The success of any for-profit business directly relates to its ability to sell its products or service offerings. In any market, companies that struggle to maintain continuous cash flow typically do not last very long.
To maintain the profitability of their business, organizations often have a sales department in place that is dedicated to bridging the gap between the products and services they offer and their potential customers. In general, company sales departments have one main objective: to convert customer leads into sales to increase the bottom line.
To achieve this goal, sales teams must be able to strategically manage their sales department processes. It’s important to keep in mind that successful sales management is more complex than simply generating and following through with sales leads.
In any business, sales management typically involves the following processes:
- Hiring and training sales personnel
- Motivating and managing sales staff
- Planning and strategizing lead generation
- Forecasting company sales
- Setting sales goals and quotas
- Executing a comprehensive sales plan
By strategically implementing these sales management processes, businesses will be able to boost their sales performance and stay competitive in an ever-changing marketplace.
In this article, we will explore the key components of the sales management process, the benefits of mapping out sales management processes, and how to use process visualization tools such as MindManager® to map out sales management processes for your organization.
Key components of the sales management process
The sales management process may vary slightly from company to company. This being said, the sales management process can generally be broken down into three sectors: operations, strategy, and analysis.
Sales operations can be divided into two key roles: the sales manager and the salespeople.
A good sales manager should act as a conductor, ensuring that the team functions in a unified and cohesive manner to achieve set sales goals. Sales managers are often involved in each step of the sales process, from prospecting to closing. More specifically, sales managers are responsible for:
- Recruiting, hiring, and developing a sales team.
- Setting realistic sales goals and quotas.
- Providing their sales team with the tools and resources they need.
- Measuring and tracking individual and team performance.
- Motivating and mentoring their sales team.
- Ensuring coordination between their sales team and other internal departments.
Sales managers should be excellent motivators, communicators, and leaders, as they are the backbone of a successful sales department
On the other hand, salespeople are the client-facing company representatives that directly interact with customers during each phase of the sales process. In general, salespeople are responsible for:
- Identifying and catering to individual customer needs.
- Pitching relevant product or service offerings to customers.
- Ensuring that customers have a positive purchase experience.
In most organizations, sales personnel are expected to reach specific sales targets on a weekly or monthly basis. On a daily basis, sales representatives’ duties may include:
Generating leads through various channels (e.g., social media, email, phone calls).
Negotiating with customer leads and using persuasion techniques to land deals.
Participating in company meetings to recap sales accomplishments.
Submitting and processing customer orders to ensure product/service offerings are delivered in a timely manner.
Staying up to date with industry trends and maintaining a strong network of clientele.
Together, a company’s sales manager and sales personnel maintain sales operations to ensure that the company they work for consistently meets or exceeds its sales targets.
Sales strategy is concerned with how a company defines their sales process, including the different phases of the sales pipeline and what sales methodologies are currently being used. In other words, a company’s sales strategy should adequately define the customer journey from potential prospect to loyal customer.
It’s important to note that the specifics of the sales process will vary from one organization to the next. However, most sales pipelines involve the following phases:
Generate leads. Sales teams can generate new leads through advertisements, promotional activities, or public relations. Typically, sales teams will target potential customers that fit the profile of their existing customer base.
Qualify leads. Once a salesperson tracks down a lead, they must then determine if the lead is viable. To do so, they often use the lead qualification process, which evaluates if they are both willing and financially capable of purchasing a company’s products or service offerings.
Meet with prospects. After the lead has been verified, the salesperson will schedule a meeting or demo with the prospect to introduce them to the company’s offerings.
Propose available product or services. Once the prospect has been introduced to the product or service a business has to offer, the salesperson can then make a strong case for why the prospect should purchase. During this phase of the sales pipeline, sales representatives should state their competitive advantages, adjust pricing, and manage customer expectations to come to a mutually beneficial agreement with the prospect.
Close the deal. Once both the prospect and the sales representative agree on the terms of the sale, the salesperson can then close the deal. Closing the deal simply means that the prospect has been converted into a customer, enabling the order fulfillment process to move forward. This is signified by a signed agreement, usually in the form of a binding contract.
Practice customer retention.After closing the deal, a salesperson typically monitors the customer’s account to cross-sell new services or upsell popular products or services that complement their initial purchase. When customer contracts near expiration, it is the job of sales personnel to entice existing customers with renewal options.
When creating a comprehensive sales strategy for a business, be sure to choose a sales methodology that will help your sales personnel turn leads into customers. It’s important to remember that not all sales methodologies serve the same purpose, meaning that the best sales methodology for your business will depend on the following factors:
- The industry or industries your business operates within.
- The product or services your business offers.
- The customer base your business intends to target.
Remember that sales methodologies are theoretical philosophies that teams use to develop sales techniques. So, although other businesses may use the same sales methodology as your organization, your sales process will often be unique to your company’s brand.
A good sales department is always looking for new ways to improve their sales management processes. Collecting and analyzing data regarding company sales enables sales teams to assess each aspect of their sales operation to ascertain performance and whether or not sales targets are being met.
Sales analysis is based on quantifiable or key performance indicators (KPIs). Common metrics that sales teams may use to measure whether or not they have met previously set sales goals include closing ratios, average deal size, conversion rate, average revenue per user, and annual recurring revenue, among others.
Data collection and analysis also helps sales teams assess how their target audience responds to their sales management processes. This enables sales departments to attract new customers, serve existing customers effectively, and boost both acquisition and retention rates.
Benefits of mapping out sales management processes
An organization’s success over time is greatly based on their sales department’s ability to continuously improve their sales management processes.
Most businesses tend to use customer relationship management (CRM) solutions to track and analyze their company’s sales. However, most CRM tools track sales metrics using spreadsheets and overly detailed reports that are difficult for sales teams to digest upfront.
Instead of trying to draw sales insights from statistic-heavy CRM tools, try visually mapping out your organization’s sales management processes using a contemporary mind mapping solution.
By doing so, your sales department will be able to increase process transparency among sales personnel and gain valuable insights as to which sales management processes are working well and which need to be improved.
Mind mapping solutions provide sales departments with valuable data visualization tools such as process maps, flowcharts, sales funnel charts, and workflow diagrams. These visualization tools can be leveraged to help sales teams better understand and identify opportunities to improve their sales management processes, such as the lead generation or conversion process.
By using a mind map to outline an organization’s sales management processes, sales teams will be able to reap the following benefits:
Increased number of qualified leads. By using visualization tools to improve an organization’s sales management processes, sales departments will be better able to filter out leads with low purchasing potential. This shortens the sales cycle and enables sales teams to focus their efforts on customers with the highest purchasing potential.
Improved forecasting. Mapping out the sales management process helps sales managers gain a clearer understanding of what phase of the sales cycle each individual salesperson is currently in. Sales managers can use this information to set sales quotas and predict win rates more accurately.
Expedited salesperson onboarding. Process maps, flowcharts, sales funnel charts, and other process visualization tools make for great learning materials for new sales personnel, as they offer concrete steps for new salespeople to learn and follow. For instance, comprehensive sales management process maps contain information like what outcomes are expected and what skills must be performed for each phase of the process. This information can be used by new salespeople to help them understand what is expected of them in the workplace.
Enhanced time management. By clearly mapping out the specifics of an existing sales management process, businesses will be able to identify which sales efforts are effective, and which are not. This enables sales departments to eliminate ineffective sales practices and replace them with more effective sales strategies that shorten the duration of the sales cycle, saving sales teams valuable time and energy.
How to use MindManager to improve your organization’s sales management processes
Without having the proper process visualization tools at your team’s disposal, identifying opportunities to improve your sales management processes can seem quite intimidating.
MindManager® is a complete mind mapping solution that offers a wide variety of customizable mind mapping templates that can be used to outline and improve an organization’s sales management processes.
Using MindManager’s coediting feature, sales teams can easily work together on a process map or sales funnel chart simultaneously to improve their sales management processes. MindManager also features drag-and-drop functionalities, making it easy for sales personnel to contribute to sales management process diagrams, no matter their technical aptitude.