Selling isn’t easy. It’s hard enough for one person to guide deals from prospecting all the way to close and even more challenging to build an entire team that can do so effectively. To ensure everyone’s on the same page, you need a structured sales process that guides your team and builds consistency among them.
But building an optimized process presents difficulties in itself — that’s where it helps to learn from companies that have successfully leveraged process efficiencies to drive growth. So here we offer 5 sales process best practices we’ve learned internally and from other high-growth companies:
5 Sales Process Best Practices from Leaders of High-Growth Companies
1. Define standardized sales process stages.
This point may sound basic, but a sales process can only drive positive results if everyone agrees on what each stage means. This includes codifying the actions reps should take at each step to propel a deal toward closure. Above all, it’s crucial to solidify the difference between a “lead” and a “qualified opportunity,” or the handoff between marketing and sales. Sometimes these transitions occur at the same point. Sometimes they don’t.
2. Support your process with technology.
In our recent webinar, “Fuel High Growth with Efficiency,” Torrent CEO Daniel McCollum emphasized the importance of investing in technology to reinforce your core processes. You should expect your processes to impact your technology, in fact. Mapping out your sales process in a CRM like Salesforce’s Sales Cloud, in particular, helps to cement it for your team. It can prevent individual reps from straying from the defined process through system validations and guide reps through it with automations.
Logging all of your reps’ opportunities in a single platform also helps your team measure KPIs like conversion rates and account value, which makes it possible to…
3. Work backward to align sales and marketing.
Once you’ve measured these KPIs, Chris Woodard, Tenfold’s VP of Growth, recommends using this data to calculate your marketing team’s goals based on revenue targets.
Once you have data on your conversion rates at each step of your sales process, you can determine your leading marketing indicator and align it with your sales metrics. You might even choose to compensate your team based on it. Doing so will “remove excuses” from both sides of the marketing-to-sales hand-off.
4. Invest in an account-based strategy.
Derek Grant, VP of Sales at SalesLoft, highlights an account-based approach as one of his top sales process best practices. He notes that high-growth companies are 2.5x more likely to pursue account-based strategies. Although Grant explains that many businesses don’t adopt one fully, the approach isn’t overly complicated. It just involves “naming the account you’re going to go after and then doing whatever’s necessary to be able to get into that account and win that business.” To this end, Grant recommends that your team identifies 1% of your accounts as win-at-all-costs targets and approaches them with highly personalized messaging to bring them into your community.
Grant adds that this strategy also helps align sales and marketing teams because it ensures that both teams’ messaging reaches the same ears.
5. Keep growth and process in balance.
As stated above, the goal of a defined sales process is higher growth. But this play serves as a double-edged sword for some. McCollum mentions that your company’s growth will naturally pull you away from your process. Or it will at least necessitate a change in process as you scale. So although growth may represent the underlying goal, you need to consider it in balance with your process. Or else today’s growth may destroy tomorrow’s.
Grant explains one way of striking this balance: Building scalability into onboarding and coaching. Many companies don’t think about these factors when they design their sales process — that may be a mistake. Although they might fall under different functional teams, they reinforce and sustain your sales process.
So, he underscores the importance of investing in onboarding and enablement resources that can help you expand headcount without forcing your sales managers to train each new rep. On the coaching front, while the importance of 1:1 coaching rhythms still stands, consider supplementing them with scalable coaching practices such as group coaching meetings and content libraries (you can even use videos of your own successful sales calls in your training library).
Interested in more sales process best practices and other growth tips? Click below to watch our on-demand webinar on fueling growth through efficiency.