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How to Build a Perfect Sales Process With the Help of Your CRM?

Matt Pliszka

Customer Acquisition at SoftwareSupport

Customer Acquisition at SoftwareSupport. Several years of experience in advisory, finance, and marketing for international businesses.

10 min read

written by

Matt Pliszka

Customer Acquisition at SoftwareSupport

Matt Pliszka | Pipedrive Partner​,​ CRM Configuration​/​Integration

There is a 10x drop in lead qualification when you wait longer than 5 minutes to respond, and a 400% decrease when you respond within 10 minutes versus 5 minutes.

Harvard Business Review

This ultimate guide features the below guides:

No doubt, the best way to understand the nature of building an effective sales process is to engage or work with a large company. Without having practical knowledge and experience, it's difficult to understand the reason why sales processes exist at all but in this article, we will show you steps to building an effective sales process based on our experiences with mostly larger enterprises implementing and integrating CRM systems with our experts' support.

What is the sales process?

Imagine your business experiences a higher than average inflow of new leads and customers during a seasonal period. If you're the only salesperson in the company, you might not be able to handle the incoming traffic by yourself, anymore. Hence, you'd need to employ additional sales power to process all the inquiries. But as you grow your team to a few members, how do you set guidelines for them to follow, based on your experience and know-how? How do you make sure that you're able to measure their activities and performance, accurately?

Also as the number of your sales leads increases, how do you make sure that your sales team is effective and connects only with the relevant ones?

Sales processes are exactly this type of guideline for your team to follow, including lead qualification to focus on the most important prospects.

Why create and follow a sales process?

"If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you are doing"

Edward Deming

Sales processes can be designed for both a few people smaller teams as well as for large enterprises with the teams comprising dozens of professionals.

No matter the size of the team, sales processes will provide you most importantly the below values:

  • A clear guide for new sales team members to follow (onboarding new team members)
  • A way to measure and assess sales performance and conversion
  • A benchmark to optimize your sales activities, hence improve sales/conversion

The above are only a few reasons for sales processes to exist and there can be a lot more reasons behind implementing and using sales processes. These include:

  • Aligning 2 different departments to follow a similar process
  • Shifting from on-site to remote work
  • Improving the team's efficiency
  • Sales automation
  • CRM implementation

Once you have your sales process in place, following it is necessary for your process to work. Without your team following a designed process, you will not be able to analyze statistics and numbers related to each part of the process.

An essential thing to make it work is to put a CRM system in place, allowing your team to follow the process, record activities, and report results.

Why optimize your sales process?

Once/if you already have your sales process in place, why would you refine and modify it?

There are a lot of reasons behind sales process optimization, these include:

  • Improving metrics (with the sales process in place you can measure them)
  • Keeping up to date with the current sales and technology trends (a new tech allowing you to reach/qualify customers might be available, like Gong)
  • Growing your team or shifting between on-site/off-site sales (an extended team might need a refined sales process and a team shifting to on-site visits might need a different process to follow)

Steps to building an effective sales process

So how to start building your sales process? Let's look into the below steps:

1. Start with customer

Example customer contact journey

I won't surprise you that the first step to the sales process building is... learning about your customer's needs and behavior.

The steps they take on their journey to a successful purchase and the way they interact with you is essential to building an effective sales process.

The best way to do it is to use your own executive experiences, statistics (if you collect ones, e.g. in spreadsheets) or run a questionnaire about customer behavior with your team.

2. Learn about the current team’s and team members’ behavior.

Example activities

If you learn the behavior on the customer's side, it's good to take your team's perspective and learn their way of approaching customers.

The team or your salespeople might already have a sales process in place they're not even aware of.

Use your current team's sales process as a starting point to build an optimal one. Why? If you don't align an optimal sales process to their actual behavior, they might ultimately just not follow it.

3. Draft stages based on the team & customer's behavior.

Example sales process stages

If you know your team's and customer's behavior, you will now be able to set us specific steps in the sales process, allowing you to plan your team's and customer's journey.

These steps will probably not be your ultimate and optimal sales process but will help you on your road to reaching one.

Use the stages as a benchmark for drafting your perfect process.

4. Analyze the time to complete each step of the process.

Example days spent on sales process stages

Time to completion is crucial to make sure you understand your sales process.

This will provide you with a benchmark for analyzing your sales performance.

Use real-life data and statistics as well as customer interactions to estimate the time required for each stage's completion.

5. Analyze actions taken on each step.

Activities performed per account on a specific stage of the sales process

If you have the time to completion for each stage of the customer interaction, you should now draft the specific actions you take. These can be:

  • Call
  • Email
  • Offer preparation
  • Design preparation
  • Meeting

The above should be connected with the stages in your process to make sure you draft and understand the difference between actions taken on particular sales stages.

6. Search for areas to optimize/enhance.

Example stats for sales process stages

Now that you know the status quo and you understand how your team operates, it's time for improvement and optimization, matching your actual operations with the perfect sales process.

Look at the current stages your team uses and perform the below operations:

  • Cut out the non-relevant stages
  • Shorten the time to completion for each stage
  • Maximize the efficiency of activities performed on each stage

Searching for optimization areas will let you build your perfect process for you and/or your team to follow.

7. Align with other processes in your business.

Example project management process

Creating a perfect sales process does not mean that you will be able to implement it.

First, you need to check that this will be possible by verifying how it matches other processes in your business.

Make sure that it doesn't interrupt operations, customer service or project management. The sales process should align and sometimes, also support other processes.

8. Confirm with your team.

Example sales process specification

Now that you have your sales process in place, you need to make sure your team agrees with its design and way of work.

If you skip this one, you might end up building something your team is not going to use.

Make sure your team agrees on the sales process stages and confirms its design.

9. Train your team on the sales process.

Zoom video training

To launch your sales process, your team needs to understand it well.

But to understand it, first, they need to learn how to handle it properly.

Hence, team training is an essential part of the sales process building.

10. Reflect on the CRM system.

With an already designed sales process, you can now implement it and reflect in your CRM system.

This will be a separate process, called CRM implementation/integration which comprises of both business planning and technical setup.

We'll look into this in more detail in the next part of the article or you can read our Guide to Successful CRM implementation.

Steps to setting up a sales process in CRM

1. Reflect your sales process on your pipeline.

Sales process building in Pipedrive

Build your sales process by setting up your sales pipeline reflecting steps you need to take to reach a successful sale.

When setting up your pipeline, you should also make use of the rotting days feature displaying the number of days your team needs to take to complete each step as well as the probability of closing a particular deal which will support your sales forecasting.

With the sales pipeline in place, you will be able to start using basic features of your CRM system.

2. Lead sources integration and attribution.

Example lead sources

This one would be more complicated and would require expertise CRM support but setting up your lead sources is essential to making it work correctly.

Integrate your website forms, Facebook Ads, Google Ads, and other sources, to make sure new leads land straight in your CRM pipeline.

If you have your lead sources in place, analyzing your sales process efficiency, divided by the source of acquisition will be a piece of cake.

3. Slack notifications/reminders.

Example notifications for overdue activities

If you have a perfect team (I have seen this kind of team only in one business/customer), they will follow the sales process by heart without any additional trigger to take action.

But if you don't have one (yet), you can make use of additional reminders and incentives to make sure they use their CRM and follow the sales process.

Set up reminders for leads that exceed the time to be spent on a specific stage of the sales process or not lagging in planning the activities.

+ use sales tools to fasten your sales process and improve conversion

You will find many tools on the market that will help you make your sales process successful and some of them can become a distractor rather than a helper, so I will show you a few most interesting ones to us:

  • Leadworx

Learworx is a data enrichment solution allowing you to identify prospects in your CRM system, match them with website visits, and enrich with proper contact information (like the company, email address, phone number).

  • Outfunnel

Outfunnel is a tool syncing the information in your CRM system with email marketing activity, notifying you about clicks and opens of your newsletters.

  • Gong

Gong is a new popular technology, helping you to manage remote sales teams, helping mostly in the lead qualification process, lead assessment process, and team monitoring/management.

Steps to optimizing your sales process

Example sales process analytics dashboard

Implementing your sales process does not meet ending your adventure with sales process building.

Once you and your team start following it, you will find plenty of areas for sales process optimization and enhancement.

So what are your steps to sales process optimization once you've already made sure your data is in place and your team is using a CRM system?

1. Analyze the data

Look into the information you store in your CRM to drive proper conclusions. This includes:

  • Stages' conversion
  • Time on each stage of the process
  • Activities efficiency

The above will give you an overall outlook on the process and on the data you already have in the system.

2. Introduce optimizations.

After you analyze your data and look for potential sales process benchmarks, you can now think of ways to optimize it.

Some of the examples for optimizations:

  • Deleting a stage seeing that it's no longer needed by your sales team (e.g. deleting a phase of contract preparation if you've managed to digitalize contract signing)
  • Reducing the time for each stage of the process (if you need an additional incentive for your team to speed up)
  • Changing the type of activities for each stage of the sales process (if you see that the current activities are not effective)

3. Introduce optimizations in your CRM.

Once you have the list of optimizations in place, you will now need to implement them in your CRM.

Without having them reflected in your CRM system, this will not have any significant impact on your team.

Any changes to the stages you make and any optimizations you introduce, make sure they're in your CRM system.

Your sales process, designed and implemented

To sum up, setting up your sales process is not that difficult. After all, it's about analyzing steps on your customer's and sales team's journey, creating a framework for making it work in a structured way, and implementing it by using technology, like a CRM system.

Make sure you implement your sales process in your CRM, measure data/progress, and aim at improving metrics.

With your sales process in place, you can now really take care of things that matter the most to you which can be growing your business or taking care of your stuff.

Need help with a proper sales process and CRM setup? In SoftwareSupp, we help you find and hire freelancers with the right software know-how and skills.

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written by

Matt Pliszka

Customer Acquisition at SoftwareSupport

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