Editor’s note: The following is a guest post by noCRM’s Head of Marketing, and online acquisition expert, Marc Turbé. noCRM is a SaaS lead management solution with a focus on the next action.
What is a Sales Workflow?
The sales workflow may also be known as a sales process or sales funnel. It most commonly refers to the repeatable set of steps your sales team makes to move a prospect from early-stage outreach toward closing them as a customer.
When these steps are viewed all together, they form the sales pipeline, giving a broad overview of the upcoming potential sale and how likely they are to convert.
Why Build a Sales Workflow?
A structured sales process helps your reps consistently close deals by giving them a framework to follow.
Your sales workflow helps you gain insight into:
- The number of leads in each stage of your funnel.
- How likely conversions are at each stage.
This helps you better understand:
- Whether you hit your targets at each stage
- Which stages might require more attention.
Building a repeatable and scalable sales process is not easy, but it is an essential part of your business. From the first contact through purchase, a lead will pass through multiple stages of your sales workflow. This journey should be customized to each business type and size, depending on the target audience or industry and the products or services you offer.
Your sales workflow is the core of your sales machine and an improvement on one stage of the funnel can impact every stage that follows.
Where Does the Sales Workflow Start and End?
Before moving on to the sales workflow more directly, it’s important to remind ourselves of where exactly it sits in the customer journey.
The customer journey includes all contact moments a customer has ever had with your brand. From the first time they see your brand via an ad, to their first conversation with a sales rep, to the moment you win them over and they, hopefully, become a lifelong fan. (Alternatively, they could churn out of dissatisfaction, but we like to remain optimistic!)
The sales funnel is situated at a key juncture: the marketing-sales handoff.
The marketing funnel includes all interactions up until the point your potential buyer has direct contact with a sales representative. That is to say, the moment they leave contact details on a website or speak to a representative via phone, chat, or in-person.
What follows is the sales funnel, where your sales team progressively moves your potential customer forward toward a buying decision.
Build a Sales Workflow with Steps Relevant to Your Business
To be most effective, the sales workflow should be tailored to reflect your ideal customer profile as well as what type of business you actually close. That being said, the best possible starting point is to interview your sales team and review recently won deals.
One sales process that can be quite universal and standard is the five-step workflow which should be fine-tuned based on your sales reps’ experience to increase conversions at each stage. Note,
Step 1: Research Your Prospects
Perform research on sites such as LinkedIn to evaluate lead quality. This will help gauge prospects’ willingness to move forward and further down the funnel. Learning the pain points, the main motivators behind a prospect and their company goals help the seller better understand the issues at hand. They’ll get a complete overview of the business and be able to offer a more tailored experience.
This significantly improves the likelihood a deal will close. In the end, your salesperson should aim to have a better understanding of your buyers’ businesses than the buyers themselves.
While this step isn’t a direct interaction with the prospect, it shouldn’t be overlooked. Knowledge is every sales reps best tool when building rapport with potential clients. Plus, establishing an ideal fit now will save a lot of headaches down the road. It is possible to win bad deals, and this is your first safeguard against it.
Step 2: Connect Via Sales Calls or Email
Cold calling is a classic and effective way to reach out to a prospect. This ensures you’re able to create an immediate connection with the targeted buyer.
However, when that’s not possible, there are other channels to create a connection with a potential customer, such as social media, email, and even texting. Try to find out which one your potential customers are most willing to embrace.
In this phase, you should take detailed records of all the first interactions you have with your prospects.
Step 3: Qualify Your Potential Clients
The salesperson will proceed to the qualification step by identifying the prospect’s pain points, challenges, and business goals. The salesperson might ask questions like, “Tell me more about your role. What do you do on a daily basis?” “What issues do you struggle with and are you trying to solve?” and “Why is this now becoming a priority?”
This part is essential. You should synthesize your prospect’s goals and use case with your product’s capabilities to judge if they’re qualified to move forward in the sales funnel.
Combining a tool like noCRM.io to handle leads with a VoIP software — such as Aircall — for better prospect outreach and engagement. Your sales team will be able to make their calls directly in the lead management software and have the call details and conversation recording automatically attached to the lead.
Step 4: Demonstrate Value to Prospects
When your reps find a qualified opportunity, the next step is a formal demonstration of the product or service. Based on the collected data about the lead, the sales rep can tailor their presentation of the product or service’s features to address the main challenges facing the potential customer.
If your product or services is easy to present and has obvious benefits, this step may not be necessary. However, large deals tend to have more complex needs, requirements, and questions regarding your product or services. Therefore, it’s a key part of the process where you alleviate any remaining doubts the buyer may have regarding your solution.
Step 5: Closing the Deal
This stage refers to any late-stage activities that happen as a deal approaches their buying decision. It can be pretty straight forward when the potential customer enters their credit card information but it can also include lengthy negotiations, back and forth around a proposal until all decision-makers are on board. Whatever sales closing technique you adopt, this is the one necessary stage, common to all sales workflows.
It should be of no surprise that a motto for salespeople is “ABC” (Always Be Closing). In a lot of companies, sales reps earn a commission based on the negotiated price and therefore are strongly incentivized to find a contractual agreement satisfactory to both the buyer and the seller.
That said, a customer’s journey does not end once the deal is closed. The account will usually pass to a customer success officer or an account manager to make sure the on-boarding of the new customer starts in the best of ways.
Measuring for Success
Once you’ve mapped out your sales workflow, you’ll want clear performance indicators (KPIs) to measure each stage.
For example, how many leads transitioned into and out of each stage in a given time period?
You’ll want to be able to easily draw out conclusions like, “In January, we started with 95 prospects in the ‘Demo” stage. The sales team had moved through 48 prospects, and added 19 from marketing action, leaving us with 66 prospects in the ‘demo booked’ stage.” Here are some other examples of sales metrics for the different stages:
- Is there a stage that is, on average, taking too long for prospects to move out of?
- Percentage of qualifying calls out of all calls?
- Churn rate (i.e., if certain customers are churning quickly, this is an indicator that your vetting process is not up-to-par in your sales workflow).
These are the very basics most teams find valuable in measuring performance. Give some thought to metrics specific to your business that will help you define success or the need for improvements in any particular stage.
Tips for Building the Perfect Sales Workflow
Don’t leave your sales process steps open to interpretation
It’s important to define specific, concrete actions that move your prospects from one step to the next. If you don’t have a clear idea of what these triggers are (and don’t report on their performance) your sales team might come away with a less accurate understanding of where things stand.
It will be hard for them to know where to improve and potentially lead to mishandling of the sales process steps. There’s nothing worse than for a sales team to see closed deals churn only a couple of months after being converted.
Once you’ve defined your sales process, document it, share it, and practice it with your team.
Train your sales team to be at ease with those steps. Role-play exercises are extremely useful to improve their handling of leads at each step.
Your sales workflow is an iteration process. Once you’ve been rolling the ball forward a few months, it’s time to go back to the drawing board to see what works and what doesn’t.
noCRM and Aircall provide an integrated solution for companies to implement customizable workflows, enable sales reps to keep track of their sales pipeline as well as stay on top of their leads with recorded conversations and centralized information.