sales process for funnel vs micro processes on steps

Sales Process for Funnel vs Micro Processes on Steps

Imagine that it is your first day on the job as a Sales Rep. You have no idea how the Sales Process impacts the sales funnel. You barely know what a sales funnel is, much less the micro-processes that feed the sales process making up the sales funnel.  

You don’t really know the product. You don’t really know what to do next, but you are eager to crush your sales quota!  The company has sales processes in place for the funnel – discovery, qualification, decision making, contracting, ext.  But do they have micro-processes in each of those categories that are clearly defined to lead you to success?  What are the sales processes for the funnel vs micro-processes on steps?  

All of the excitement is totally built up inside of you, but there is one challenge – you don’t have a clue how to run a sales call.  

The Sales Process You Learned About in Training

Thinking back to the interviews and training you received when you accepted the position, you realize that there is an elaborate sales process in place.  First, you do discovery, then you qualify, then validate, then close (remember…)!  You know exactly what stages you are supposed to use, why they exist, and how to update your CRM (in theory).  Even though there are prescribed stages, there is not really clear guidance on the meta-actions within each stage.  Specifically, what do you do when actually on the call?  

Your career experience says you need to ask questions, but what questions should you ask?  “Okay,” you think, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel here, you’ll just listen to a couple of call recordings by the “Top Dogs” to figure out what to ask.  On your second call recording, you notice that it is completely different from the first. The product is complex, the customer’s needs vary greatly, and you don’t know anything about the competitor that was just mentioned; how do you even spell that?!?!  It’s going to take some time to get up to speed to be able to compete on the leaderboard.

You Have to Get Scrappy – and You’ll Take Some Hits

You spend a day or two working out the perfect questions to ask in just the right order (you basically copied the call process of the top performer…).  You have a list of questions, some semblance of an agenda outlined for your initial call, and feel better about initial demos.  You get your first real demo scheduled, and it goes ok, but you stumble through a couple of the finer points.  The “Top Dog” made it look easy, but in practice you need to learn a bunch more.  

Two weeks go by, you are more familiar with the product, have some basic questions down, and are starting to sound good when *BAM* out of nowhere you are asked “Why are you better than your competitor? You remember them from the battle card, but you can’t get to that easily in the heat of the moment.  This was the call you needed to nail to hit your ramp, but now you are left searching for another prospect that can close in time. Long story short, this is a very normal reality for new salespeople at almost every sales job. 

Changing the Status Quo for Your Process/Team/Company

When it comes to ramping new sales representatives, there is a lot that needs to be done.  First, you have to hire the right candidate, which, in and of itself, can be daunting.  Next, you need to teach them your prospecting process and how they are going to get warm-bodies on the phone.  Then they need to understand all technical demos or procedures internally.  In a complex sales cycle, there can be sales engineers, other technical resources, RFPs, RFIs, and a number of other procurement and professional hoops to jump through.  Learning this for any industry is difficult, and understanding the entire process takes time, but your business goals likely do not allow for reps to obtain years of experience before they are productive.  

There have been a bunch of blogs (all the blogs…) about the sales process and steps in the sales process, but not many talk about the need for micro actions within each step of the sales process.  When looking for talk tracks and things your reps should say in specific situations, the answer is not hard to find.  Usually, the top reps and people that have been there a little while know what to do and what to say in most situations.  

Unfortunately, hindsight is 20/20, and coaching on calls in arrears is not immediately effective.  There is a strong reason for ramp-times that are built into compensation plans for sales representatives.  That is one more reason for sales leaders to have repeatable processes within their sales process in order to get new reps up to speed.  Making your number comes down to simply having a proven sales process, with proven actions to take on each call.  Odds are, you already have the formula, it’s just teaching that same formula in a repeatable way.  

Actions to Formalize the Process

We hope that our really talented sales representatives can onboard quickly and pick up on the processes, but hope is not a strategy.   A good strategy will include micro-actions in every step of the sales process that are effective, repeatable, and easy to learn.  Here is a quick list of questions you should consider in your sales process:

Prospecting (Discovery Stages) 
  • Is there a standardized set of actions to set a meeting?  

  • Are we calling the prospect at any point?  If so, exactly how do we approach the conversation? 

  • Who do we set meetings with? Is this defined by role? 

  • Is there any way to validate that calls are happening in the prescribed way that we know to be successful? 

  • What do you actually say when someone says “hello”?

  • Who does the outreach (SDR, AE, SE?), and are there clear goals and expectations set?

  • When a meeting is set, what is the exact messaging that goes out to prospects from respective stakeholders?

  • Who is responsible for nurturing the prospect until a meeting occurs?  (also, is this happening?)

Initial Meeting (Qualifications Stages) 
  • How does the AE Prep for the meeting? 

  • What discovery questions can we answer ahead of time with simple research? (Are your reps still asking where the person is from?!?!) 

  • What does a perfect meeting look like? 

  • Is there a set “Agenda” statement 

  • Are there any “instant” disqualification questions we need to get out of the way? 

  • Is there a prescribed way to move from one topic to the next? 

  • Is there an easy way to transition from agenda to get the prospect talking?  How does a new rep do this? 

  • Are you really only doing discovery, or are you going to demo here?

  • What is the next step needed to advance the conversation?

  • Is there a prescribed statement that ties up loose ends? (i.e. what would stop the conversation from moving forward?)

  • Is there a specific way that sales representatives should ask for the next meeting time? 

  • Is there a call summary statement or methodology you follow (like summarize, bridge, pull?)

Technical Meeting (Validation/In-Process Stage)
  • How do you define who needs to be on the call?

  • Who runs the call?  

  • Is there an agenda? (if so who puts it together?) 

  • How do you transition to next steps? (is this a specific statement?) 

  • Is there a way to close out any technical influencers (get their buy-in and get them out of your sales process)?  How do reps do that? 

Transition/Contract Details/Closing Meeting (Contracting/Contract Sent Stage)
  • Is there an agenda? (if so who puts it together?) 

  • What does the outcome of the call need to be?  

  • Where do you go if things are not going your way?  

  • Is there a statement that validates/solidifies the buying stage you are in? (syncing on where we are in the process – how do the best reps do this?) 

  • Does anyone else need to be on this call? (CS or Technical resources?) 

  • How are you “closing” on this call? (literally, what do you say?)

Kickoff Call – (Closed Won Stages)
  • How do you prep for the call?

  • Do you update teammates via phone or email? 

  • Who runs the call?  

  • Is there an agenda?

  • Is there room for referrals?  How do you ask for these?

  • Is there a need for the salesperson to remain involved for any period of time?   (if so, how do you set up subsequent calls?)

Though this list could go on forever, you get the idea.  It is your responsibility as a professional to have a repeatable sales process just as it is to have a repeatable micro-process within each stage.  They don’t have to be unwavering but should serve as guidelines and best practices for the call to go well.  

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John Bunting - CTO

After being told "no, this can't be built" by 30+ other potential Technology leaders, John was the first person who said "let's try and build this!" when approached with the idea of Abstrakt. John started his career building computer games, and now builds Enterprise A.I. Software solutions.