in the sections below.
1. Lead Generation and Prospecting
The first stage involves generating sales-ready leads and finding the most potential prospects among the leads.
To generate leads, you need a well-designed lead gen strategy that identifies potential clients accurately. It may include:
- Cold emails to reach intended customers.
- Warm calls to cold email recipients who engage with your content but don't respond. Calls can give them a more humanized feel from your brand.
- LinkedIn Inmail to reach your leads who interact with emails but don't reply.
- Targeted aids on social media.
The next stage involves asking the right qualifying questions and choosing the most fitting leads once you fill your sales pipeline with potential leads. These top leads will go into your sales pipeline for prospecting.
Use lead qualification frameworks like these to find the best prospects:
- BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline)
- MEDDIC (Metrics, Economic Buyer, Decision Criteria, Decision Process, Identify Pain, Champion)
2. Researching and Connecting
Your primary focus here is following up on your potential prospects. However, first, you must get more familiar with your prospects' needs, their businesses' specific challenges, and how to respond to a sales lead.
Thus, this stage includes:
- Reviewing your prospect's business
- Performing market analysis to learn more about your prospect's target industry and users.
- Getting insights into your competitors' sales strategy’s weaknesses and strengths.
- Creating data-driven content and linking them to follow-up emails. It's an important step, as 74% of buyers prefer brands who share unique values and insights.
- Scheduling warm calls and sending voice notes at regular intervals.
- Investing in paid aids to show up on prospects’ social feeds.
The next stage is limited to prospects with higher buying signals. You must craft a compelling sales demo tailored to your prospect's needs.
Showcase how your business offering can effectively address the specific challenges of your potential customer. Our experts suggest using a sales demo once your prospects:
- Complete a micro-conversion
- Contact a member of your sales team
- Request a consultation
You can conduct these demos through various channels, such as:
- Phone calls
- Face-to-face meetings
- Video conferences
4. Addressing Objections
Once your SDRs present your product/service to your audience, they'll evaluate and ask questions regarding it. Hence, they may come up with multiple objections that may hinder conversions at this stage of the sales leads funnel. Some of such grievances may arise in the form of:
- Budget constraints
- Trust issues
- Perceived lack of necessity
- Absence of urgency
In this stage, your job is to handle these objections effectively. Thus, you can build your prospects' confidence in your business.
5. Closing the Deal
After you clear the objections, the next stage heads toward booking sales appointments and closing the sale. Your closing technique can vary based on your specific prospect and their requirements.
Here, you hand over prospects to qualified Assistant Executives (AEs). Ensure they are ready to talk business with the sales opportunity.
6. Onboarding and Retaining
Your sales process doesn't end with closing. The next stage involves ensuring a strong connection with your prospects, turning them into paying customers. It's a key step in your sales cycle optimization efforts.
You can do so with regular onboarding emails with customers with valuable and updated information. Such nurturing practices help maintain relationships with your customers for long-term success.
Now that you know the stages of lead gen to the sales cycle, let's see why you should have them for your business.
Advantages of Creating an Optimized Sales Process
Imagine your software solution takes off, and the potential leads keep pouring in. Without a well-organized system, chaos ensues, right?
A well-designed sales optimization process can increase your sales conversion rate. Let us see how:
1. Get Streamlined Sales Efforts and More Efficiency
The best thing about the sales process is it ensures a continuous flow of prospects.
For example, your marketing team generates leads. Then, your sales team picks promising sales prospects from the generated lead base. Further, SDRs fix the appointments, and AEs close the sale.
Such efficiency is a growth driver in the competitive business landscape.
2. Leverage Organized Structure for Sales Teams
Have you ever tried building a sandcastle without a mold? Tricky, right? Your sales team faces a similar challenge without a structured process. A sales process acts as that mold, providing a clear framework.
A CSO Insights report backs this claim as it suggests formal sales processes improve individual rep quota attainment by 65%.
It guides your team on what steps to take, when, and how. Think of it as a roadmap, ensuring everyone is on the same page and working towards a common goal.
3. Maintain Consistency and Predictability
A sales process brings consistency to your selling approach. It sets standards for customer interactions and ensures each prospect goes through an optimized sales journey.
Further, by analyzing each stage, you can:
- Forecast sales more accurately
- Identify bottlenecks
- Fine-tune your approach based on what works best
However, besides the basics, you must follow our curated steps to optimize your effective sales process.
8 Practical Strategies to Optimize Sales Process
As discussed in the beginning, your target customers pass through the 6 sales process stages to finally make a purchase. We mentioned what these stages comprise and the basic efforts you need to do.
However, now we'll reveal effective strategies to optimize your sales cycle further.
So, let us begin with these ways for sales process improvement:
1. Thoroughly Assess Your Sales Audience's Needs
While performing lead generation and prospecting, you need a well-designed assessment practice to find the best clients. Go beyond basics to understand the needs of your prospects. Doing so makes your business 60% more profitable than those who don't.
Here are some tips to help you conduct an influential audience needs assessment:
- Let the Audience Tell What They Expect from You: Design surveys and questionnaires that are clear, concise, and focused on obtaining the necessary information. Use open-ended and closed-ended questions, like:
- Use Multiple Data Sources: Use data-collection sources to gather information on prospects' needs. These may include:
- Focus groups
- Social media
- Customer feedback
Revnew’s Pro Tip- Conduct a pilot test to identify and address any potential issues related to the functioning of these tools. It will save you resources to invest in implementing a full-scale assessment process.
2. Regularly Check Sales Prospects' Qualifications
You may have already created a list of promising prospects to contact. But job switches and contact data going invalid happen more often than you think.
You can use data validation tools to keep track of changes. But you also need to ensure that updated job roles and the authority of your target prospects are still relevant to your business.
Therefore, keep your prospects (with updated details) in the loop to pass through BANT regularly.
Here's how you can apply BANT for ideal prospect identification:
|Question to Ask
|What is your budget for [product/service]?
|Determines if the prospect has the financial resources to invest in your product or service. Understanding their budget constraints helps you qualify leads and focus on prospects who can afford your offerings.
|Who is the decision-maker for [product/service] within your organization?
|Identifies the key decision-makers in the prospect's organization. Engaging with individuals who have the authority to make purchasing decisions or influence the decision-making process is essential.
|What specific challenges or goals are you looking to address with [product/service]?
|Assesses the prospect's needs and understands if your product or service aligns with their requirements. This step ensures that you are targeting prospects who have a genuine need for what you offer.
|When are you planning to implement or decide about [product/service]?
|Determines the prospect's timeline for making a decision or implementing a solution. This information helps you prioritize leads based on their readiness to engage and make a purchase.
3. Apply Competitive Intelligence (CI) for Brand Positioning
Even when you reach out to the correct prospects, they may not convert. It's because you may not be the only one pursuing them.
Thus, it's time to use competitive intelligence for your overall sales funnel optimization. 90% of Fortune 500 companies practice CI for competitive advantage.
It's a great trick to gain a strategic understanding of the marketplace. Here are tips to effectively apply CI in your sales process:
Understand Competitor Offerings
Gain a deep understanding of your competitors' products or services. It includes:
- Unique selling propositions (USPs)
It helps you show the value of your offerings to prospects compared to competitors. Plus, you. Plus, it addresses potential objections based on competitors' products' features. Overall, this information enhances your sales pitch.
Identify Competitor Strengths and Weaknesses
Analyze your competitors' strengths and weaknesses across various dimensions, such as:
- Product quality
- Customer service
- Market presence
It can help position your products or services as superior in those areas.
Track Competitor Pricing Strategies
Regularly monitor and analyze your competitors' pricing models, discounts, and special promotions. Use the information for:
- Setting your pricing strategy
- Identifying areas where you can offer more competitive rates
- Negotiating effectively with customers
Adapt Sales Tactics Based on High-performing Competitors' Moves
Stay vigilant about your competitors' actions and adapt your sales tactics accordingly. Adjust your messaging to emphasize your unique advantages if a competitor launches a new product or service.
Similarly, if a competitor faces challenges or negative publicity, use that information strategically to position your brand more favorably.
4. Create Interactive Product Presentations and Quoting
Your prospect deserves a personalized touch throughout your sales process. And it becomes more crucial when you present your product to them. One way to do so is by using interactive product presentations.
It involves creating dynamic and interactive product pages that allow customers to explore different features, options, and pricing scenarios. It engages them in decision-making, making the proposal more personalized and compelling.
5. Handle Objections Like a Pro
Though frustrating, addressing objections head-on increases your win rate by 64%. And our experts have a proven framework to turn objections into opportunities: LAER (Listen, Acknowledge, Explore, and Respond).
This structured approach will help you emphasize a positive and customer-centric interaction. Let us see the framework in detail:
|Actively listen to the customer's objection without interruption. Understand their concerns to address them effectively.
|Acknowledge the objection to show empathy and understanding. It validates the customer's perspective and builds rapport.
|Explore the objection by asking clarifying questions. Dig deeper to uncover the root cause and gather more information.
|Provide a thoughtful and tailored response to the objection. Offer solutions or information that directly address the customer's concerns.
Make this framework more effective by preparing in advance for some common objections mentioned earlier in the guide. Let us see how:
|“Your product is too expensive.”
|Clearly illustrate the destination your solution can lead them to. It’ll make a compelling case that the potential reward justifies their investment risk.
|“Your company is unfamiliar to me.”
|Develop impactful dialogs that reinforce the value outlined in your elevator pitch. Highlight your organization's authority within the market.
|“I'm struggling to understand how this can benefit me.”
|Create a set of layered questions to learn what benefits prospects are seeking. If there's alignment, use it to showcase the value you can provide.
|“Right now, [X problem] doesn't seem to be my priority.”
|Encourage them to elaborate on why a certain aspect is not deemed essential. If they seem to downplay a genuine pain point, there might be an opportunity to address it further.If faced with resistance, consider scheduling a follow-up appointment later to delve deeper into the issue.
6. Use Sales Closing Techniques
It is the most important stage of your sales process. So, pay extra attention to each detail.
Outsourcing a professional AE can be great as they have the communication skills and proficiency to close deals.
Here are three sales closing techniques that you must know:
In this technique, you assume the prospect has already decided to purchase. It involves using language that implies the sale is a done deal.
For example, "When would you like the product delivered?" or "What color would you prefer?"
It involves getting the prospect to agree on a smaller-sale aspect before finalizing the deal. It helps gauge the prospect's readiness to commit.
An example could be, "If we can meet your delivery timeline, are you ready to move forward with the subscription?"
This technique involves presenting the prospect with two or more options, all leading to a positive outcome for you.
For instance, "Would you prefer to start with the basic package, or do you see more value in the premium option?"
It gives the prospect a sense of control and helps guide them toward a decision.
7. Follow-Up to Retain Customers
You need to do much more than only send a thank-you email after your prospect makes the purchase. Work on your follow-up strategy for lasting relationships with customers.
Here are the tips:
- Reach Out Timely: Ensure your follow-up is prompt and timely. A quick response shows your commitment to customer satisfaction.
- Personalize: Tailor your follow-up messages to each customer. Reference specific details about their purchase or previous interactions. It demonstrates that you value their experience and are attentive to their needs.
- Upgrade Value: Instead of promoting additional products or services, provide ongoing value. Share relevant resources, tips, or updates that align with their interests or previous purchases.
While addressing concerns, provide additional information, or express gratitude for their business.
8. Encourage Feedback from Your Sales and Marketing Team
You can refine your approach by regularly gathering all parties' feedback about the sales process. Companies that actively seek and integrate feedback see a 14.9% increase in sales productivity.
Therefore, you must integrate a feedback loop within the sales process. Follow these tips for the best outcome:
- Include positive and constructive feedback. This way, teams can acknowledge strengths and successes and work on improvement areas.
- Foster an environment where feedback is a two-way street. Encourage teams to ask questions, seek clarification, or provide their perspective.
- Actively listen to their responses and be open to adjusting the sales process based on the insights they share.
Best Practices of Sales Process Optimization
Here are some best practices that will make the optimization process smooth for you:
1. Create a Sales Process Map
Build a map that details sales stages and activities. It revolves around a potential customer's steps from the initial contact to the final sale.
Define each stage clearly. The stage-specific processes should be measurable and linked to specific outcomes.
Mapping this out visually helps you understand the flow and identify areas for enhancement.
2. Perform a Sales Process Audit
Have you ever wondered what's working well and needs improvement? Conducting an audit helps you pinpoint bottlenecks or gaps in your current approach.
Consider involving your sales team in this audit. They're on the front lines and might have valuable insights into what's working and what could be more efficient.
3. Integrate Technology and Automation
Automate repetitive tasks like sending trigger-based emails or running drip campaigns based on prospects' behavior. Choose customized tools rather than a one-size-fits-all solution. They should align with your specific business needs.
4. Train and Empower Your Sales Team
Before designing any training program:
- Assess your team's skills and knowledge levels.
- Conduct surveys, interviews, or even one-on-one discussions to identify specific areas for improvement.
- Customize training content to address your sales team's needs and challenges.
You can take progressive approaches like:
- Encouraging regular role-playing exercises in a practical setting.
- Incorporating real-life scenarios and case studies into your training sessions to provide valuable insights.
However, the best option is to outsource skilled sales professionals like:
- SDRs (Sales Development Representatives)
- BDRs (Business development representatives)
- AEs (Assistant Executives)
So, are you ready to elevate your business game? Optimize your sales process for heightened productivity and revenue. Following the above mentioned techniques will enable you to experience streamlined workflows, increased conversions, and sustained growth.
You can make the task efficient and easy with Revnew, your trusted sales enablement partner. Our experts are ready to transform your sales approach with proven tactics. Learn how we can help you by contacting us today.