The Sales Process and Its Benefits
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated September 1, 2021 | Published April 3, 2020
Updated September 1, 2021
Published April 3, 2020
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Salespeople connect customers with the product or service they need. It sounds simple but, in practice, turning a lead into a sale is not guaranteed. Having a consistent method for achieving sales can make it easier to convert those leads. Some companies provide their sales teams with a clear, step-by-step process, and they tend to see better results than businesses that don't.
In this article, we explain the seven steps involved in the sales process and outline the benefits of using a structured sales plan.
What is the process of sales?
The process of sales is a defined set of steps for salespeople to move customers through the sales funnel, resulting in a sale. Usually, companies standardize transactions throughout the sales department so that the whole team uses the same set of steps. Most sales processes are five to seven steps long, and they may vary from industry to industry or company to company. Generally, the steps begin well before making contact with a potential customer and end after the salesperson completes the transaction.
Steps involved in the sales process
Sales processes provide sales staff with clear guidance and structure for customer interactions. While sales processes differ in the number of steps, the typical sales process includes seven steps:
Prospecting, or generating leads, involves the salesperson finding potential customers. A solid lead is a person or company that has a clear need for your product or service. Once the salesperson has identified a lead, they must qualify that lead or determine whether the potential customer has the resources to complete the sale.
Once the salesperson has selected a potential client, they should research the market and prepare information about their company's product or service in anticipation of the potential customer's questions. Preparing also includes developing solid reasoning for why the potential customer needs the product or service.
Salespeople can approach potential clients over the phone, through email or in person. Sometimes, an approach includes a gift or a sample. Another style of approach includes asking the lead a question to pique their interest in the company, product or service.
The presentation may happen in conjunction with the approach, or it may happen later after the lead has had time to think about the product or service. Some salespeople create intensive presentations with examples and slideshows while others simply have conversations with their lead to establish rapport and answer any questions.
5. Handling objections
Often, potential customers have questions about the value or necessity of the product or service. In this step of the sales process, the salesperson responds with solutions to any proposed challenges or concerns presented by the customer. Handling objections might happen during the presentation or in a separate, later conversation.
Closing is when the customer decides to accept the salesperson's offer and move forward with the transaction. Salespeople have a variety of tactics they can use to entice potential customers to close, such as offering benefits like gifts or a period of free service, creating a sense of urgency or asking customers how they'd like to schedule their payment.
7. Following up
Once the sale is complete, the salesperson should keep in touch with the client. If the client purchased a product, the salesperson should follow up to make sure they're happy with the product and offer any further support. If the client purchased a service, the salesperson should connect the client directly and then connect them with whoever will handle their service from the point of the sale forward to ensure a smooth transfer.
You can adjust the steps of the sales process to fit the needs of your business, product or service. Make sure the process reflects your customers' needs and gives you the ability to work creatively.
Related: 14 Steps To Succeed in Sales
Benefits of using a sales process
Implementing a sales process offers a host of benefits for companies. Here are some of the top benefits businesses can expect should they create a sales process of their own:
Understanding nuances: Establishing a clear and consistent sales process helps you understand the nuances of your sales and evaluate overall effectiveness.
Improved strategies: When all salespeople work through the same process, you can clearly see which steps regularly present challenges and which provide value. Use that information to improve your sales process.
Increased sales: Sales processes lead to more sales. Salespeople know what they need to do to support customers, and customers have the time and space to decide they're ready to purchase.
Efficiency: Sales processes increase overall sales efficiency by eliminating unnecessary sales steps and tactics and focusing exclusively on effective strategies.
Easy training: Onboarding and training new salespeople is a simple task with a sales process. You can ensure your new team members will understand exactly what they need to do step-by-step to complete a sale.
Clarity: A sales process provides clarity to the whole sales team. You can rely on your fellow salespeople for guidance or support since they follow the same process for moving customers through the sales funnel as you do.
Guidance: Your company's sales process should be a guide, not rules. A clear sales process should give you clarity on how to generate sales, but the freedom to use your creativity and skills to complete sales.
Challenge reduction: Effective sales processes easily identify challenges in sales steps. Team members or supervisors can work to ease those challenges and increase the sales department's effectiveness.
Improved forecasting: When supervisors know where their employees are in the sales process, they can more easily predict and forecast how soon a sale might happen. This impacts how leadership distributes leads and manages workloads.
Follow-up priority: The sales process prioritizes following up with customers. You should be more consistent and yield better results from follow-ups when follow-ups are built into the sales process.
Happier customers: Customers are often happier making a big purchase through a sales process than without it. They know what to expect, and they feel less pressure than with salespeople who disregard important rapport-building steps in the sales process.
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