Jul 20: The Definitive Guide on How to Create a Sales Process

Introduction

 



While this diagram shows in a nutshell what a founder needs to do to set up their sales process, there is a lot more to each step than what is illustrated.

Picture you are the CEO of a company and your product/service is amazing along with a stellar sales team.

Your team of rockstar salesmen gets together for a weekly meeting, and you signal them all to pull up their dashboards.

Without any mystery or room for error, your team informs you on exactly how many customers are in each stage of your sales funnel. You then discuss further on the strategies for closing the remaining amount of your SQLs to become qualified customers.

Worrying about forgetting to follow up with customers is never a concern of yours because your team already knows and can easily set follow up reminders.

While this is an ideal situation, countless companies are suffering from a broken sales process or a lack thereof one.

You are leaving money on the table by having a broken or incomplete sales process.

The longer you ignore the leaks in the funnel, worse it gets.

In this post I’ll show you how Johnathan Holland and I setup our framework of the Sales Process at our company Curexe.

Customer Personas 

This is the first step in building a sales process.

Think about the person who your product would best serve.

Answer these questions and you will find yourself with some fairly detailed customer personas that you can use to build lists off of:

  • What pain points do they have?
  • What is their position in a company?
  • Can they be a decision maker to complete a purchase?
  • Does your product cater to a demographic like age, gender, hobbies, beliefs?
  • Is your product consumer or business facing?

You might find that your personas can be grouped in main categories like their profession or age group along with their type of hobby.

You can use those groups and dedicate a lead list to each sub section of the persona and delve deeper into the problems each sect would have.

This will help you better understand them and while they are still a type of customer, your product might serve them in a different way.

Now that you’ve mapped out your customer personas, find a CRM and set up your deal tracking.

We like to use Hubspot, read more about check out chapter 4 of this post to learn how to setup your deal flow in Hubspot.

The Generic Sales Process 





Given that not every sales tactic will work in every setting, what works for sales in a SaaS business will be different than a Car Dealership.

The best way to build a sales process is to understand the generic sales process then mold it how you need to fit your business.

Hubspot also has a great post on the Sales Process that you can find here.

What does the generic sales process look like you may ask?

1. Prospect

Prospecting in the simplest form is finding potential people who may find use in your product. The right prospects have interest and will become a customer if engaged properly.

Other important aspects to acknowledge about prospecting:

  • important to understand customer pain points
  • testing messaging and personas you built to see if there is interest like you assume
  • first point of contact in the sales process

Write the initial email introducing yourself and convince them to take a call with you.

If they say yes to a call, then it’s time for the next step, the connecting.

2. Connect

During this phase the salesperson would have the introductory dialogue with the customer to better understand their situation.

The objective of the connection is to better understand the person and see if you are on the right track to finding the right people for your service.

When you have that conversation with the prospect don’t actually try to sell, get feedback on them and their pain points.

The initial connecting is just your way to get “in.” Now you can contact this person and it wouldn’t be soliciting because you built that connection prior.

3. Customer Research

This phase is where the sales rep does the deep digging to find out how they can provide value to the potential client.

By doing the extra research on who the decision makers on your list are, what they care about and the problems they are facing, you will have a better perspective on their needs as an individual.

You can also do some research on the individual on your list to see if there are some easy ways to make a strong connection with them.

What do they enjoy, do they have hobbies, any topics they are passionate about, what you find from Googling their name are some good questions to try and find information on while researching.

The point is to better understand who you are selling to so you can empathize with them and build an actual relationship with them instead of going in for the kill with a hard sale in a cold outreach.

4. Present

As a decision maker in a company how many times have you had a company reach out to you to book a call to do a demo of their product?

Probably countless times.

The objective of this stage is to get the person to agree to a meeting and demonstrate the benefits and usability of a product.

As a sales person you would also be answering any questions they might have about the product to make a decision to purchase.

5. Close

This is where the negotiation or final decision is made.

After you have done your research on the person and company to deeply understand them as a person and their needs in their role and showcased your product to demonstrate why it would be a benefit for them to purchase you ask the customer if this is something that they would be interested in purchasing

As negotiation ensues, you are either going to be battling objections they have and try to change their thinking or you will be giving them more information on the price they are paying, as well as any post purchase questions they might have.

And there you have it, an outline of the generic sales process.

No one company is going to be the same but its important to understand this model so you can see the similarities and differences of how your company operates.

Question is how does this map out comparatively to your company?

Curexe's Outbound Sales Process



1. A more humane approach to prospecting

Sales Experts like Sangram Vajre think that prospecting is a bad word because it’s so impersonal, following the trends in sales and marketing people are starting to see that best in the industry always give value first, are genuine and create valuable content for their audience.

Its where people become self-interested, when the sales opportunity goes south. Like when a sales rep goes straight for the sale on introduction, or reaches out multiple times with the same no-response and expects a different outcome.

After hearing him do a keynote at the last SalesTO conference I can’t help but agree also.

A better way to prospect is to go back to your customer personas and find people to do discovery calls with.

Instead of pitching people outright before you introduce yourself, email them and say something like:

Hello (name),

I’m wondering if you’d be open to an informal chat with me.

Specifically, I’d like to ask about how easy it is for you to (insert use case).

For example, (an example of a business using your product)

I’m working on a product to serve this need and your feedback would help me understand what businesses like yours really need/expect.

Many (specific industry) companies of {person’s company name}’s size do experience these concerns as well. That’s why I reached out on the chance you’re willing to have a short call.

Thanks for considering this and warm regards.”

It’s to the point, but not a pressured sales feel.

The objective is to introduce yourself, make them feel that their feedback is valuable, and give them a clear purpose of why you are reaching out.

Continue to prospect by calling other people who fit your personas and ask them about the problems they are facing to see if there is a similarity between what the customer you connected with said.

From there compile your findings and adjust your approach accordingly.

2. Build Your Lists

The act of list building itself, we are simply making a Google Sheet to identify the website of the company, point of contact, what their position is in the company, and the foreseeable contact methods.

All you have to do is take the customer personas you just made and dedicate a list to each one of them.

Remember with bigger ticket items you might be selling, the total amount of people on your list, a small percentage are going to be interested in your services and engage in communication with you to book a meeting, and an even smaller percentage of the people who book a call will make a purchase.

I’m telling this not to discourage you, but to let you know that going through the sales process with 50 customers a week isn’t going to yield you any meaningful results.

You have to overload your funnel with potential clients and go through the sales process as many times and as time efficiently as possible to boost your sales.

3. Tier Your Potential Clients and Do Amount of Research Accordingly

There are two main tasks to act on in stage 3 of our outbound sales funnel. Research and Tiering Customers in terms of priority.

Why do we tier our B2B customers?

Because we are an online platform for businesses to process international payments, there is a higher benefit for us to look for customers who frequently move volumes of money across different countries.

Meaning that businesses who exchange larger amounts currency are a better match for our services and naturally these kinds of customers are more valuable to us as well.

From what I learned from Sangram and Derek is that when selling B2B, people who are decision makers like CEOs, CTOs, CFOs, and CMOs get absolutely flooded with cold call sales and Linkedin outreach to try and convince them to use their companies product.

In fact, this is probably what they look like 20% of their day trying to ignore these aggressive salespeople:

After receiving so much attention from people trying to win their business and seeing the lengths people are going to to get their attention they start to form opinions on how people do outreach to them.

Some of these decision makers feel it’s disrespectful to cold call them.

It’s unexpected on their end, it’s unsolicited, they feel like the sales reps aren’t respecting their time.

Think about the amount of emails and notifications these people of notoriety are getting from everything going on in their world as they crush it at their business let alone whatever spammy message templates you might be using to get their attention.

I’ll tell you one thing, if they don’t know you and its an obvious hard sell, chances are they are going to not even read your message and delete it!

If you’re asking why then you need to go back and consider a little social etiquette because these decision makers are so tired of you and your awful unoriginal sales pitches.

Remember, it’s quality too. Not just quantity.

Smaller Companies might still have these executives, and perhaps at smaller companies they might be less busy.

That’s where tiering the research comes in.

On smaller clients you might be able to get a hold of these people and have a conversation easier and might have more leeway in having an open conversation about considering to use your product from the beginning.

On medium to large size businesses however, you will have to put more effort in for the decision makers to give you the time of day for a conversation.

If you refer back to point #3 in The Generic Sales Process you’ll remember that:

  • You have to be genuine in your outreach, these aren’t prospects and leads in your business in your machine. These are human beings.
  • The key is to develop a meaningful relationship with these people that is outside of just blatantly starting off “guns a blazing” with a hard sell without even an introduction.

4. Connect

To do outreach our way, your goal is to build these meaningful relationships to where you can speak to them later without it seeming like a solicitation every time you engage.

Do this by understanding them as an individual and caring enough to speak to them on things they care about and the general conversation of the pain points they are having(Not including how your product can help them).

You start off sincere and truly connect with them and chances are they come to you asking you what you do for a living instead of the other way around where you go out of your way to pitch.

Sometimes this may not happen but you will definitely have a better chance of your message not falling on deaf ears if you prefaced the pitch with meaningful conversation.

5. Lead nurture and build trust

Now that you have connected with the prospect once and have actually got on a discovery call with them, you have a new relationship you can build.

Keep reaching out to them occasionally with points of value and follow up with them to see if they are ready to talk about becoming a customer.

Many times if you can engage them well enough in the outreach with the things you learned, they will come to you asking to learn more about what you do instead of the other way around.

The act of lead nourishing is building rapport and trust by serving them content that is relevant to them which could help them solve problems they face.

Much to the point of what I learned from Sangram Vajre and sales guru Derek Grant over at SalesLoft who also did a keynote at the last SalesTO conference.

Now that we’ve gone over what our sales team does, we can now cover how we set up the foundation of our inbound sales.

 

Curexe's Inbound Sales 

Understanding our inbound strategy is a little more complicated because it isn’t like outbound in a way where you are doing traditional outreach.

You are dealing instead with potential customers coming to your site from a variety if different channels.

The goal for each visitor is to get them to either give us an email so we can engage them in further marketing messaging or create an account if they have a need for our product.

Here is a more detailed view of what we did at Curexe to have a solid Inbound Sales Process:

1. Have an Optimized Landing Page that Gives Visitors All the Information They Need On Our Company to Sign Up

Marketing Muscle to Train: Conversion Rate Optimization

According to Jakob Nielsen of the Nielsen Norman Group, “To gain several minutes of user attention, you must clearly communicate your value proposition within 10 seconds.”

Similarly, according to marketing experts at Crazy Egg, they suggest that most users don’t stay on a web page for more than a minute while performing a search query.

Chances are, if you haven’t captured their interest by the time the minute is up, you’ve lost that interest.

So for best practice, make sure your site communicates the value prop in the first 10 seconds, and have an email capture live within the first minute.

2. Use Softwares and Tools that Interact With Each Other To Put Users In the Appropriate Lists

Marketing Muscle to Train: Online Sales Funnels and General Digital Marketing

Here is a list of softwares we use for all of our inbound sales process, we’ll go over why and how we set up everything too.

There are a lot of comparable services so you don’t necessarily need to use these exact services. Just run a Google Search on each tool and pick the ones that make the most sense for you.

Literally we are lifting up the hood of our car and showing you the engine, I hope you enjoy!

  • Email Capture & Social Shares on Blogs- Sumo

Sumo is pretty standard in the industry, the purpose of this tool are two functions.

One function is the email popups, so we can adjust the time of the popup & what the messaging says.

Second function of Sumo is the Sumo sidebar on our blog posts that lets users share pages.

  • Email Marketing- Active Campaign

We’ve tried a couple different email marketing tools but decided that Active campaign was the best for our situation.

While Mailchimp is super easy to use and I encourage beginners to start with this, I like Active Campaign more for it’s intuitiveness and extra features.

Setting up automations like this picture is game changing.

I can have my whole entire customer journey in email sequences if I wanted!

We have triggers and conditional rules set to fire off specific sequences or give them unique messaging when we deliver certain emails while they choose to open or not open the previous, etc.

Of course you can do the traditional 1 off email campaigns as well, but for the sake of email customization and features, this is why Active Campaign is our go to for email marketing.

  • Make Softwares Send Relevant Information to Each Other- Zapier

Zapier is an important piece of our inbound sales funnel to make the automation of porting info between softwares seamless.

Here are the Zaps We Use

  • Sumo to Hubspot

With these Zaps, anyone who puts their email into our Sumo email capture the information automatically gets put into a new contact in Hubspot.

  • Hubspot New Contact to Active Campaign Lists

When someone signs up not only are they being made into a new contact on Hubspot, but that contact info Name and Email are being sent over to Active Campaign and is sorted into the appropriate list to receive certain email sequences.

  • Hubspot New User to Call Me and the Founder’s Phone to Notify Us

This is probably my favourite Zap I have.

Think about how killer this is.

The moment someone signs up on Curexe, Zapier gives us a call and notifies us that a new user has signed up.

And because the new user has been created automatically when they sign up I can go to the Hubspot app on my phone and give them a call!

  • Customer Relationship Management with Hubspot

Hubspot is our center for all information on our interactions with customers.

With this tool used properly, you can easily manage a giant amount of relationships without forgetting anything you spoke with them about.

Referring back to those Zaps from eariler..

So the flow went: Sumo Capture to Hubspot.

Meaning the information Sumo collected was copy and pasted into a Hubspot new contact without me doing anything.

From there I can pull up my phone and look at the new sign up from the Hubspot Mobile App to call them.

Calling the customer from the Hubspot Mobile App is pretty straight forward.

I simply cross reference the new user who signed up on the back end of Curexe and search that name in Hubspot and click on the phone icon to call.

The call isn’t anything intrusive, just a simple “Hey there, I noticed you just signed up on our platform and I just wanted to give you a quick shout to see if you needed any help or had any questions about Curexe.”

In addition, we are recording our calls with our clients and taking notes after the call is over.

So anything meaningful or something we need to follow up on will be left in the notes.

This proves to be very useful when managing tens of thousands of relationships with users so you can go to their profile, listen to the last conversation you had with them, along with any notes.

It leaves you in the sales process as always on top of your game and prepared for each encounter.

On top of all of this, if they don’t answer, I can put the users through an email sequence telling them I just called and left a voicemail that follows up with them.

By having all of this powerful task functionality at my fingertips with the way these automations work, we are literally saving so much time and headache so we can focus on more important things like developing relationships with our new clients!

We cannot more highly recommend Hubspot as a CRM to other business owners!

Now that we have gone over all of our softwares that we use to make our inbound sales funnel work, we will now go to the next step of our Sales Process.

3. Contact Our Users Who Sign Up

Sales Muscle to Train: Excellent Customer Service

We went over a little bit of this earlier when I was explaining how Hubspot and Zapier were related to the inbound funnel.

But here is why we even set that up: Excellent Customer Service.

If you went to a Bank and created an account with them would you have the founder call you in the first 30 seconds of signing up at 11:30 at night to greet you and ask if there was anything they could do to help you?

Absolutely not!

But since we are smaller we can go out of our way to provide that excellent service.

At Curexe we are easily accessible and we will go out of our way to make sure our customers are taken care of.

For your business as well, this is an opportunity to really knock it out of the park with your customer’s first impression upon engaging in your sales process.

4. Follow Up & Put Users Through Relevant Email Sequences

Marketing Muscle to Train: Email Marketing and A/B Testing

This one is pretty straight forward too.

After they have signed up and we have talked to them for the first time, we put them through email sequences that are providing them valuable content for them to implement in their business (much like this!) and occasionally we follow up with them.

We split test what messages we give them such as reminding them to do their first transaction among others.

Split testing is important because as a business owner you want as much of your email list to read, engage and respond to your messages as much as possible.

After you have sufficient data between the two sequences you are split testing through the automations in Active Campaign, you can choose the one that is best performing.

Simple as that!

All of this messaging is post sign-up for the follow ups, so all we are doing is building rapport with our users and giving them reasons to visit our page.

The goal for this part of our sales process is to get them to transact with us, read and give us feedback on valuable content they’d like to see for their business, and refer their network to sign up and use our platform!

Notice how different our sales process is compared to the generic example.

The point isn’t to try your best not to deviate from the example.

The point is to understand your business and craft your sales process in a way that makes sense.

Most companies have inbound and outbound sales as apart of their sales process, and I feel the generic model doesn’t really identify all the processes involved.

Between inbound and outbound sales alone, they have different orders of how the processes go anyway.

That and as a lean startup company, we pride ourselves on using software and technology to help us provide the best experience for our customers (journey wise and with using our product).

We hope that by outlining exactly what we do to make an effective sales process you can walk away with valuable insights that you can implement into your business.

So we have gone over the generic sales process and that of our own company, what’s next?

 

Other Advice

 


Identify the Customer Journey

This is exactly how we setup our stages of the Customer Journey in Hubspot. Each stage of users will receive different email messaging that’s relevant to them:

  • Prospect: They have either visited our page and have looked through everything on our site and have decided to give us their email for further messaging. Or we have identified them as a potential person we think would benefit from using our products and we have made some form of introduction to them.
  • User: They have either listened to our email messaging or we have talked to them and convinced them to sign up to our platform.
  • Customer: After creating an account the User has now performed their first transaction! Hopefully one of many as they see a need to use us for international payments.

From not being on our radar to becoming a prospect, one of two things have to happen.

Either you went to our page and gave us an email address but did not sign up (inbound), or we went through our customer personas and we have identified you as a potential person who would find our product useful (outbound).

Sometimes simply asking yourself this question will identify the unnecessary steps you might have added to your funnel.

The point of this exercise to figure out what are the distinctly different segments of the customer journey so you can craft messaging and lead nurturing specifically for each stage.

Track Your KPIs

Your Key Performance Indicators are the answers to the definitive questions you have to know about your sales process to determine how well your team is performing.

I think a good rule of thumb is to take your customer journey and make your KPIs metrics around them.

For Curexe, it could be:

How Many People Are Prospects?

How Many Are Users?

How Many Are Customers?

How Much Time Are People Staying in Each Phase Before Moving on to the Next?

How Many People Become Users Right Away, Sign Up and Transact instantly?

What is the Ratio of Users to Customers?

How Many Demos Have We Had?

How Many Demos Led to a Direct Transaction as a Result of the Call?

By having this data on hand month to month you’ll be able to identify the weak links in your process.

Take Advice From Experts

Since now you have KPIs to track in your sales process on a month to month basis and can point out the weak links in the process, now you can search out the advice of sales experts, listen to podcasts, go to keynotes and sales conferences.

By being diligent and obsessed with improving you will surely be open to what other sales experts have done to become successful.

When you already know your Sales Process’s Weaknesses, it’s easier to go out and seek information to help improve the weaknesses.

Conclusion

To break it all down in it’s most basic from, to create a Sales Process goes as follows:

  • Create customer personas
  • Understand the generic sales process
  • Compare it to your business and tailor a custom process
  • Get a CRM and make a deal dashboard
  • Run experiments and iterate on sales process
  • Set up software for your inbound sales funnel
  • Track your key performance indicators to track progress
  • Go to experts and seek out knowledge from them to constantly improve with new iterations of your sales process

Give Curexe’s Inbound and Outbound Funnel a good analyzation and see if you can implement any of our tactics in your business!

For more tactics the business owner can use to grow their business, visit our blog at Curexe.