Sales Pipeline and Process

Sales Pipeline and Process

Sales is a marriage of art and science. Setting up a healthy pipeline and designing a solid Sales process is essential to making it a scalable and smooth operation from the get-go.

60% of B2B companies lack a well-defined sales process so putting one in place will give you the competitive advantage you need to grow your business.

What is a Sales Process?

“Sales process” refers to a repeatable set of steps your sales team takes with a prospect to move them from early stage to a closed customer. The common stages of the sales process include:

1) Prospect
2) Connect
3) Research
4) Present
5) Close

1) Prospect

Prospecting is the process of sourcing new early stage leads to begin a sales process with.

It may involve online research to find new prospects, or researching into an existing database of contacts.

2) Connect 

Initiating contact with those early stage leads to gather information and judge their worthiness for moving forward.

3) Research 

Learning more about a prospect and their company as they progress through the sales process can help sales reps offer a more tailored experience, and improve the likelihood that a deal will close.

4) Present 

A typical stage of many sales processes is to run a formal presentation or demonstration of what is being sold. This stage is time consuming, so it typically comes deeper in the sales process and only for well-qualified prospects.

5) Close 

This stage refers to any late stage activities that happen as a deal approaches closing. It varies widely from company to company, and may include things like delivering a quote or proposal, negotiation, achieving the buy-in of decision makers, and other actions.

Need for a Sales Process

The reason salespeople need a process is simple: It’s becausebuyers follow exact journeys. 

If a salesperson isn’t following along, they’re going for the close when the buyer is much further back in their journey. That’s a rapidly lost sale.

A sales management system helps you develop or hone your sales process, to make it as effective as possible. It is a series of steps that every buyer takes—and that every seller, to be successful, should take along with them.

Sales Pipeline Management
What is a Sales Pipeline?

A sales pipeline a visual snapshot to show you how much business you will attempt to close in a given week, month or year. In essence, a sales pipeline provides an overview of current sales opportunities.

It is a systematic and visual approach to selling a product or service that is helpful in showing you exactly where the money is in your sales process.

You’ll be able to understand at which stage any deal is, whether you have enough deals on the board to achieve your goals and quota, as well as understand whether certain deals need special attention.

[Optional] The Sales Pipeline Revealed
Sales Pipeline Management 
Here’s an example of what a typical Sales Management Dashboard looks like.
Enlarged version: http://bit.ly/2jUEknV
Tasks of a Salesperson

1) Prospecting: searching for prospects, or leads;

2) Targeting: deciding how to allocate their time among prospects and customers;

3) Communicating: communicating information about the company’s products and services;

4) Selling: approaching, presenting, answering questions, overcoming objections and closing sales;

5) Servicing: providing various services to the customers – consulting on problems, rendering 
technical assistance, arranging financing, expediting delivery;

6) Information Gathering: conducting market research and doing intelligence work;

7) Allocating: deciding which customers will get scarce products during product shortages.

Prospecting

A healthy sales pipeline is the most important jump start to good sales performance.

Whether you are part of an organization with a Sales team where qualified leads are always delivered to salespeople by Marketing or you have to do your own prospecting, one rule always applies: quality over quantity.

Another great tool for prospecting and building up a pipeline is LinkedIn. Of course you’ve heard of it, but what haven’t you heard?

LinkedIn Sales Navigator feature is a great way to zoom in on an ideal client profile. The best part of Sales Navigator is the ability to pull up prospects based on their tenure.

[Optional] Accelerate your pipeline with LinkedIn Sales Navigator
Chris Haroun, in his book ‘101 Crucial Lessons They Don’t Teach You in Business School’ suggests an interesting approach – using the InMail feature of Sales Navigator to send direct messages to selected parties you want to get in contact with.
Importance of Lead Generation
What is Lead Generation?

It’s a process of aligning sales and marketing where marketing runs lead generating campaigns, sets up a lead scoring framework in a marketing automation system and hands off prospects to salespeople.

Today, Marketing is responsible for generating leads, and this includes a fairly sophisticated set of activities.

These activities include:
– getting the profile of the prospective client right
– automating the process of email marketing
– setting up various call-to-actions on the site to capture leads

These leads are then score based on the stage of the buyer’s journey, and once the best prospects are identified – they’re handed off to Sales for a follow up.

Sales Velocity

There are four factors that impact how much you sell – these elements make up the Sales Velocity Equation.

Your Sales Velocity is a function of:
(A) the number of sales opportunities you work
(B) the average deal value
(C) your win rate
(D) the length of the sales cycle

Simply put, you want to increase A, B and C and reduce D. If you increase A, B and C by 10% and reduce D by 10%, then you increase your sales velocity by 47%.

Enlarged image: http://bit.ly/2kgmPPM
The Lead Generation Process

1) Teach customers how to improve a business result.

2) Lead the customer through an objective evaluation process.

3) Close the sale using the Relative Value Equation:
RV = BR + RM@FMP *

When done effectively, sales closure rates move from the estimated 3-10% to a healthy 70% or more.

* RV= Relative Value
BR = Business Return
RM = Risk Mitigation
FMP = Fair Market Price
Close When You’re Sure

There is an old saying that closing a sale should be like proposing to your potential spouse — you shouldn’t be worried about the answer, and if you are, then you’re doing it too soon.

Recent Changes in the Sales Process

– Buyers no longer need to talk to salespeople for product or service information.

– More decision makers from more business units are involved with B2B sales.

– Difficulty creating differentiation between the top 3-5 competitors.

– Intensified scrutiny and purchasing control.

– Barely 4% of the top sales reps are still managing to make the relationship approach work.

The real decision makers in a sale are more concerned with knowing how your product or service will:

(a) improve their sales or market penetration
(b) reduce their operational cycle time
(c) improve first-time quality
(d) enhance compliance
(e) improve profitability and/or cost reduction

Why Sales people make great CEOs

There’s a popular belief that sales people make great CEOs. Certain personality traits and acquired skills make a sales person a perfect leader:

– the ability to effectively communicate and persuade
– a strategic view on things
– drive to keep the company moving forward

[Optional] From Sales Rep to CEO: 5 Reasons Salespeople Make Great Leaders
Jim Rohn