The Ultimate Sales Process Template for 2021

Have you ever met a sales rep who bragged about his ability to “just wing it” and “go with the flow?”

Chances are, his performance wasn’t all that consistent. Sure, he might get lucky every so often, but that kind of free-flowing “process” is hardly reliable – or scalable. Spread that attitude among the rest of the sales team, and you’ll have a company that can’t meet its targets.

Having a formal and documented sales process is much more efficient, practical, and sustainable than relying on one person’s instincts – no matter how well-honed. 

What’s a sales process?

A sales process defines how a company’s sales team should prospect, qualify leads, handle objections, and close deals. It functions as a guide or reference point for existing sales reps, and as a training tool for new ones.

Why is a documented sales process important?

A documented sales process sets your team up for success. With it, you’re ensuring that all of your sales reps are giving prospects a consistent experience. The sales motion is streamlined, meaning all of your reps will know exactly what to do next at any given point in the funnel – whether they’re fresh graduates or long-time sales veterans. 

This translates into:

  • More productive sales teams
  • Easier training
  • More accountability
  • More accurate forecasting
  • Increased revenue

But this is where many sales managers stumble. They know it’s a good idea to have a sales process, but are at a loss where to begin. 

This is where a sales process template can come into play.

Working from a sales process template

Every organization will have a slightly different sales process based on their capabilities, their target market, and their organizational culture. The sales process template functions as a sort of skeleton – a framework upon which you can customize and tweak your process to suit your own needs. 

Below we’ve listed the different steps an effective process requires. You can use this as a jumping-off point to create your own sales process. Feel free to add or remove whatever steps you feel are necessary. You can even use it to create multiple processes to cover different scenarios. 

1. Prospect

This is where your sales or marketing team identifies potential leads, whether it’s through social media, creating lead generation campaigns, and the like.

Sales processes that rely on obtaining leads from third-party sources (such as referrals or buying lists from vendors) can skip this step. 

Related activities include:

  • Searching LinkedIn 
  • Attending trade shows
  • Attending networking events
  • Email outreach

2. Qualifying leads

Not all prospects are created equal. Some have the potential to be fantastic clients for your company, while others may turn out to be bad-fit customers and should be avoided. It’s not just a matter of whether or not the prospect can afford it – it’s about whether their needs match your product’s capabilities. Compare the prospect to any Ideal Customer Profiles (ICP) that you’ve created in advance. 

If your leads are being pre-qualified by another team, be sure to mention that in your documented process so the responsibilities are clear. 

Related activities include:

  • Research prospect online and on social media
  • Conduct discovery call

3. Connect

This will be your first “real” contact with the prospect once they’ve passed the qualifying stage. It can take place over different/multiple channels, whether over the phone, via email, social media DM, or in person. 

In some organizations, this is when the BDR/SDR hands the prospect over to the sales rep.  If there has been no prior contact with the prospect, making this a cold call, the sales rep may have to take a more proactive or aggressive approach to connecting, and it may take several attempts. 

Related activities include:

  • Reach out attempts via different channels
  • Defining meeting specifics (location, channel, date/time)
  • Identifying and inviting key decision-makers 

4. Identify pain points 

This is where you dig deeper into a prospect’s situation and identify the areas in which they need help. Note that this doesn’t all need to happen during your initial call. You can accomplish this by either asking them effective questions that can draw the right information out of them, or by conducting surveys and providing questionnaires. 

Related activities include:

  • Preparing questions in advance based on prospect research
  • Interviewing decision-makers
  • Interviewing important stakeholders
  • Sending surveys and/or questionnaires

5. Conduct demo or free trial

Very few people will be willing to purchase a product they haven’t seen, and so you’ll probably have to provide a demo or free trial to get the prospect truly interested. 

Do your best to ensure that important stakeholders like a line manager and/or an end user get to see the demo. Many products purchased by executives fall flat because they didn’t get feedback from the people who will actually be using it. 

Related activities include:

  • Building trial environment to match a prospect’s use case
  • Scheduling free trial start and end dates
  • Defining list of users allowed to access free trial
  • Customizing demo script to match prospect needs

6. Handling objections and questions

Your prospect is likely to have questions and/or objections after the demo (you should be worried if they don’t). Some of them will be simple, and easily addressed using your team’s stock knowledge of the product, while others may require the assistance of a sales engineer or someone from the product team. 

When handling objections, it’s important for your sales reps to be honest. Don’t let them fall into the trap of saying what the prospect wants to hear just to make a sale. The truth will come out when the prospect finally gets to use the product for real. Many sales organizations have a policy of clawing back sales compensation if a customer churns soon after buying. 

Related activities include:

  • Consulting with Customer Success or Engineering
  • Having a follow-up call with a sales engineer
  • Adjust trial environment to address objections

7. Make offer

Once all objections have been handled to the prospect’s satisfaction, it’s time to draft up and issue a formal proposal. This proposal will include as many details as possible about the transaction, from what they’re paying to what they’re getting. 

Include details like:

  • Purchase amount
  • Applicable discounts
  • Number of licenses purchased
  • Renewal period
  • Level of support expected
  • Payment terms

The prospect may negotiate the terms, in which case the two of you will make adjustments until both parties are satisfied.

Related activities include:

  • Draw up formal proposal document 
  • Arrange meetings to discuss terms 
  • Document any questions and concerns

8. Close the deal

The deal can be considered closed when your sales rep and prospect agree on final terms and conditions. This is where contracts are drawn up and signed and POs issued. 

Depending on the situation, your team may have to do some last-minute encouragement to get a customer to close sooner if you’re trying to catch a quota period. Such encouragement includes offering incentives like a free month of service or a discount, or perhaps creating a sense of urgency. 

Related activities include:

  • Get approvals from client
  • Secure purchase order
  • Determine payment method and timeline
  • Clear contracts with legal

9. Deliver the product

The sale doesn’t end when the purchase is made. In fact, many deals fail after the contract is signed. 

Don’t let your sales team relax until after fulfillment has been completed to everyone’s satisfaction. This could range from the delivery of a physical product to gaining access to an online platform or software product. 

Related activities include:

  • Scheduling delivery of physical product (if applicable)
  • Handoff to customer success or implementations
  • Check-in calls to gauge levels of satisfaction

10. Cross-sell/upsell

It’s worth following up with the customer after they’ve been using the product for a while to see if there’s an opportunity to expand their usage of the product, whether by adding additional licenses or offering related products or services. 

Different organizations tackle this in different ways. Some would prefer that the customer success team handle this, while others have dedicated account management teams to expand existing customers. 

Related activities include:

  • Conducting a QBR to assess needs
  • Coordinating upsell campaign with customer success 
  • Reaching out to product for new features

Closing thoughts

If you want your sales team to consistently hit – or even exceed – quota, you will need at least one documented sales process. But it’s better to cover your bases and have multiple processes for different scenarios. 

By using our template to generate these sales processes, you’ll be able to create a comprehensive set of team guidelines so that your sales reps can be confident and know exactly what to do, no matter what situation they encounter. 

Contact us today to find out how to digitize your sales process and scale it to your company’s entire sales infrastructure with our industry-leading digital enablement platform.  

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Sales Enablement