Inside Sales: 7 Steps to Help Build an Effective Inside Sales ProcessGraham Richardson
Creating an effective sales funnel needn’t be difficult. With a little prior planning and research, you can begin building an effective and repeatable sales funnel in no time. The road to success, however, doesn’t have a straightforward or easy answer. Not because it’s overly complicated, but because there are a lot of variables to consider throughout the process, so what works well for one company or industry may not apply to you & yours.
In this article, we examine 7 key focus areas to help formulate a clear, repeatable & scalable process.
- Define Your Ideal Customer Profile or Buyer Persona
- Invest in Sales Team Training & Support
- Create Content to Support your Outbound Process & help Drive Inbound Traffic
- Clearly Define Your Sales Process(es)
- Choose the Right Tools to Support the Above
- Iteration & Analysis
1. Define Your Ideal Customer Profile or Buyer Persona
Before you can build your process, you need to understand your target audience. What are the problems they are looking to solve? And what impact is that problem having?
Solving their problem will help get you to the impact and the impact is where urgency, value & need live. You have to know the problem your buyers & prospects are struggling with & the impact it’s having on them.
You can build different buyer personas for the various segments of your customers. Your buyer personas need to be based on real-world info, not just gut instinct or guesswork. Start by defining the people who actually want to buy from you, not the people you wish would buy from you. Begin with;
- thorough audience research; who’s already buying from you (age, location, language, income, buying behaviour, interests and activities, life stage (such as new parenthood or retirement) etc.). Dig into your website and social analytics for patterns & see what the competition is up to.
- identify existing customer pain points; what problems are your prospects trying to solve? What impact is that problem having?
- identify customer goals; if the problem above has been identified & addressed accordingly, what is the desired outcome of solving that problem?
- understand how your product or service brand can help; how does your product or service align with solving that problem and how close does it get your prospect to their goal? try not to think about your offering in terms of features, but instead dig deep to analyze the benefits you offer to customers. A feature is what your product is or does. A benefit is how your product or service makes your customer’s life easier or better.
- turn your research into buyer personas; gather all of your research and look for patterns or common characteristics, i.e. industry, demographic or region. As you begin to group those patterns together, you’ll have the basis of your unique customer personas.
Once this is clearly mapped for you, platforms like Growbots or Seamless.ai, can be a great source for high-quality leads.
2. Invest in Sales Team Training & Support
An often overlooked area, your sales teams need that support. High-performing sales organizations are twice as likely to provide ongoing training as low-performing ones.
Also good to ensure that everyone on your team knows the product. Do they know their ICP? What’s their elevator pitch? Do they know their value proposition? And are they using all of that information to delve into the problem their prospects have & how your product or service can help?
3. Create Content to Support your Outbound Process & help Drive Inbound Traffic
If you’re not sure where to begin on this one, start with your pitch deck – can you adapt that presentation to be an informative PDF or ebook? And what materials do the sales team have to send to prospects or to share with their clients?
The natural urge is, of course, to jump straight in & start blasting cold calls & emails. But do your prospects know who you are? Or what problem you solve or value you can provide?
The way we communicate has changed, and so too has the way we, and our customers, make purchase decisions. This is true for both B2C and B2B markets. Approximately 64% of consumers say they are likely to research online before making any purchasing decisions, while a whopping 94%, say an online review has convinced them to avoid a business or product.
While prospects researching your business online is indeed a good thing, it’s also reliant on the notion that you & your business is actually present online & on the various social media channels. And more specifically, that you’re present on the channels that your target audience favours. It’s no good sinking all your time & money into Twitter if the majority of your prospects use Instagram.
Prospects researching your business online, or consuming your content is also key in helping to establish your brand as a ‘go-to’ or a ‘trusted source’. Your Google Analytics is clever enough to notice the differences between ‘return traffic’ & new traffic. As such, you can then begin to engage with that same pixel audience, drive them toward your website & hopefully, re-market to them or catch their attention with a CTA & ultimately, convert to a sale.
This may seem like a whole lot of work & content production for a possible conversion, over what could be, a very lengthy time period, but that’s OK. You need people to have a reason to go to your website, but it’s not necessarily the people consuming your content who are going to buy or convert – and that’s fine, because they are helping Google & others, see that your content is useful (by sharing or linking it). You are then, more likely to being ranked hirer on the search engine, as your site is seen as having more authority.
Without some materials & content to share & help spread the word, your message runs the risk of being ignored completely & leads being burnt.
4. Clearly Define Your Sales Process(es)
Defining your sales process is crucial in helping your businesses grow. By eliminating much of the guesswork of managing leads and customers, businesses can benefit massively from a clearly defined sales process.
You may only need 3 or 4 key steps in your actual sales process (for example, Prospecting, Contact, Needs Analysis, Offer), but the process of defining your buyer personas, creating an effective pipeline etc, all have an impact on how efficient your sales process is, as well as how qualified the leads in your funnel are.
To learn more about how many steps may be needed for your sales process, check out our blog post on; How to Create a Sales Process.
Sales, and in particular B2B sales, are rarely sequential. A winning sales process is not only the result of understanding the problem & a good offer – but also of all the activities that precede its preparation and follow its submission.
B2B sales, in my view, is a systematic approach, consisting of a series of nonlinear, single actions, that are not always performed in a certain order, or perhaps not performed at all.
Think back to the steps & actions taken for a deal you won – a deal that you really wanted to win.
Probably, you tried to meet the customer, understand their needs well, identify the key decision makers & thought about the criteria that would guide them when making the decision.
Only then did you prepare the offer & after submitting it, followed up & negotiated the terms – thus arriving at a stage where the offer really met the expectations.
Modern sales processes are more centred more toward human-centric selling– ‘what problem does my product/service solve for my client? How do I identify what is desirable, viable and feasible for this customer?’.
Understanding the problem is critical – because with it, comes the impact of that problem, which in turn, defines the size & scope of the problem. And as mentioned above, knowing the problem your prospects are struggling with & the impact it’s having on them is vital.
5. Choose the Right Tools to Support the Above
A well configured CRM will allow you to track their customers’ journey, identify any risks and patterns along the way, and in time, help define which steps are most likely to encourage prospects down the sales funnel.
There are of course apps & platforms to help you with virtually every aspect of your business so worth finding the ones that best your needs.
Whether it be database building (Right Hello, Growbots), mass outbound emails (Woodpecker, MailShake) or online monitoring (Brand24).
Here is a link for an article detailing 30+ sales support tools.
6. Outreach Campaigns
Cold calling. Cold emailing. Social Selling. All methods to be used & embraced. Everyone will have their preference on which method to use & why, so again – choose the one that best fits your business.
- cold calling; It’s not something that can be mastered overnight, so set yourself a goal to learn something new in every conversation with a prospect, whether it be good or bad. Cold calling certainly isn’t dead. It’s simply evolved. Having a new takeaway from each call will help you hone your cold calling skills and allow you to better analyse your processes – and ultimately define a cold calling strategy that works for you. Here are 5 simple strategies to help structure your sales calls.
- cold emailing; essentially, you have a 10-second window of attention, of the person to whom you’re emailing. To get your buyers or prospects to open you are expecting them, or Asking them, to do 4 things;
- open your email.
- read your email.
- respond or complete the CTA.
- agree to whatever it is your really asking for (demo, purchase, meeting).
That’s a lot of “Asks”, so your subject line, key message and your request/proposal or CTA should be well thought out, personalised as can be & concise. And ideally, all of that should fit into between 50 to 125 words.
- social selling; using social media to find and engage with new prospects. Use your chosen platform(s) to provide value to prospects by answering questions, responding to comments & by sharing content throughout the buying process – from awareness to consideration.
7. Iteration & Analysis
In order to manage and maintain control of all of the above, one needs to efficiently and regularly review their data. Everything from the effectiveness of your outbound messages (A/B tests), to reports & dashboards, through to monthly performance reviews & feedback. And just like with a marketing funnel, a B2B sales funnel should be optimized and measured regularly.
After all, if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.
By focusing on shorter-term goals, you are able to better evaluate progress and will have a clearer insight into your data. The most important information from your CRM or sales pipeline is the data that informs you of what’s actually going on in the sales team & that helps you manage reps toward a higher performance. i.e.:
- No. of calls/emails required to book demos or meetings
- Conversion % of demo to trial
- Conversion % of Trail to Closed Deal
- Average Deal Value
- Average length of sales cycle
The above data points can then be leveraged to help in forecasting your future deals in order to get the best result possible. It may be helpful to view your sales process as a series of landing lights to help guide you toward the right path, rather than a rigid framework that must be followed precisely at all times.
Ultimately, it comes down your sales process. CRM is about making your sales process better, and not about the CRM tools themselves. Knowing your goals and defining how and where a CRM can help with them, will allow you to select the right platform for your business needs.
To find out how CRM can benefit your business, check out our website www.livespace.io or you book a 1-2-1 demo here.