How To Create A Winning Sales Process: Step III – Putting It All Together

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

sales results In Step I of designing your sales process, you determined the total length of time of the optimum sales cycle.  Then, in Step II, you designed the individual sales stages.  Now, let us look at what to do with this information and how the sales process will help you get better results from your sales activity and  make more sales!

Let us use a hypothetical sales person whose sales process looks like this:

  • Suspect                     Indefinite
  • Lead                         Indefinite
  • Prospect                      1 day
  • Working                     5 days
  • Contact                      10 days
  • Appointment             10 days
  • Interaction                2 days
  • Proposal                    1 days
  • Negotiating               0 days
  • Order                         1 days
  • Installation                1 days
  • Sold                            0 days

Total 12 Stages           Maximum time: 31 days

For this sales person, once he has a prospect, he should be actively working the account immediately.  He should make contact with the decision maker (DM) within five days after receiving the account, and he has ten days to set an appointment.  That sales interaction should take place within ten days and then the prospect should have a proposal two days later.

In this sample sales process, there is no negotiating or waiting time for a decision, as the sales person should get a decision during that closing interaction.  If the prospect accepts the offer, the order should be in the system the next day, the installation complete the day after, and payment received on or before installation.

CRM Software and Your Sales Process
Once you have established a solid sales process, you need to configure and customise your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software program to reflect and accurately record your activity.  Every account in your database should have a “stage” assigned and your system should be able to give you reports of how many accounts are at what stages and how long they have been there.

The Science of the Sales Process
With this sales process in place, we look and see that our sales person is having some problems.  Though he is working hard, and has a closing average that is actually a little higher than most sales people in the firm, he is consistently under sales quota.  What is wrong?

We investigate using the CRM software’s calculations and find that the sales person’s sales process is far off of the optimum plan:

  • Suspect                       0 days
  • Lead                          0 days
  • Prospect                      0 days
  • Working                      22 days
  • Contact                       2 days
  • Appointment              15 days
  • Interaction                  8 days
  • Proposal                     4 days
  • Negotiating                 0 days
  • Order                         1 days
  • Installation                 1 days
  • Sold                          0 days

You can see some major problems right away.  First, the sales person does indeed work hard, as it appears the moment he gets an account; he immediately goes to work on it.  However, when it should take him 5 days to make contact with the DM, it takes our sales person an average of 22 days, as some accounts remain in the “contact” position indefinitely!  Once he reaches the DM, he sets the appointment almost instantly, often in one cold call.

What do you think is one of the sales person’s problems?

Uncover the Problem and Fix It
We can plainly see that our sales person is great at setting the appointment once he reaches the DM, but he has a real problem getting through gatekeeper screens.  You may think that this would be obvious, yet it usually is not.  When you are working with dozens or hundreds of leads, and making tons of cold calls, as long has you are having some success, it is very difficult to see the facts.

We can also see that the sales person usually sets the appointment too far out.  In addition, after the sales interaction, the prospect should receive a proposal the next day.  However, it takes our rep over a week to deliver a proposal.  Why is this?

Establish a solid sales process and use it to sharpen your selling activities at every stage.  As you can see, our hypothetical sales person could actually have a high closing average.  That is, he may close most of the proposals he finally delivers.  However, until he addresses the problems in his process, he will never be successful.

Lastly, in establishing your sales process, set closing averages at each stage, as well.  For instance, what percentage of DMs contacted, should result in an appointment?  How many appointments should result in a proposal?

Let us assume your optimum process says that 80% of all sales interactions should result in a delivered proposal.  However, you see that your average is only 50%.  You instantly know that you have a problem and you know exactly where and what it is, and now you can fix it.

Establish a solid sales process and take the guesswork out of selling.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 23 September, 2011

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