Having a scalable and repeatable process for any business is going to be the difference between success and failure. Reading any HubSpot article, it will reiterate the importance of having a well-defined sales process that all reps can follow which I fundamentally agree with. For this process to be adopted, stages and their associated need to have sales standards and my view is that those standards need to contain those which are:
- Required (one that you want reps to never skip, take out those that could be skipped)
- Factual (tied to a specific action, other than a feeling, not open to interpretation)
- Inspectable (one that can be verified by a record in the CRM; not in CRM, doesn’t count)
- Buyer-centric (steps represented from buyers point of view)
This mindset shift to “this is what I need to do to help the buyer in their process” instead of “how much of my stuff can I sell this person” is critical so your sales process needs to be a rep focussed action with a buyer focussed outcome, to be buyer-centric.
I won’t focus on naming the pipeline stages because this is different for every company and should be reflective of the buying process but I feel there are 6 areas that need to be contained within each stage that if well defined, reps can start to follow and follow consistently:
- Buyer Stage: the steps that your salespeople follow need to represent at what stage in their decision-making process the buyer is in. For example, Gave Demo (a typical stage in a normal sales process) can be relabelled, Product Evaluated because this is what the buyer is doing.
- Who is involved: map out in your organization who is involved in what stage of the sales process. Are there pre-sales engineers involved? Are your tech guys involved? When does Customer Success get introduced etc? Have a lead role and supporting role defined.
- Activities: what are the activities that are to be conducted by the rep at a certain stage of the process? If at the Discovery Stage, what company methodology are they to use? What are the questions to ask? What are the typical objections and talk tracks linked to that stage that you can document?
- Objectives: have this stated front and centre, so that reps know the reason for a business being in that stage. Before they enter into that call (Discovery, Second, Proposal Review Call etc.), the rep should feel secure that they know what the objective is
- Customer Verifiable Outcomes: similar to the above, this is the Outcome of the stage and therefore how the deal can progress forward by satisfying this Outcome or Exit Criteria for this stage. Exit criteria can be automated in your CRM and is a great way to improve your forecasting and deal hygiene.
- Tools: finally, document the tools a rep would need to conduct this stage of the sales process to the best of their ability. For example, if at the Prospecting/SQL stage, the tools will have more of a lead gen focus (I wrote another article on which technologies I like here), whereas at the Proposal stage, they will be using Proposal writing software (for example).