How to build a sales process

How to build a sales process

By Ian Richardson – Managing Partner, Richardson & Richardson Consulting

Are you finding yourself forgetting about opportunities? Is your organization missing the boat on winning deals? Have you consistently set lofty goals, only to fall short on achieving them?

Why are you lagging while your competition is moving forward full steam?

The answer is process, specifically a sales process. In this article we’re going to review how to build a sales process that can deliver predictable results for you team:

  • We will establish a definition of a sales process.
  • We will establish a Sales Process Outline.
  • We will run through the steps for a sales process that make up the Sales Process Outline.
  • There will also be the opportunity to download a sales process PDF to have information easily accessible for your organization.


Definition of Sales Process

Over the years that I’ve been involved in starting, managing, growing, and selling businesses, I’ve found that making sure everyone has a common language is key to success for any business endeavor (See my article around STOPLIGHT for more on that topic).

Making sure we have a solid definition of sales process that is understood by all members of our organization is key to ensuring that all members of our organization ADHERE to said process.

A sales process is the steps, techniques, tasks, actions, and methodologies your sales team follows to convert prospects into clients.

Put another way, you use a Sales Process to create a routine, repeatable set of steps that maximizes your chance of winning deals.

You’ll need to keep this definition of sales process in mind when you install it into your organization. We’re doing this to maximize our wins.

Sales Process Outline

I find it prudent to deliver an overview of processes I’m running through with clients, or an outline of sorts. The process I used at my I.T. firm, at Richardson & Richardson Consulting, and at Managed Sales Pros is identical. It has served me well throughout 20 years in a sales capacity, regardless of the conversation I’ve had or the product / service I was trying to sell. I have the steps for that sales process detailed below following the sales process outline.

Sales Process Outline

  1. Marketing Handoff
  2. Discovery
    1. Research
    2. Interaction
  3. Value Proposition
  4. Set Expectations
  5. Follow Up
    1. Value Reinforcement
    2. Decision Follow Up
  6. Contract and Paperwork
  7. Handoff to Delivery

Steps for Sales Process

It is important to note that whatever process you adopt, mine, someone else’s, or a creation of your own, that you detail out the steps for your sales process in a way that it can be understood by any who may need to participate in the process. Make sure to get team feedback on your documentation to ensure comprehension and effectiveness of said documentation.

Without further ado, the steps for my sales process are as follows:

  1. Marketing Handoff: This is when the lead is qualified as a “Prospect” for my organization. Prospect in my world means that the organization or individual is in an industry that we target, in a geography that we service, their organization meets our qualifiers (as far as we are aware) and has expressed an interest in our services / organization. It also assumes that we are speaking with the DECISION MAKER for the organization. An initial discovery conversation can be had with a subordinate / mid-level manager if the prospect dictates that as their process, but you must hold off at the INTERACTION portion of Discovery until you are able to meet with the decision maker directly.
    1. Interest is a special word here: Interest could mean that they have filled out a contact us form, booked an initial meeting, attended a webinar/tradeshow/or other such activity, downloaded a whitepaper, or was referred to us by a client/vendor/competitor/colleague.
    2. At this point the Lead is converted into a prospect status in our CRM. We utilize ZOHO at R&R and MSPros, and the terminology in that platform is an “account” – your system may vary.
  2. Discovery: Discovery is the single most important step in the sales process. Without an effective discovery, there is no ability to create rapport with the prospect, no chance to discover if your services can benefit the prospect, no opportunity to demonstrate value to the prospect, and no hope of winning the deal. Discovery consists of two components: Research, and Interaction.
    1. Research: Research the prospect, both the organization and the person you are communicating with. This should not be an exhaustive deep dive, instead, take a fast look through social profiles and website content. Notate any common features with current clients, past clients, case studies, your team, or yourself. Use the common features to help in interaction. Remember to document pertinent findings in your CRM.
    2. Interaction: Most of the Discovery occurs via Interaction with the prospect. Your job here is to listen carefully and ask good questions. (See our friend Walter Crosby’s blog around that topic here) Dig deep into why the prospect wants to talk with you. Make sure to be able to get a good handle on what is going on in the prospect’s organization. Ensure you accurately have an idea on the pain points, concerns, or issues that are currently occurring for the prospect. At a minimum, for every pain point you should have:
      1. Scope of the issue
      2. Duration of the issue
  • Frequency of the issue
  1. Cost of the issue
  2. Efforts spent previously trying to solve the issue (Sunk Cost)
  3. Current state of the issue (Horribly broke, moderate pain point, infrequent annoyance, etc.)
  1. Value Proposition: During your Discovery, it will be important to start stitching together your prospect’s current state with your services or products. This is the Value Proposition portion of the sales process. To perform value proposition, you must:
    1. Scope the current state of the prospect’s pain point(s).
    2. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the pain point(s) via effective questions, conversation, and interaction.
    3. Paint a future state without the pain point(s) – Utilize “If we were able to…” type statements followed by “Would that be the best solution for you?”
  2. Set Expectations: Near the end of the Discovery process, you will need to set expectations, not only for yourself, but for the prospect as well. If you have performed your discovery correctly, the prospect should have shared the issue(s) that has led them to meet with you, you should have a deep understanding of the breadth and depth of those issues, and the prospect should understand your knowledge and capabilities to address those issues by your future state conversations. It is time to start laying out what an engagement with your organization would look like. Your expectations conversation should:
    1. Run through the remainder of your sales process.
    2. Talk about what an engagement with your organization would look like (duration, deliverables, responsibilities of both parties).
    3. Discuss price.
    4. Answer questions the prospect may have. Ask them for additional questions after each answer.
    5. Ask three key questions of the prospect. (Do they feel like you understand what’s going on in their business and how it impacts them? Do they have confidence that you would be able to assist them in addressing those issues? Would they like your help in doing so?)
      1. ALWAYS ask for the business.
    6. If the prospect wants to think about it, you should follow up with the question: when do they anticipate deciding?
      1. Set a follow up call for a day or two after the decision deadline to receive an update.
      2. Set the expectation that No is the second-best answer, and that “Maybe” means “No” in your book. You must know what they decide so you can appropriately move forward.
    7. Follow up: You will not always get to a “yes” in the room. Many times, a prospect will want to consider their options, get proposals from other vendors, or discuss with other members of the team. This is OK. You will be doing two types of follow ups in this scenario:
      1. Value Reinforcement: Over the period between when you have your Discovery with the prospect and they render their final decision, you can continue to deliver value to the prospect. Thank you, cards/gifts, useful tools, articles, blogs, and whitepapers, invitations to events that would be of interest to the prospect, and connections to people who can help the prospect (either potential clients for the prospect, or other solution providers who might be able to service the prospect) are all examples of value reinforcement.
      2. Decision Follow Up: This is your scheduled phone call or meeting with the prospect to receive their decision.
    8. Contract and Paperwork: This step in your sales process is when you deliver paperwork for signature for the client. This occurs after you receive the commitment from the client for your engagement.
    9. Handoff to Delivery: The final step in your sales process is handoff to delivery. During this step you should update your CRM and other systems with any final notes, details, or other pertinent information that is valuable to have documented. Hold a hand off meeting with your delivery team to brief them on the client and their needs. Perform an introduction to the new client and your team to help smooth the way for a successful engagement.


Sales Process PDF

You can download our Sales Process PDF by clicking here. The Sales Process PDF contains the process detailed above, as well as some detailed procedures around each of the steps outlined above.

Final Thoughts

Sales is a vital part of any organization. Sales like finance, HR, delivery, marketing, and anywhere else you want predictable results from, needs to have process to succeed. If you get your sales team engaged and build a sales process together as a team, as well as hold each other accountable for following your sales process, you can get the results you’ve been striving for.

If you’re struggling with how to build a sales process or getting your team onboard with the need to do so, Richardson & Richardson can help. Check out our case studies for stories of organizations that we’ve assisted with similar issues and download our white papers for deep dives on tools you can use in your organization. If you’re wondering where to start, book a complimentary session with one of the Richardsons today to come up with a plan on how to move forward.


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