How to Build a Sales Process: The Complete Guide Part 3

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PART 3: Putting it all together

Now that you have picked out your stages and tasks, it’s time to give your sales process a coherent structure. Here are four sales process formats you can use for inspiration.

1. Sales process map

Arranging your stages into vertical columns might be the most natural way to organize and visualize your sales process—which is why we decided to structure it this way in Nutshell. In a sales process map, the top of each column is labeled with a stage, and the individual steps are listed below it.

While the steps listed in each column reflect the sales activities that your team needs to complete, sales process maps can also include arrows linking each column to denote the stages of the buyer’s journey that the customer is moving through.

2. Sales process checklist

A checklist sales process is arranged chronologically from top to bottom, with steps listed underneath each sales stage. Once you check off each completed step in a given stage, you can move on to the next one. This format is best for simple sales processes that don’t have a lot of moving parts.

checklist sales process

Pro tip: Leads in a sales process are either in an “open” stage, meaning they’re still being worked, or in a “closed” stage, meaning they’ve reached a conclusion—either won or lost. 

3. Sales process flowchart

While a checklist or column arrangement can work well for simple sales transactions, more complex sales can’t always be managed with a step-by-step chronological process. If each customer decision can spur different “paths” for your sales rep to take, a flowchart might be a more appropriate method to visualize your sales process.

For example, what do your reps do when a lead doesn’t advance past a certain step? Is the lead abandoned forever, or is it directed to a “winback” path where you try to reconnect with the prospect at a later date to see if they still need help finding a solution? With a sales process flowchart, you can add “Plan B” steps that can eliminate the dead ends that arise in a more straightforward sales process.

4. Buyer-aligned sales process

Ultimately, each sale represents an alignment of the buyer’s and seller’s interests. Incorporating the steps of the buyer’s journey into your sales process reminds your sales reps to consider what the buyer needs at each step.

After you’ve decided on your own sales process stages, put yourself in your customer’s shoes and add the key commitments and decisions that the buyer has to make along the way. If both sides of your buyer-aligned sales process closely mirror each other, you’re doing it right.

Should your sales process be dependent on your industry?

“The process should always focus on the customer, and customers can be very different across industries, whether you’re a B2C healthcare organization or a B2B infrastructure company,” says Jacco vanderKooij, founder of Winning by Design and author of Blueprints For A SaaS Sales Organization. “All sales processes contain similar building blocks, but the stages might be in a different order, the key activities could be executed differently, or you might need a few unique stages—a compliance stage in the financial industry, for example.”

“Your industry also affects how your leads are sourced,” adds Joe Malcoun. “At Nutshell we receive thousands of leads online via our website. On the other hand, some of our customers meet three people a year at conferences and that will be all the business they need to be successful.”

Now the fun part…

In order to reap the rewards of a sales process, you’ll need to get your entire team following it consistently. In the next installment of this series, we’ll show you exactly how to implement your new sales process into your organization and automate it within your CRM. Enjoy!

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