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Documenting Your Sales Process: A Guide for Startup Owners

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Anyone who’s ever worked in business knows sales are key to success. It’s important to know how to pull clients, close deals and create a sustainable sales flow to stay in the game. Low or sporadic sales can seriously harm a new startup, leading to losses or even a full shutdown.

One thing that differentiates high-performing organisations from less successful ones is their sales process. A standardised sales process can be the difference between your organisation succeeding or tanking.

You might have put off documenting your processes - it can be difficult to find time in the beginning when it’s all about long hours and trying to close deals. However, documenting the process allows you to scale knowledge as you grow and is crucial for all business aspects.

two people sitting in front of two laptops on a tableFree to use image from Unsplash

The benefits of documenting your sales process

Beyond the fact it allows for consistency throughout your team, there are a ton of benefits to be reaped from documentation. It can help with measuring customer satisfaction, and improve the consumer experience. Once you can effectively document the sales process you can:

  • Increase productivity as processes are clear, avoiding stumbling blocks
  • Get deeper insights into your customer base through audience profiles, segmentation and research
  • Make the training process
  • Give autonomy and ownership to your sales reps
  • Create detailed and accurate sales forecasts

Key steps of documenting the sales process

Think of your sales process as a series of standardised steps that outline the sales routine. It should encompass everything from outlining prospective customers to closing important deals. Let’s take a quick look at the seven essential steps that should be a part of your sales process:

  1. Prospecting. This is where your sales team attracts potential clients and leads. This can consist of cold calling, mass emails and other avenues.
  2. Qualifying. Your sales team will connect with leads and ascertain whether they’re likely to be interested in your business.
  3. Researching. It’s imperative to know your consumer well and this is where your sales team will research the leads and their pain points.
  4. Presenting. This is a demonstration of your core products/services. You can also note feedback on these by recording calls for the next step.
  5. Overcoming. Keep your clients’ feedback in mind and analyse their concerns.
  6. Closing. Your sales team will finalise the sale with the new client.
  7. Repeating. The standardised sales process will be repeated through effective communication for consistent results.

People sitting around a table with a mug, notebooks, and a laptopFree to use image from Pixabay

Tips for documenting an effective sales process

Here are some tips on how to document your sales process in an efficient way:

1. Create a working title

The title should be short and descriptive. It needs to be easy to find, and self-explanatory enough that your sales team can locate it whenever they need to refer back to it.

2. Make a flowchart

List down all the steps that are involved in your sales process. Think about how you lead consumers through the sales funnel, and all the elements this includes. This is your jumping off point, so add even the smallest details that you believe to be necessary, such as specific call routing options for customers abroad, or what exactly you note in your CRM after a call.

3. Add necessary tools

Do your sales reps use a script when they’re reaching out to consumers? Do you use a virtual phone line or email blasts? Is there a business agreement template you always follow? This is where you note down all the supporting tools that are included in your sales process.

This list should include both the software you use, and any templates or scripts. It’s important to be accurate as you can reflect on it and tweak it as you go to continuously improve your sales process.

4. Identify your leads

Once you’ve outlined your basic steps and the tools you need, it’s time to create a picture of how you find potential leads. The sales documenting process can help you with sales prospecting. Do your research and add information about the kinds of leads your sales team should target. How should they find them? You can create guard-rails and parameters that outline exactly the kind of consumer that you need to reach out to.

5. Elaborate on outreach

Detail all of the steps that your sales team uses through the sales process to reach out to potential leads. Do you have standard methods of approach? You may refer back to tools you listed earlier, especially templates that you might use for an initial contact. Use the research done on consumers to add optimal outreach options for this step.

Person sitting with a laptop in front of themFree to use image from Unsplash

6. Present solutions

Create a breakdown of all possible solutions to common and rare problems that your sales team might encounter. You’ll have a better understanding of this once you’ve run your sales process automation with customers a few times. This is the ‘FAQ’ part of the document that helps your sales reps make effective sales, as they’ll always have an answer ready.

7. Establish important KPIs

This is useful to help your sales team understand their progress and measure their success and/or failure. Lay out what metrics you will use to measure your sales and take your team through them so they can track their progress.

8. Add follow up and progress

Write down all the ways that your sales team can follow up with consumers after they’ve made the initial sales pitch - and the optimal frequency of approach. This part of the document can include any methods that you have for assuring consumers should they have questions or objections throughout the process. You can add a list of pre-made questions for your team to consult.

9. The closer

Write down, in full detail, about how the sales team can close a sale. This is where they will flip leads into loyal customers and is crucial for boosting revenue. You can add templates that you’ve created here or add the process that’s worked best for your business.

Experimentation is key

There’s a reason that marketers and salespeople value metrics so highly. When you start out by setting KPIs, you can track your performance accurately and see what works (and what doesn’t). It’s important to keep studying performance and analysing key numbers so you can create a successful sales strategy. Documenting your sales process will never be a static job. The sales process keeps changing as the company grows, so make sure you keep updating your document as you go!

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