Did you know that the linear sales funnel originated during the Industrial Revolution?
In case your junior high history notes are a little dusty, the Industrial Revolution started in 1760 and lasted until 1820. That means that companies still prescribing to the awareness, interest, desire, and action model are using a system that’s over 200 years old.
The sales funnel still applies to a lot of businesses, but with the Internet and all the touchpoints available today, it’s essential to plan out a more specific sales process that goes beyond these four stages. If your company hasn’t revisited its sales process strategy in years, or worse, doesn’t clearly define it, read on to learn specific techniques on how you can map your sales process.
Mapping your sales process allows you to uncover potential inefficiencies, gain insight into successful strategies, and improve your sales division depending on your business goals. As you begin the process, use Lucidchart to guide you through the steps of mapping out a more efficient sales process.
Create a version of the sales process template with Lucidchart that each employee can have and reference on a regular basis, and keep the process a topic of regular discussion and debate.
1. Define the benefits
Depending on your role, you may not be individually championing an initiative to map and optimize your sales process. However, the success of an effort like this depends on input and buy-in from the entire sales team—and other teams that interact closely with sales—so it’s important to understand how a strategic sales process will benefit all of these groups.
According to Peter Chun, our VP of Inside Sales at Lucidchart, even for successful companies, “mapping out your sales process provides the visibility necessary to accurately pinpoint where in the process you need to focus to improve.”
Once the rest of the company understands the benefits and reasons behind such a large-scale evaluation, they’ll be better equipped to make valuable contributions and adopt the changes once they’re put in place. In fact, research has shown that when marketing and sales teams are closely aligned, companies enjoy a 36% higher customer retention rate.
2. Focus on the end goal
As you evaluate your sales process, resist the common mistake of getting lost in the details. While you work on fine-tuning each step of your process, everything you do should come back to an overarching end goal. Depending on your company, that goal could be customer retention, reaching a broader audience, or simply hitting more aggressive sales goals.
One of the most common mistakes during sales process mapping is focusing so much on the intricacies of each step that you lose sight of what you’re actually trying to do. Whatever your end goals are, establish them early on to maintain clarity as you get deeper into the process.
Once you have your end goal defined, dive into researching your own company and your existing customers to gain insight on what you’re currently doing, and use a Lucidchart template to guide you. Gathering the right research will simplify and streamline your later steps, but it can also be a time-consuming process. With the help of the right template, you’ll be able to stay focused and be sure you’re gathering the right information.
Ask yourself the questions in the template below and continue on for more explanation of each question.
What is the customer’s journey?
As you define your sales process, you’ll think a lot about the actions you’re taking—but don’t forget to consider those actions from the potential customer’s perspective. What impact will each step of the process have on the customer? In what ways could you improve their experience?
What is your company’s sales funnel?
As many as 68% of B2B companies don’t actually know the answer to that question. Don’t be one of them. If your funnel is outdated or inaccurate, spend a little more time in this phase. Reenergizing your sales process isn’t worthwhile if you don’t have a solid grasp on your sales funnel.
How can you add value to the customer?
Everything you do should have a tangible benefit to the customer. Consider their experience in every step of your sales process, and look for ways to distinguish your company from competitors with a more customer-centric strategy.
What are successful team members doing?
Talk to the people who are selling every day, and find out what strategies lead to successful results for them. You might find that your ideal sales steps aren’t happening in reality. Encourage your team members to collaborate with one another and share insights across functions. Fostering this kind of discussion provides you with practical, not just theoretical, knowledge as you’re mapping the sales process.
4. Identify steps and establish metrics
At this point, your research should have provided you with an outline of your sales process. If you’ve established a clear customer journey, use Lucidchart to create a parallel sales process that keeps the focus on customers, works towards a clear end goal, and includes actual—not ideal—steps in your sales process.
As you define each step, don’t leave room for interpretation or misunderstanding. Employees using the process in the field need to be able to follow the steps on their own, without gaps, vagueness, or ambiguity. Otherwise, your carefully outlined sales process will morph into several sub-processes—basically, every salesperson deciding his or her own course of action—without your knowledge.
Further, while you’re deciding on which steps to include, avoid the temptation to adopt one specific sales methodology, and instead consider multiple sources. This approach will allow you to tailor your process, rather than trying to fit it into a rigid methodology that may not be best for your company.
After you’ve mapped the steps of the process, decide on a way to track your sales metrics. This step is especially important if you’re implementing big changes, but any sales team should have measures in place to record the efficacy of their processes. Once you implement the new sales process, you’ll be able to start tracking metrics immediately if you already have a CRM in place.
5. Trust it
When major stakeholders have agreed upon a process, trust that process and make it readily available to employees. This is the time to provide new and current employees with training, support, and visual reminders of the process and to demonstrate consistency in adhering to this new guide.
Welcome feedback from team members and customers—in Lucidchart, you can easily share your sales process and allow team members to add comments directly on the diagram. Review your sales process regularly to make sure it’s still viable and working well. By maintaining the sales process map you invested time and resources into creating, you’ll be less likely to have to repeat the entire process again and make dramatic changes in the future.
A sales process is most applicable to the sales professionals who use it every day, but it’s relevant to the entire company. Mapping the sales process you use can unveil impactful insights into the way your company functions, as well as foster important collaboration and communication across teams.
The visual component of a sales process map is especially important, so use Lucidchart templates to outline how you’ll define your process, to research your company’s sales strategy, and to finally make your own sales process template with a clear and practical design.