7 Essential Questions to Ask Yourself to Improve Your Sales Process Efficiency
How long does it take your company to respond to a lead or inquiry? Research shows that this is a key factor in your ultimate success.
Only 37% of organizations respond within an hour. Doing so boosts your odds of having meaningful conversations with decision-makers, making it nearly seven times more likely than if you made contact an hour later. Data suggests that between 35% and 50% of sales go to the company that responds first.
To grow and thrive in today’s competitive landscape, you need to be fast. But even more, you need to be efficient. Maximizing your sales process efficiency won’t only help boost your sales, it also directly relates to your company’s ability to level up. And to do that, you need to ask yourself some key questions.
1. Do You Have a Sales Process?
This is one of the most common mistakes among companies. Simply skipping having a sales process is a surefire way to plan to fail. Even though every sales experience is unique, there are things that have to happen in most circumstances. Start by figuring out what the shared steps are throughout most sales experiences to build your sales process. Some examples of the details to consider include:
The types of sales calls at each stage of the buying process
How you locate prospects and contact them (i.e. social media, email, voicemail)
Methods you use to identify the goals and priorities of your prospects as well as how you make sure you can help them
Ways that you explain typical agreements (i.e. demonstrations, presentations or contracts)
2. Have You Documented Your Sales Process?
When you’re in startup mode, it’s easy to fly by the seat of your pants and share information verbally. But when it comes time to scale your business, you'll need documentation that provides thorough descriptions of how to approach each sales call. It should also cover how you approach new accounts -- the questions you ask and stories you tell, along with the criteria for moving buyers from stage to stage throughout the buying journey. This will not only help your team when it comes time to scale, but it'll also provide ample opportunities for discovering new and more efficient ways of doing things.
3. Have You Created a Robust, Well-Defined Profile of Ideal Buyers?
You can't be everything to everyone. Trying to do so will kill efficiency every single time. But when you know exactly who you're talking to, your sales process and approach will be dramatically more efficient and effective, even if that means creating profiles for multiple buyer types. To define your buyer profiles, consider these points:
What are the characteristics of your ideal buyer: For B2B sales, you might think about company industry and size, for example. For consumers, you might consider annual income and other demographics.
Do you have a document: You should have something written up that defines the personas applicable to the buyers you market your goods and/or services to
What makes your buyers unique: What characteristics do the majority share? Do you sell to more women than men? Senior-level executives or independent contractors? Think about what makes your buyers special so you can better understand their needs.
4. How Do You Prepare to Reach Out to New Prospects and Leads?
Do you have a system for researching your leads and learning about them before you approach them? You should have a feel for what kind of content they read and how they arrived on your website. It also helps to have a rough voicemail script tailored to different types of contacts and email templates that let you quickly customize your messaging while tailoring it to each unique buyer.
5. Do You Have a System in Place for Follow Up Reminders?
It takes an average of eight cold calls to reach a prospect. And once you do, you're most likely going to have to follow up multiple times to get the sale. Data suggests that after making contact with a lead or prospect, 80% of successful sales are made after making five follow-ups. Unfortunately, 44% of sales professionals give up after the first follow-up attempt.
This underscores the importance not only of follow-up correspondence or calls, but also of having reminders to keep you and your sales reps on top of making those follow-up attempts. Setting task reminders or using a CRM can help get that set in place, making it easier to remember and increasing your efficiency and odds of success.
6. How Do You Plan Your Sales Calls
Have you kept up with the rapidly evolving sales call technology that has emerged over the past few years? Many organizations are lagging behind. And as a result, there's often a gap in sales process efficiency that emerges. Think about how you conduct your sales calls and prospecting. Do you have a queue you work from, calling down the list? Or do you figure out who you'll contact call by call? Using technology to organize your calls and even dial them for you can increase efficiency immensely.
Additionally, among the most efficient sales professionals, you'll find that they create blocks of time during which they make their calls. This allows them to not only figure out when the best time to reach their target prospects might be, but also maximize their phone time.
7. How Do You Track Where Prospects and Customers Are in the Sales Process?
If you don't know what deals are at which stage, how can you effectively or efficiently manage things? Having estimated close likelihoods and close dates can help inform your follow-up process. Additionally, there's valuable information to be mined from every point of progression through the pipeline and funnel. That information can tell you how your sales process is performing at every stage, which is essential to figuring out what works and what needs improvement. It also can help marketers know what's working to drive high-close rates to improve lead quality.
When you improve your sales process efficiency, you improve your performance. Creating a sales playbook, for example, which concisely tells salespeople what to do in varying situations, can increase performance by 33%. While these seven questions will help get you started, the most important one of all is unique to you: Where is your sales process lacking efficiency?