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For sales professionals and organizations determined to supercharge their revenue generation, building and automating a sales workflow is a game-changing strategy. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into what a sales workflow is, explore the seven crucial stages of the sales cycle, and uncover the why and how of building an effective sales workflow.
Moreover, we’ll share four powerful methods to automate your sales workflow, making the entire process more efficient and lucrative.
Unlock the potential of your sales team and drive revenue growth with a well-structured, automated sales workflow. From lead generation to closing deals, this guide has you covered.
What is a Sales Workflow?
A sales workflow is a meticulously designed, step-by-step process that maps out the journey from initial lead acquisition to the successful closure of a sale. It is a dynamic framework that ensures consistency, efficiency, and accountability in every aspect of the sales process.
Seven Stages of the Sales Cycle
We have found that for most companies there are seven stages to the sales cycle:
- Prospecting: Identify potential customers and gather relevant contact data. (Make a List)
- Initial Contact: Reach out to leads and make the first connection. (Call the List)
- Completion Conversation: During your initial connection to the prospect you’re going to determine if this person fits your ideal customer profile and has genuine interest.
- Stage of buying process Conversation: This usually is part of the initial discussion and part of the Completion conversation and helps you both determine if the client is ready to proceed to the next stage or if they’re not ready. Usually there are only 4 outcomes from this discussion: We’re not ready now, We’ll be ready in a few months, We’ll never be ready or We’re ready right now.
- Discovery Discussion: During this initial lengthy conversation you’re going to attempt to understand the prospect’s current and desired future stated outcomes that I call the GAP (from Keenan). You’ll then quantify and amplify the GAP and decide whether or not it makes sense to proceed with a more fulsome conversation about how and when to fill this GAP.
You should also understand the prospects decision making process as it relates to time and financial investments you’re likely proposing. If there are other people in the “buying committee” who need to be part of the discussion then they should be brought to a follow on Discovery Discussion that confirms everything you’ve learned from this initial prospect.
- Advocacy Discussion: If you both agree that the GAP is material and your prospect wants to close this GAP then you can have a discussion about how your offerings and those of alternatives might help them achieve their desired future state. In addition, you may have a conversation about commercial terms and the prospect’s decision making process.
- Commercial Discussion: Here you can get into the details of how you intend to work with the client to fill their GAP and the time and financial investment they’ll have to make to help them achieve their desired future state. This might include a detailed discussion of your onboarding process and success measurements for the project.. Sometimes this discussion can take place during the Advocacy discussion.
- Follow-up and Retention Outreach: Throughout the relationship, you’ll need to follow up and ensure that you’re meeting your new client’s needs, identify where performance gaps might be taking place and how such gaps can be remediated (hint: it’s usually both of you). These conversations should be held at regular intervals and NOT 60 days before renewal.
Why Build a Sales Workflow?
A well-structured sales workflow provides numerous advantages for both individual sales representatives and organizations as a whole. Here’s why it’s essential:
1. Consistency: A defined sales workflow ensures that every member of the team follows a standardized process, reducing inconsistencies and improving prospect and customer experience.
2. Efficiency: By segmenting the sales cycle into stages, you can identify bottlenecks, streamline processes, and allocate resources more effectively.
3. Accountability: It’s easier to hold team members responsible for their actions and results when there’s a clear workflow in place.
4. Scalability: As your business grows, you can easily onboard new team members and maintain the same level of quality and effectiveness in your sales process.
5. Data-Driven Decision-Making: A sales workflow generates valuable data that can be analyzed to fine-tune your strategies and improve your sales process.
How to Build an Effective Sales Workflow
Creating a successful sales workflow involves several key steps:
1. Define Your Sales Stages: Start by identifying the key stages of your sales cycle. These may vary depending on your industry and product.
2. Set Clear Objectives: For each stage, define what the goal is, what success looks like, and how it aligns with your overall sales strategy.
3. Assign Responsibilities: Determine who on your team is responsible for each stage and their roles within it.
4. Develop a Playbook: Create detailed guidelines, scripts, and materials to support your team at each stage.
5. Integration of Technology and Tools: Choose and integrate the right tools and software to support your workflow, such as CRM systems and communication platforms.
6. Training and Onboarding: Ensure your team is trained on the workflow and any associated tools.
7. Continuous Improvement: Regularly review your workflow and gather feedback from your team to make necessary adjustments and enhancements.
4 Ways to Automate Your Sales Workflow
Automation can be a game-changer when it comes to sales workflows. It reduces manual tasks, minimizes errors, and frees up your sales team to focus on building relationships and closing deals. Here are four powerful methods to automate your sales workflow:
1. CRM Integration: Automation Point: Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems can automate lead tracking, communication, and data management.
Efficient Lead Management: Capture and organize lead data automatically, ensuring that no potential customer falls through the cracks.
Personalized Outreach: CRM systems can trigger automated responses and reminders based on customer interactions and preferences.
Data Analytics: Access real-time insights and reports to make data-driven decisions and identify sales trends.
How to Implement: Choose a robust CRM system that aligns with your business needs, and ensure your team is adequately trained on its features. The InsideCRO team has built their system on Salesforce CRM but our clients use a variety of systems including HubspotCRM, Zoho CRM, Close.io, and others.
2. Email Marketing Automation
Automation Point: Email marketing tools can automate follow-up emails, nurture sequences, and even personalized messaging.
Consistent Follow-Up: Ensure that leads receive timely and relevant follow-up emails without manual intervention.
Lead Nurturing: Automate the process of sending targeted content to nurture leads through the sales cycle.
Segmentation: Segment your email list to send tailored messages to different types of leads.
How to Implement: Select an email marketing platform that integrates with your CRM, create automated email sequences, and monitor performance. Given the shift away from email blasting outlined by Gmail and Yahoo found in the recent news, you’ll need to find systems that work at your pace.
3. AI-Powered Chatbots:
Automation Point: AI-driven chatbots can engage with website visitors, answer basic questions, and collect lead information.
24/7 Availability: AI-enabled Chatbots can interact with potential leads at any time, providing immediate responses and capturing lead details.
Focus of marketing efforts: As the Chatbot is your main source of collecting interested prospect information and intent most of your marketing messaging, advertising and outreach efforts should drive traffic to your website. Conversely, if you don’t have a lot of traffic on your site at present and have no clear strategy to improve this then we do NOT suggest you use this strategy.
Qualification: Use chatbots to qualify leads and direct high-potential prospects to your sales team by coding specific qualifying questions that will ultimately drive higher lead scores.
Data Collection: Gather valuable data during conversations to enrich your lead profiles.
How to Implement: Choose a chatbot platform (there are a bunch), configure it to match your brand’s tone and objectives, and regularly update it based on customer interactions.
4. Sales Enablement Tools:
Automation Point: Sales enablement tools can automate the scheduling of follow-up calls, tasks, and reminders.
Time Management: Ensure that your team never misses a follow-up or important task.
Personalized Scheduling: Set up sequences to send messages or schedule calls at the most opportune times.
Scalability: Easily scale your outreach efforts without overwhelming your sales team.
How to Implement: Choose a sales sequencing or workflow tool that integrates with your CRM, can be customized to your workflow and processes , and track the performance metrics that matter most to you.
A Powerful Strategy
Building and automating a sales workflow is a critical strategy to drive revenue growth, improve efficiency, and maintain consistency in your sales processes. Start by defining your sales stages and objectives, and equip your team with the right tools and training.
Then, embrace automation by integrating CRM systems, using email marketing automation, implementing AI-powered chatbots, and leveraging sales sequencing tools. By following this roadmap, you’ll position your sales team for success and watch your revenue soar. Don’t wait; take the first steps toward a more efficient and lucrative sales workflow today.
And in order to keep everything running, all details relating to your workflows should be captured as plays within your Sales Playbook (but we’ll save that for another post).