The key to a strong pipeline is implementing and defining a clear and formalized sales process.
According to one Salesforce influencer, companies with structured sales processes can improve efficiency, increase revenue, predict revenue generation, assess and improve processes, increase lifetime value, and offer better customer experiences.
This shows the importance of defining, managing, and executing a clear sales process for your sales operations team.
A defined sales process can (and will!) impact your company’s overall revenue, and it is an important driver of an accurate sales forecast. Remember, a company’s pipeline is ultimately a representation of its sales process. The pipeline defines the length of a deal cycle, the parties involved, and how success is measured.
In this post, learn how to define the sales process and how Next Quarter’s Account Growth solution supports sales operations teams.
1. Clearly Define the Stages of a Deal
Every stage of a sales deal must be clearly defined with milestones easily understood by the sales team. The terms used must be simple and clear, with nothing that could be left to interpretation.
A consistent sales process must address all points of the sales cycle, from beginning to end. This can include:
- Identifying leads
- Choosing the right channels to market products and services (email, social media, paid platforms, etc.)
- Communicating with leads at various touchpoints
- Following up on potential sales opportunities
- Closing deals
- Providing service support to customers
You should also determine which tools and technologies you will use to facilitate your sales process. Next Quarter’s Account Growth solution, for example, supports various day-to-day sales tasks and can supercharge accounts when prospecting, moving leads through sales funnels, and closing deals. This solution knows your accounts better than you do and can identify decision-makers and influencers, find new opportunities, and suggest actionable steps for sales teams.
2. Use Universally Understood Terms.
Keep in mind that every product and organization will require different terminology and definitions for these sales stages, but having universally understood terms and protocols in the sales cycle is a best practice across industries.
Using wishy-washy and generic terms will result in poor sales performance and directly affect the sales forecast.
In other words, your sales operations team should know exactly where any given deal stands. For example, the terms “prospecting” and “lead generation” are often used interchangeably in sales circles but have distinct meanings.
3. Customize Your Sales Process Based on the Customer’s Buying Process
Another important thing to keep in mind is that the sales process must align with your target customer’s buying process.
This is the key point: every organization will have a unique sales process.
There may be different expected durations, actionable items, and key players at each sales stage, depending on the customer’s buying process.
Take the time and effort to create a unique and clearly defined buying process for each of your products. The process for some products may vary drastically depending on the approvals required. However, defining each buying process will pay off.4. Thoroughly Train Your Sales Force
Make sure your team gets the training it needs and thoroughly understands where a deal should sit at each stage. By doing so, there won’t be any misunderstanding when you label or move a deal forward (or backward) in the pipeline. This predictability will make your sales forecasts much more accurate and easy to adjust.
Sales training might involve various stages. You can teach your team how to nurture leads correctly, for example, or how to identify new sales opportunities using a solution like Next Quarter’s Account Growth.
5. Continuously Calibrate Your Sales Forecasts
As a company grows, sales operations leaders must adapt and create a consistent sales process to ensure the continuous calibration and adjustment of the original forecasts.
Inconsistency and failure to adjust have proven time and time again to plague sales departments.
Implementing a rolling forecast using the right solutions will help you continuously forecast and keep your pipeline moving.
Keeping a pipeline flowing and continuously adjusting and calibrating a pipeline is very important for a sales team.
This, accompanied by a clearly defined sales process and excellent execution, will allow your organization to hit your sales forecasts and grow your company.
How Next Quarter’s Solutions Improve Your Sales Process
Next Quarter’s Account Growth is the first AI-powered account planning tool. Native to Salesforce and used by Fortune 500 companies, this solution can improve forecast models by over 97 percent and help you solve the challenges associated with ever-complicated sales processes.
Account Growth, available as a module in the Next Quarter Platform (stand-alone or bundled with other modules), lets sales operations teams identify new opportunities in sales cycles and find the right decision-makers and influencers to further their goals. You can toggle this solution on and off depending on your specific sales objectives.
Let Next Quarter’s Account Growth streamline your sales process and hit the forecasts you want to achieve. Schedule a free demo now.