A good sales process in B2B is built on milestones that supports customers elevation through the sales funnel. From your gross list of potential sales leads to the final sales closing.
In this article I will go through the seven best ways to build a good sales process in B2B sales that I know.
First, a short recap what a good sales process is.
Read more what makes a good sales strategy.
A good sales process is built as a customer relationship journey
In my experience, a good sale process is built as a customer relationship journey. Not as a ‘call them, meet them and close them’ process.
Expressions such as ‘always be closing’ no longer has a place in modern B2B sales with knowledgeable but pre-occupied prospects.
A well build B2B sales process is built as a customer relationship journey. You identify leads and their pain points. You deliver value and build trust. Over time you earn credibility and become relevant to be considered as a supplier.
Look at a sales process as a relationship routine to deliver value that can be insights, know-how or benchmarks. If your prospects don’t follow your sales process, you probably do not deliver relevant value to them. You have not understood their pain point.
In a good sales process, you’re ready to sell when the customer is ready to buy. You do not push for a closing. You do make sure however that you are present, trusted, credible and relevent when the time has come to invest.
So, let’s dig into the seven best ways to build a good sales process.
The 7 best ways to build a good sales process
A good sales process has a purpose to sell while acknowledging that you first need to build trust, credibility and relevance. ‘Always be closing’ does not work in B2B sales, nor does endless socializing as a relationship tool.
So, these are the 7 best ways to build a good sales process:
- Focus on the right sales prospects in your sales process.
- Use marketing and semi-automation for early-stage prospects.
- Makes sure you deliver value throughout the sales process.
- Identify which leads that are hot, and which leads that remain cold.
- Avoid becoming customer support, that’s another task for another team.
- Measure where you have your leads and salespeople in your sales process.
- Aim to close, but only when the time is right.
Focus on the right sales prospects in your sales process
You will know if your team work on the right sales prospects if sales value relative sales resources is prioritized. You do not want your salespeople to spend time on small sales with little up-sell potential. Regardless how easy those deals might be to close.
Cashflow is generated from sizeable revenues with healthy margins, from the right type of customers. Your sales shall not focus on number of deals (only) or gross margin percentages (only).
Use marketing and semi-automation for early stage prospects
You can’t serve all prospects hands-on, you need to respond to early stage prospects with marketing and semi-automation.
Use short template emails to send additional pre-made information. Use different template emails to follow up with pain point and application questions.
The most productive sales executives spend limited time on the many early stage leads. As leads becomes fewer elevating through your relationship journey sales funnel, more time can be spent on those leads. A few of your leads will eventually become hot leads and here is where your hands-on sales focus needs to be.
Old school salespeople make personal meetings their relationship journey, but that does not work well any longer. Prospects are much more knowledgeable these days with Google, YouTube and online specialist courses and forums. Few prospects have the time to socialize with salespeople and you need to deliver gradual value to become relevant. That is what the sales process is all about.
Make sure you deliver value throughout the sales process
Delivering value throughout the process is key to build a good sales process. There are only so many social calls or meeting request you can make.
Focus on gradual delivery of customer value to build trust. Small but valuable insights, know-how or benchmarks that relates to you prospects pain points.
Delivering value to your prospects is how you can distinguish yourself from the competition and build credibility and relevance. The best way to build a good sales process to be trusted, credible and relevant when the sales prospect is ready to buy.
Identify which leads that are hot, and which leads that remain cold
You need to distinguish which leads are hot, and which leads that remain cold. You can’t serve them all equally. Some leads might be curious but may only be there to learn or to benchmark. Entertain them, but use automation sending them brochures, guidelines, white papers and application questionaries.
You want your team to prioritize and spend most of their personal time on their hot sales leads. The level of engagement from your sales leads will indicate how serious they are. Sales leads engagement also indicate how well you understand their pains and how relevant your possible solution might be.
Single-sided engagement from your side is a clear indication that your sales process does not work.
If your sales leads do not engage with you, then you miss the target. A good sales process helps you understand the true pain points of your sales leads. A well-built sales process also helps you to identify and prioritize hot sales leads.
Avoid becoming customer support, that’s another task for another team
I had a case where we identified customer support to be the challenge to sales growth. The sales team was using the sales process but there was no closing done.
A deeper study of the daily work of the sales team revealed interesting insights. The sales team spent most of their time replying to customer challenges. No surprise that the sales team was highly regarded by the customers while no new sales was done.
A good sales process focuses on delivering value to build trust, credibility and relevance and to identify the purchasing moments. That can be initial sales or up-sales.
You have built a focused, efficient and good process when you deliver on the seven steps mentioned here. The sales process does not include customer support or customer success tasks. Those are other tasks for another team.
Measure where you have your leads and salespeople in your sales process
You can measure the efficiency of your sales process keeping track on where prospects are in your sales funnel.
Many B2B sales teams defines their sales funnel in eight or ten steps. The first step being a not yet prospected lead. You need plenty of them. The last step being the closing of the sales.
Track which prospects that elevate through your steps in your sales funnel. The further they go, the deeper your relationship and hence trust, credibility and relevance.
Traffic lights can be a good indicator for hot leads. Red indicates a lead is getting colder. Yellow can mean the lead needs your attention and green means sales is on track.
Aim to close, but only when the time is right
No one likes a bugger. You build relationships with your prospects to understand their true pain points, deliver gradual value to become relevant to them. You will only be considered a supplier when all that is done, and time has come to make a purchase.
‘Always closing’ is a bad tactic in B2B sales. I can understand frustration and the ambition to grow sales having a great product.
The brutal reality is that prospects are not there to serve you, it’s you who shall serve them.
Enterprise customers has many options. The most common one being to do nothing. Think of it. There is a good chance that your sales leads have other prioritize or other more pressing pain points than yours. Regardless how good your product might be.
While building a relationship with your leads you not only build trust you also educate them on their options. Eventually they will be ready to make a purchase decision, if you have identified their most pressing paint point.
‘Always be closing’ might work as a sales process in B2C sales, with less costly goods and non-critical items. However, you need to build a good sales process if you sell critical components or something that impact customers processes.
Hopefully above seven ways to build a good sales process has been helpful. Viewing sales as a relationship journey to build trust, credibility and relevance has proven successful to many tech companies in B2B sales.
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