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4 steps for improving your sales process

The best business decisions are the ones that spark change — change that elevates company culture, impresses clients, and generates more revenue.

In an age where the business world is in nearly constant flux, leaders must be willing to change and advance every aspect of their operations. However, it’s important to note that change doesn’t have to be drastic or even particularly disruptive for employees, stakeholders, or customers.

Following the cause-and-effect principle that 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of your efforts, you can tighten specific aspects of your business to see positive results. One way to start is by taking steps to improve the sales process.

Reasons to improve the sales process

When you’re focused on the day-to-day grind of sales, it’s all too easy to get stuck in a subconscious mindset that resists change. You keep processes that were once efficient just because they’re familiar. Your team becomes complacent as they follow the only system they’ve known. And then you wonder why your sales numbers are slipping.

But when you improve the sales process, you reinvigorate your team and your company’s purpose. After getting through the initial resistance to change, employees become excited about doing their part.

Plus, change can lend a sheen of novelty to your sales process that makes it more attractive to your team. This enthusiasm shows up in their work and becomes apparent to clients and leads, especially when those improvements make their lives easier too.

As the COVID-19 pandemic showed, business leaders must be ready for changes at any moment. In an environment where success isn’t guaranteed, there are too many tools, too many resources, and too much competition to not continuously up your sales game.

In fact, the Harvard Business Review found that successful sales teams have tight and structured sales processes and high accountability for sales representatives — both results of cultures willing to improve the sales process often.

4 steps to improve the sales process

Sales managers may feel overwhelmed at the thought of improving their entire way of working. But effective improvement doesn’t have to mean massive overhauls. Try these four steps to improve the sales process gradually and sustainably.

1. Revisit and revamp your goals

All business processes are part of a bigger picture. Whatever companies want to achieve — higher revenue, increased customer engagement on social media, and so on — they do so by setting specific goals.

Change starts from the top down, so addressing your sales goals is the first priority in improving your sales process. Goals guide your work each day. Whether you’re simply not meeting them or your progress toward them has been slow, you should examine how they’re serving you and your sales team.

Maybe you don’t have sales goals, or perhaps you have too many. In some cases, your goals may be realistic, but you’re not checking in with your team regularly to ensure they’re making progress. Or your team may need more training to apply the goal mindset to their everyday work.

Most of the time, goals simply aren’t specific enough to work toward. “Get better at closing online sales,” for example, isn’t a goal. “Increase the online closing rate year over year by 10 percent,” in contrast, is concrete and measurable.

To start, get your team together to scrutinize your current goals — and ask for an honest and open conversation about what they think of the goals. Strategize together to come up with goals that everyone feels good about investing their time and energy in. When sales representatives feel that they’ve helped come up with their goals, they take more ownership of the sales process.

2. Act on your data

The art of landing a sale has a scientific side: analytics. The better you know your numbers, the more you can improve the sales process. Beyond simply comparing statistics and congratulating the highest-performing sales representatives, you should constantly gather and inspect your data from as many angles as possible.

Set up regular meetings to examine which stats you’re gathering and which you need to pay more attention to. Define what would be a disappointing number and ask the team for their ideas on how to make it better.

For example, if you notice that 60 percent of your prospects fail to make it past a certain phase of the sales funnel, this could indicate a problem with the way your team is approaching that phase. Or perhaps certain sales representatives need more training on how to keep leads engaged throughout the sales funnel.

One way to analyze your sales is to use a spreadsheet-database hybrid tool like Jotform Tables, which arranges your data in a variety of formats and generates reports. You can share tables with anyone on your team and export tables into Excel files. Plus, you have plenty of templates to choose from.

3. Optimize your customer-facing image

A wholesaler might be known for great customer service and offer affordable prices, but prospects will be turned off by a laggy website, a poor social media presence, or unattractive advertisements. Although these things aren’t directly related to the sales process, your company isn’t going to get enough sales if leads aren’t attracted to your brand.

Aligning your sales and marketing goals allows you to collect more leads and present a unified front across your company — one that prospects will notice. Work with your company’s social media and marketing teams to make sure your company image appeals to the kinds of customers you want to attract.

Your sales representatives should be familiar with your company’s voice and branding as well. Plus, a polished style is applicable to every phase of the sales process — it affects everything from online forms and web pages to contracts and emails.

4. Automate manual actions

Many sales representatives spend more time on repetitive actions than talking to customers. In fact, a study by HubSpot revealed that sales professionals spend a significant amount of time writing emails, inputting data, and scheduling and attending meetings — the actual process of selling takes up just 34 percent of their time.

The solution is to use tools that automate many of your manual sales processes. For example, with Jotform, you can create online forms that quickly capture contact lead information from your website. Jotform is especially useful for automating the lead generation phase. 

For quick internal approvals, you can connect forms to Jotform Approvals, which eases both internal and external sales processes in a variety of industries. Plus, Jotform integrates with customer relationship management programs such as HubSpot and Salesforce.

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