Why your business needs a standardised sales process
Your sales team needs technology to win
Why you need a qualified prospecting process
How to manage your leads
A sales process your team can adopt
Measuring your conversion rates for success
Sales process tips and advice
Why your business needs a sales process
Companies and organisations that sell high-value products or services to other businesses (B2B) need a standardised sales process. Not just to ensure that your sales organisation work harmoniously and efficiently, but also because it’s:
- a scalable, predictable and easy way to learn for new hires
- easier to measure which parts of the process work, or don’t work well
- easier to quickly filter out bad-fit prospects
- timesaving and enables you to qualify out
- a simple, structured and pleasant buying experience for the customer
Often these types of sales cycles are lengthy, so a documented sales process keeps everyone on target to manoeuvre your prospect down the funnel. In addition to this, there are often multiple stakeholders (decision-makers) involved, so again a well-structured sales process and the right technology combine to great success.
your sales team needs technology to win
Sales teams need a CRM
You can’t expect a successful sales (or marketing, or customer success) team to keep client contacts on excel spreadsheets that can be deleted or corrupted.
With so many options from free to paid available in the market, simply saying “too much choice” prevents you from adopting a cloud-based CRM is unacceptable. It’s a no-brainer in today’s business world. If you still need convincing, check out how they can help your team here.
Use Chrome for more than browsing for prospects
Chrome has thousands of extensions that you can add to the browser to help with the sales process.
A good salesperson knows that the likelihood of professionals on LinkedIn using their work email address is remote, typically because people change jobs a lot so it’s easy to use personal email addresses. This is the same for a company website. That’s where these easy to install Chrome sales extensions come in handy.
The Chrome extensions below are for finding prospects contact information.
- Hunter.io - With Hunter for Chrome, you can immediately find whom to contact when you visit a website. Along with the email address.
- LeadIQ - Simply visit any website, click the Scout button in your browser bar, and we’ll instantly search our database of over 100 million contacts to find people working at the company.
- Lusha - We enrich your content by adding business information, such as contact information, positions and company information enabling you to contact your leads directly from our extension.
- Clearbit Connect - Find employee email addresses for any company and display useful contextual data for anyone who emails you.
- Contact Out - Contact Out adds a powerful overlay on top of LinkedIn profiles. You'll see phone numbers, email addresses, and links to social media profiles. All emails provided are triple verified and 97% accurate.
- Snovio Email Finder - Find email addresses from LinkedIn profiles or websites. Validate email addresses with email verifier and message with Email Sender.
These Chrome extensions are for establishing what technology prospects are using; brilliant for SaaS, tech and IT support salespeople.
- Builtwith Tech Profiler - The BuiltWith Chrome Extension lets you find out what a website is built with by a simple click on the Builtwith icon! Upon looking up a page, BuiltWith returns all the technologies it can find.
- Whatruns - WhatRuns extension is one click away for you to find technologies used on any website you visit. From Developer Tools and Ad Networks to WordPress Plugins and Themes. You can follow websites so that you get notified when they use new technologies or remove existing ones.
These extensions are integral to building a standardised sales process for any B2B team. But that isn’t all you need to consider…
Sales automation platforms: the what and why
Research suggests that sales reps only spend one-third of their day making sales calls. On a standard 35 hour week, that's a whopping 23.5 hours on non-revenue generating activity. That means over the course of a 4-week month, your average sales rep spends just under 93.5 hours not trying to generate revenue!
You can scale that for yourself for your own team with a simple calculation of 23.5 x the number of salespeople in your team per week or 93.33 x the number of reps in your team per month.
Does that sound like a wise use of their time? Could this be contributing to the potential unproductive 40-60 hour weeks some of your reps work?
By standardising and automating you give your team the best chance of scaling sales, removing dead wood from the operation and hitting monthly targets and surpassing them. Successful sales teams need more automation not less, but they need more personalisation too; automation and email do not replace the telephone and video. Also, you cannot win solely on inbound leads, especially if you don’t have personas in place or processes in place.
Which sales automation platform should you choose?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer to this question. There are a number of factors that could prevent or prohibit your adoption of any particular platform. Costs (pricing), services (ability to fully support your requirements), integration into your current tech stack, the ability to future proof against further change and so on.
In this section, we are going to share with you some of the technology available to you.
Sales automation tools
HubSpot Sales Hub - This is our recommendation for those wishing to automate and personalise outreach (prospecting) as well as follow up and closing deals. You can track your deal engagement, design automated outreach sequences, create email templates for quick access as well as integrate sales assets into emails and track their engagement rates.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator - LinkedIn claims to be the number one sales prospecting platform, and we are in no doubt if you are looking to contact decision makers directly and beat the gatekeeper. However, a lot of users aren’t regularly checking their inboxes and are often using personal email accounts when they sign up for their LinkedIn accounts. But you can see organisational structures on the LinkedIn company pages and therefore you can identify whom you may need to speak to for your sales process to kick in. Several of the links in this paragraph link to other content that will help you navigate sales navigator and LinkedIn better; we suggest you read those too.
Seamless.ai - Seamless extracts contact details from both LinkedIn profiles and company websites. As it syncs neatly with both HubSpot and Salesforce CRM tools, it’s perfect for a structured B2B sales process adding immediate value. In addition to the tech, the team at Seamless also provide sales scripts and workflows designed to help your reps smash their sales goals.
Vidyard - Vidyard is our go-to choice for adding video into your sales process. With so many emails being sent when prospecting you need to stand out from the crowd. Vidyard and its screen recording and off-screen recording let your sales team show how the product or service would improve the target's results.
Everstring - All of the tools listed here can help with your sales process, but some more enterprise sales organisations require qualified data and Everstring will do that, especially for ABM campaigns. Not only does it provide contact data, but it also has intent data giving more insight into your prospects behaviour can help you to close more sales.
This suite of tools is something we suggest, but more research into your own specific needs may be required to finalise a frictionless toolkit for your standardised sales process. Finally:
Leadfeeder - This is a great platform for tracking who is visiting your website. With easy integration to our HubSpot CRM, we really enjoyed the setup experience and it’s far cheaper than Lead Forensics and similar software. It also integrates to Pipedrive, Salesforce and Zoho, so a great option if you want to build a better data picture about your company's performance online.
And whilst on the subject of websites, which are a key part of your sales and onboarding strategy, let’s look at the CMS, content management systems the burgeoning sales organisation should consider.
Choosing the right website CMS matters
So far we have discussed CRMs, Google Chrome extensions and sales automation software. All have their individual parts to play in the standardised sales process. But those systems and platforms are designed to help you find and attract the right prospects and customers. And with this in mind, we logically have to talk about the company website - the heart of the B2B business’ online presence.
With a large number of available CMS systems available on the market, it can be difficult for many to decide which is the right one for your business. The more common WordPress, Joomla, Drupal choices are well documented and obvious choices, but each has its limitations, each requires developers with specialist skill sets. Some larger organisations may be using Craft CMS or Adobe for their websites and if you sell business products, potentially Magento or Shopify. As a HubSpot agency, we recommend their platform for pricing, ease of use and support.
This decision doesn’t solely depend on the sales team; marketing in particular as well as customer success should be integral to the conversation and outcome.
Which web chat tools should you consider?
From WhatsApp to Facebook Messenger and more enterprise solutions like Drift, webchat is something buyers of all generations now come to expect. Noting that HubSpot has it inbuilt, let’s look at the other market players.
Drift - Drift is one of our favourites; in fact, we have Drift in our own tech stack as well as HubSpot’s chatbot. Drift for us is better as it’s designed solely for the purpose - it’s not part of a wider marketing or CRM solution like HubSpot or Zoho.
We love the Drift chatbot pages, where you can upload your assets like video and ebooks but have pre-designed sales chat conversations ready to qualify readers for the viability of the sale. This matches our “beyond the landing page” marketing strategy, which aims to reduce friction in funnels by carefully removing forms and enabling sales.
This tool also works extremely well in ABM strategies.
Intercom - Intercom is a direct competitor for Drift, although there are differences in the service options, e.g. Drift has an academy and scaling pricing. Intercom is different in that they have several add-on bundles, further increasing subscription prices to get to their ABM offering.
Zendesk - Zendesk is a platform that has chat as part of its overall product offering. It has CRM and separate sales and marketing suites for a variety of budgets. Certainly worthwhile considering and a great alternative to any of the chat platforms mentioned above.
Why you need a qualified prospecting process
Sales prospecting: many “experts” claim it’s all about inbound leads to close, others say you can’t win the sales game without looking for potential customers (prospects).
This is why your sales organisation needs a qualified prospecting process that is scalable, replicable and measurable. Here’s one way of approaching it.
- Personas - every salesperson needs to have identified their buyer personas and the customer's typical buying process. Top sales professionals will know who buys, who influences and therefore whom to target.
- Prioritisation - by identifying the right opportunities, be that industry, business type or size, revenue, or location - planning to target the companies most likely to buy your product or service keeps your activities lean and fruitful.
- Research - successful sales reps choose their research areas carefully. Be that leading industry reports or newsletters, trigger events on LinkedIn or Google Alerts or even by connecting with others in the industry.
- Preparation - being prepared isn’t simply a list of procedures to follow. You have to have the right mindset, so listen to sales podcasts or read inspiring sales books. You need to have a routine: practice list building Monday, outreach Tuesday and follow up phone calls on Thursday. A good routine helps you refine what works best for you as an individual and leaves room for meetings on Wednesdays and Fridays.
- Vidyard - although we have touched upon this as a suitable sales automation tool, using it in the prospecting process can help set you apart from the crowd. You can also track views, create calls to action and use it as you progress down the sales funnel. In those rare occasions where a lead asks to send a proposal, screen record your proposal and send a video so you can track reading activity and reach out at an opportune time. It reduces the cold prospecting barrier and is an easy way to prospect, stand out and immediately add value to potential end clients.
How to manage your leads
After all that prospecting, how you manage your leads is just as important. Let’s look at a process you can easily adapt.
SLA - Service level agreement
If your sales team is receiving high numbers of inbound leads, then you need to set a standard SLA to respond within 5 or 10 minutes. Note whilst 10 minutes doesn’t seem like a long time, recent studies show those responded in under 5 have the highest chance of securing a deal.
Ensure that your CRM is connected to the company website and any landing pages so that you can track your prospects’ activity across your digital channels. If your CRM also tracks the documents you share with your customers and prospects, you can always gauge buying signals. Look for an activity like recent page visits, especially your pricing or service/product description pages.
Using tasks and workflows
A good CRM, when combined with either its native or 3rd party sales automation software, should enable your sales team to set tasks and reminders in their calendars to follow up. It should be standard to attach call data to contact records for continuity of progression for the sales reps and if they are out of office or leave.
Workflows can minimise the heavy admin around the outreach and nurturing of qualified leads.
Define your prospecting sequence
For your highly rated leads, you should attempt at least 10 times to connect. A mix of calls (telephone), voicemails, Vidyards and email sequences. It’s now suggested it takes 12 touchpoints to convert an opportunity.
Lower rated opportunities should have less focus. Try halving your process for the highly-rated leads; two calls, voicemails or Vidyards and three email sequences.
Newly qualified leads from website or landing page conversions must be connected within 5 minutes by phone, voicemail or Vidyard and enrolled into an automated email sequence.
Finally, if you are checking recent behaviour in your CRM as a trigger point, review the time spent on pages, when you last contacted them and if it’s a reasonable amount of time, reach out and connect.
A sales process your team can adopt
This is our most definitive sales enablement framework for B2B sales reps. Whether you are a business or sales development rep, this is an executable plan you can action.
Predefined sales stages
- Stage 1: Sourcing and prospecting
- Stage 2: Connect call
- Stage 3: Discovery call
- Stage 4: Solution presentation
- Stage 5: Signed contract and kick-off
Stage 1: Sourcing and prospecting
- Standardise your prospecting goals. Identify good-fit companies and ensure you speak to the right people.
- Define your actions. Decide who you do and don’t want to work with and build up a continuously strong pipeline.
- Manage your needs. Weekly time dedicated to sourcing and prospecting.
- Actionable tip: Book calling slots in your calendar for following up on outreach activity.
Stage 2: The connect callYour goal is to establish an initial relationship, assess mutual fit, and create credibility and trust.
- Structure your research into your prospect so you can begin the qualifying process and move to the next steps.
- Quantify the need and challenges of the prospect and get a sense of the timeline and uncover urgency to solve the problem.
- Ask your prospect to complete some homework. It’s a good way to see if they are committed to solving the problem. If they don’t complete it before your call, push back and ask that it’s completed before you move on to the next stage.
- Tips to consider: Automate your follow up, make your process unique to differentiate from other sales plays, and create a useful questionnaire for homework. The outcome should always be either a scheduled discovery call or you are parting ways. Don’t waste time on bad fit prospects.
Stage 3: Discovery meeting
The goal of the discovery phase is to get a deep understanding of your prospects current process, systems, options and qualify for BANT (budget, authority, need and timeline) and GPCT (goals, priority, consequences and alternatives).
- Set the structure. Prepare well and set a clear agenda with objectives. Ensure you lead and steer the conversation and introduce pricing.
- Tip to consider: Run the meeting face to face or on a video call, NOT over the phone. Ensure you can see each other so you can see the focus or attention you are or aren’t getting. The outcome of the call is to move to a scheduled presentation or you are parting ways.
The exploratory call structure
The first stage of the exploratory call is to establish as much detail about the prospect's company or department as possible.
- Ask who are the customers, competitors, what differentiates them, how are they placed in their industry and so on.
- From the company to the department establishing departmental goals, prospects role and decision making power and how it affects the company's bottom line.
- Then you need to establish the BANT. Ask questions about their problems, how they are approaching solving this, what’s worked and failed, what budget has been allocated to it, what budget can be further allocated to it. Question them on the immediacy to solve the issue and in which timeframe do they want to solve it.
- From BANT to GPCA: Find out what the prospects personal, departmental and organisational goals are. What is the priority for each problem to be resolved, the consequences of inaction and what the alternatives to you are?
Stage 4: Solutions presentationKeep your goal in mind at this stage. You haven’t sealed the deal because you are presenting and keep that in the forefront of your thoughts. On this call, you have to explain your blueprint and roadmap, articulate added value and present estimated ROI whilst handling objections.
- Your structure must have a clear agenda with mapped out deliverables to a timeline, presenting expected results. Request feedback at this stage and be prepared to handle objections.
- Understand your clients’ needs. Make sure that you know their numbers and educate and challenge them on your discovered pain points. Drive home where they need to pivot and improve. Again, be prepared to answer common or specific questions or objections.
- Tips to consider: Do the presentation onsite or online, but with ALL stakeholders and or decision-makers available. Have two or three pricing options available based on how aggressive they can be towards achieving their goals. Keep need, ambition and growth central at this stage. The outcome should be a verbal agreement to commit to a scheduled decision call or you’re parting ways. Difficult but even at this stage the prospect may not be fully committed.
Stage 5: Present your official quotationThe goal at this stage is to deliver the quote in person, not to send it over by email and wait for an opportunity to follow up.
- Start by clearly outlining services or products, deliverables and expected results vs pricing.
- Set the expectations, structure the call so that you accurately position next steps, including post-purchase onboarding, and handle any objections.
- State the need. Have all stakeholders involved, make it interactive and ask for input to get buy-in.
- Our tip: Do not write the full quotation unless you’re 99% sure it will be accepted. Create a presentation template per product or service in PowerPoint or Qwilr, something visual and engaging but easily edited. The desired outcome is that the quotation is either accepted or you are parting ways.
Measuring your sales conversion rates for success
The best salespeople will measure their activity. Not just for reporting the numbers, but for benchmarking their success in order to improve. Sales isn’t a career where you can get by, especially as most are tied to performance-based commissions.
Therefore knowing your numbers is key to improving your skills and your bank balance. Below is an example of a conversion funnel for a sales rep.
It's a lot of activity for relatively little reward, but if you are great at generating the leads, you can optimise a standardised sales process to improve your conversion rate through the funnel. With this in mind, it’s all up to you from here. How can you take this plan and make it your own?
Sales process tips and advice
120-day prospecting cycle
Think of your personal sales process in quarterly sprints. With each quarter you should expect to improve your results in sales and increased sales opportunities. If you aren’t using a standardised sales process, treat today as day one and focus on creating a 120-day prospecting cycle, which should look like this:
Document your sales process
In order to build a standardised sales process, you need to define it and then document it so that you scale it.
Remember, it's an iterative approach to be adopted by the whole sales team. As you discover new ways of closing or prospecting, having documents that historically show your iterations will help you understand how far you’ve come as a sales organisation. The graphic below shows how you can approach this.
BIAS works with product and service organisations to improve customer experience, lead generation and customer acquisition. Please feel free to contact us via our website, on the phone 0203 637 4426 or book a meeting.