Beginner’s Guide to Sales Processes [+ Free Sales Processes Flowchart Template]

Beginner’s Guide to Sales Processes [+ Free Sales Processes Flowchart Template]

It takes a great deal of talent (or at least acquired skills) to be a good salesperson.

It takes a solid strategy to become a great one. Developing effective communication skills, mastering the art of persuasion, and staying up-to-date with industry trends are just a few of the many aspects that contribute to becoming a good salesperson.

The best sales teams don’t rely on their gut feeling to win a deal. They don’t just work tirelessly in hopes to reach their quota – they know exactly how to deliver on the requirements, month after month.

To build a consistent revenue stream, you need to take all the guesswork out of your sales. You need a plan, you need a process – a sales process.

A formal, structured, repeatable sales process is what sets the top-performing organizations apart from the rest. It’s what helps them generate 28% more revenue on average and grow, on average, 15% faster.

The importance of structured approach in sales, even with basic sales process flowchart template

Source: HBR

In this post, we’ll talk about the sales process description in general and provide actionable guidance on how to create a sales process and sales process templates from scratch (along with the free proven templates to get you started).

First, let’s figure out what is a sales cycle vs process.

What is a sales process?

There are many ways to define a sales process. Most organizations describe it as a standardized, repeatable set of steps and the corresponding actions a sales team goes through to convert a prospect to a paying customer. 

While the sales business process steps usually repeat the buyer’s journey – from the first contact to conversion and repeat purchase – it is a common mistake to confuse the sales process and a sales cycle. Being tightly connected, they still refer to slightly different concepts.  

The typical sales cycle is just a set of steps that replicates a buyer’s journey. 

The sales process, on the other hand, is a much broader concept that tells you exactly what to do to turn leads into loyal customers, including activities, methods, and tools you should use. 

Key sales process documentation 

Sales process documents can take various forms, each serving a distinct purpose and audience within an organization. Below are some common types of sales process documentation:

1. Sales processes flowchart or map

These visual documents outline each step of the sales process in a diagrammatic form. They’re useful for providing a quick overview of sales process mapping examples, and sales cycles, showing how each stage leads to the next, and identifying any dependencies or potential bottlenecks.

2. Sales playbooks

A sales playbook is a comprehensive document that details strategies, best practices, scripts, and procedures for salespeople to follow. It often includes sales process examples and information on handling objections, pitch guides, product positioning tips, and competitive analysis. Sales playbooks are designed to equip sales reps with the knowledge and tactics they need to navigate the sales process successfully.

3. Training manuals and guides

These documents focus on the educational aspect of the sales process, providing detailed instructions, background information, and product knowledge to train new sales representatives. These guides and manuals provide valuable insights on how to create a sales process. They often cover company policies, sales techniques, CRM usage, perhaps a sales process diagram, sales cycle example, and other tools essential for sales operations.

4. Standard operating procedures (SOPs)

SOPs for sales are detailed, step-by-step instructions designed to ensure consistency and efficiency in specific sales operations or tasks. They might match the sales process steps to their description and cover sales process models for lead qualification, proposal creation, contract signing, and after-sales service. SOPs help minimize errors and variability in how sales activities are performed.

5. Scripts and sales manual templates

Scripts for phone calls, emails, presentations, and other customer interactions are a form of sales documentation. Templates for outbound sales, proposals, quotes, and follow-up emails also fall under this category. They provide a standardized way to communicate with prospects and customers, ensuring consistency and professionalism.

6. Performance tracking sheets and dashboards

These documents or tools are used to track sales performance against targets, showcasing sales processes examples. They might include spreadsheets, CRM dashboards, or custom reporting tools that monitor sales activities, outcomes, and KPIs. They help sales managers and teams measure progress, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions.

Sales reporting is necessary when building Sales Processes Flowchart

Build Your Outbound Sales Playbook: The Ultimate Guide on Processes, Tools, KPIs and more

Whether you’re new to outbound sales or just looking to build a more efficient and effective sales workflow, download our outbound sales playbook to get your sales development efforts up and running in no time.

The default sales process steps

Sales cycles may differ depending on the type of business and product you’re selling. A B2B sales process cycle is nothing like the one used by B2C and the SaaS industry is in a league of its own due to a number of reasons (we’ll get to that). Similarly, an inside sales process flowchart will differ greatly from the one typically applied by retail organizations.

However, there are certain default, generic sales processes and procedures most teams follow to some extent. For example, here you can find some typical sales process examples:

  • Generate – whether it’s through inbound marketing or outbound outreach.
  • Qualify – i.e. by offering prospects relevant content they would want to read/download or by directly reaching out to them and inquiring about business.
  • Engage – presenting your offer, whether by showing them a pop-up with a product or conducting an in-person demo.
  • Negotiate – handle objections and nurture the prospect into buying.
  • Close – get the prospect to buy from you.
  • Repeat business – upsell or generate referrals from your customers.

Many would also talk about the 5-step sales cycle, considering the repeat business stage a part of the post-sales process.

It’s important to understand that the steps within each sales process don’t always occur in the same order and might have a different duration. After all, you can’t expect every lead to act the same way regardless of what they are buying.

For example, if we’re talking about a single low-price purchase, a warm lead can skip most of the typical stages of the sales cycle and go straight to closing (and do so pretty fast!). So you won’t need to put any effort into engaging them or negotiating the terms. 

High-ticket outbound sales, as in case of a complex IT sales cycle, typically require more effort and negotiations and can take months to finalize the terms and actually convert. As an example of a sales process in the software industry, the company implements a strategy that begins with offering a free trial to interested leads, followed by a series of educational emails, and concludes with a one-on-one consultation to discuss the product’s premium features.

The SaaS business model offers another example of a typical sales process that has its specifics.

In other words, a structured sales process is a framework, manual for generating new business. With a sales process defined, we can dive deeper into what steps are vital for sales process design.

How is the SaaS sales process different?

As mentioned above, the SaaS sales process has several distinctive features compared to other businesses:

  • Freemium or free trial options (which make it easier to convert leads into the users, but harder to turn them into paying customers).
  • Flexible pricing options, depending on product type and business model.
  • Subscription-based model – as opposed to a one-time sale.

As a result, the SaaS sales process typically has a longer and more complex sales cycle and involves more touchpoints and decision-makers along the way. It mostly refers to the consultative sales cycle model – the one that prioritizes engagement and nurturing as a means of building a long-term relationship with the customer.

Yet, even if we’re talking specifically about the SaaS sales cycle stages, there might be serious differences depending on various aspects. For example, inbound leads might purchase after a simple nurturing flow while outbound ones might require up to 5 extra SaaS sales process steps before getting to that.

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5 steps to build a sales process from scratch (+sales process flowchart template)

If you’ve closed at least one deal, you should already have some understanding of what your typical sales process looks like. All you need to do now is finalize and document it into a replicable, hands-on manual, a flowchart for your team to follow.

Here’s the action plan to build your simple sales process from scratch:

  1. Analyze your current sales processes and their performance
    The best sales process isn’t the one that is enforced but the one that comes naturally and is built around the way your business works. To start, try to understand the current sales department process flow and how effective it is.
  2. Map the buyer’s journey for every target persona
    At the same time, take a closer look at the typical path your prospects follow to become your customers and match it to the existing sales process workflow template you’ve outlined earlier. Having the two aligned is vital for building an effective sales process. Note: for every business, there are usually several customer personas that might have slightly different buyer journeys. This means you will need to document several different sales processes to cover all the possible scenarios.
  3. Plan the activities for each process stage
    Once you’ve figured out your typical sales cycle, list all the activities that go along with each one of its stages.  In addition to listing your current efforts within your sales planning process template, leave some room for experimentation, i.e. emerging sales methods or alternative engagement channels. Don’t forget to match the sales process steps to their description; it’s obvious, but important.
  4. Set goals for each step of the sales process
    To make your sales process predictable, establish consistent KPIs for each step, including the conditions for advancing the prospect to the next step of the customer sales cycle. This will add clarity to your process and make sure all of your team members are working toward the same goal. Just make sure your goals are measurable and the KPIs are realistic.
  5. Allocate responsibilities within your team
    Closing a sale isn’t solely the sales team’s responsibility. At different stages of the process, there might be other departments involved, from marketing and sales development to customer support/success and account management. So make sure each involved party knows their role and works together with the others, understanding the sales process in general and their role in it.

Lastly, when creating a sales process,  you can also include the sales tools you’re using – anything that can be used to orchestrate the activities at every step of your sales process – in the document. This will help you make sure your team members (especially the new ones) are aware of the available resources and can make the best use of them.

To help you build your own process, we’ve put together 4 sales process map templates (two of which are for SaaS sales process).

Get the sales process flowchart template

Sales process flowchart to guide your team through the process

Creating a sales process flowchart is an excellent way to visualize the steps your sales team takes from initial contact with a potential customer to closing the deal and beyond. Here’s a basic outline of what an inside sales process flowchart might look like. 

 

saas sales process template

Source: Lucidchart

You can customize this sales process map template based on your specific business needs, sales cycle, and customer journey. There are dozens of sample SaaS sales process templates you сan use while setting up your best sales process. 

Creating a visual representation of this B2B sales process flowchart can help your sales team understand their roles and responsibilities at each stage and ensure a consistent and effective sales approach. 

You can use diagramming tools like Microsoft Visio, Google Drawings, or Lucidchart for sales process mapping, and create your own sales process map that best represents your sales process flow.

Why creating a sales process is important

Establishing a sales process model is crucial for several primary reasons, each enhancing the overall efficiency, predictability, and success of a business’s sales efforts. Here’s why:

  • Consistency and replicability: A structured sales process ensures that all sales efforts are consistent, making it easier to replicate successful strategies across the sales team. This uniformity helps in maintaining a high quality of interactions with prospects and customers.
  • Efficiency and time management: By having a defined business sales process, sales teams can move prospects through the sales funnel more efficiently. It helps in identifying which activities are most effective, allowing salespeople to focus their time and resources on strategies that yield the best results.
  • Improved customer experience: A systematic approach to sales ensures that customers receive a consistent experience at each touchpoint. This predictability can build trust and improve customer satisfaction, as prospects know what to expect at each stage of their buying journey.
  • Data-driven decisions: With a clear sales process, it’s easier to collect data on what works and what doesn’t. This information can be used to refine sales strategies, train salespeople more effectively, and make informed decisions about where to invest in the sales process.
  • Better training and onboarding: New sales team members can be onboarded more effectively when there is a clear process in place. It provides them with a roadmap to success, reducing the learning curve and helping them to contribute more quickly.
  • Improved sales predictability: A structured sales process can help in forecasting sales more accurately by providing clear metrics and benchmarks at each stage of the sales funnel. This predictability is crucial for strategic planning and resource allocation.
  • Identification of bottlenecks: A well-defined sales process makes it easier to identify stages where prospects are getting stuck or lost. This allows for timely adjustments to strategies or processes to improve conversion rates.
  • Scalability: As a business grows, having a scalable sales process becomes critical. It allows for the addition of new team members, entry into new markets, and expansion of product lines without sacrificing the quality of sales efforts.

Developing a sales process lays a solid foundation for sustainable growth, optimizes sales efforts, and ensures a positive experience for the sales team and customers. It transforms sales from an art into a precise science, offering a structure that allows creativity and personal selling skills to thrive more effectively.

Pro tip: automating at least some aspects of your sales process is a great way to increase its effectiveness too. For example, you can use Reply to streamline your prospecting outreach (with a dedicated B2B contact database and AI-powered multichannel outreach sequences) and lead nurturing sales flow process. As a result, you won’t risk losing qualified leads to negligence, i.e. just because your SDR forgot to follow up or failed to engage them, and will have more time to focus on qualification and closing.

Wrapping up

Sure, sales isn’t rocket science. But there’s still a great deal of science in it – from calculating your KPIs and measuring your performance to following all the sales process best practices and proven techniques.

That is why having a solid sales process in place and closely following it throughout your organization is a must. After all, it’s impossible to build a predictable and scalable pipeline with an ad-hoc approach to sales. 

Hopefully, these tips along with the sales manual templates we’ve shared can help you build your own sales management process template and win more business.

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