In my opinion, the most important aspects to getting a repeatable sales process off the ground is constant, iterative changes and just some real hard work. You have to outwork the competition (and yes, this implies working smart as well).I've sold everything from wine to software, and can tell you that I've never had anyone define what a sales process actually is. In fact, when asked this question I usually hear an answer that starts with “Well, our sales process is…” as it's always unique to your company, your product, and your buyer.I was featured in Sales Hacker's webinar with Scott Barker, Alex German, and Samantha McKenna, where we discussed this, along with how to build your initial sales team that will maximize future scalability.Hopefully, after watching this you're able to gain some insights on how to scale your B2B sales process.Below you can watch the full recording of our conversation, I hope you enjoy!!
Defining a Sales Process
I can’t tell you how many times I've been told "Hey Pat, here's your pipeline, go for it!" I’m sorry, but that isn’t a sales process. A pipeline, a book of business, or a “patch” is not a defined sequence of events that follows your buyer journey.It should, however, be a VERY repeatable motion. Your sales process at a high level should be a sequence of events, with prescriptive gates that follows your natural buyer journey. It serves to guide your sellers as they manage their pipeline and helps them provide the right support to their buyers at the right time.For example, your sales process should prescriptively advise sellers that for a buyer to reach X stage, we need to accomplish ABC. Sometimes ABC is scheduling a demo of the product, but other times it can be a buyer confirmation (i.e. “Do you believe our product is the right solution for your team and are you going to recommend that your company more forward with this partnership?”)When building these gates, it’s important to keep your customer in mind. How do they buy? What steps do they typically take to buy your product? Who is typically involved? Your process should feel organic to them.
How I Define a Sales Process
The first two steps are awareness, followed by education. These are typically shared between marketing and outbound prospecting efforts from the sales team.Next comes qualification, which tends to be the biggest gate in a sales process as poor qualification can lead to missed opportunities or even worse...time wasted on bad deals! Really think about this step in your process, this should be your most refined step.Lastly comes the approval step(s). Depending on what you are selling, this could be as simple as working with 1 key budget holder and as complicated as needing sign-off from the CIO, CEO and BoD. Oh, and don’t forget about legal, security, finance, etc...Learn from your early customers so you can prepare your sales team to handle this last step with finesse. The higher value, more technical sales will make this step drag out a bit, but if you are prepared for the components of your approval process, then you can shorten that delay.
My Biggest Takeaways
- Use the "3-2-1 Rule": Have 3 people, 2 departments, and 1 champion that you can always fall back on. This allows you to leverage alternative contacts when someone goes dark, or has unexpected leave. It also strengthens your case when getting to the approval stage when you are not single threaded into 1 department.
- Instead of looking at conversions at the top of the funnel, look at your conversion from stage to stage of your pipeline. For instance, where are you losing a majority of your deals? Knowing this can help you proactively improve your close rates as you are able to improve each stage process.
- Lastly, there are SO many incredible sales and marketing technologies out there today. But before you start buying technology to support your sales process, nail down your core KPIs (key performance indicators) and ensure that the technology you purchase supports those.Tips to Scale
- When building a team from the ground up, you need to seriously consider the profile of the seller you want to hire. You're NOT looking to hire mercenaries. Seasoned, president’s club, top 1% sales reps who know how to sell and expect big paychecks. You need to hire missionaries. Think “Swiss-Army-Knife” type of people, motivated by the mission of the company and being a part of the building / scaling process.
- Keep REALLY close to your first two customers
- This can be challenging because you may not know who your target market is
- Experiment and make iterative changes to your sales process with these buyers
- If you don't have enough customers, use LinkedIn and reach out to those that would fit your ICP (ideal customer profile). Try just asking for help, you might be surprised at how many respond.
- DO NOT get to 100% confidence before you scale
- If you're 70-80% confident that you have the right process, hire more people. As you scale, your process will change. Your market will change and your buyer will change. Be ready to adapt over time.
- If you are unsure if you should scale, this is my favorite gut check: Are your AEs start making commission checks that make you jealous? Like are THAT good? Yes? Then scale.