How to map and optimize your B2B sales cycle
Document and refine your B2B sales process to fuel growth
For your B2B marketing to be truly effective, it must align with your real-world sales cycle. So, having a formal document that maps out the actual steps that your sales team uses day-to-day is key.
An effective B2B sales process should be clearly defined, goal-oriented, customer-focused, trackable and repeatable. It should enable any member of your sales teams to follow the same action steps as your best salesperson. Having your ideal selling process documented will also be a valuable tool for onboarding new staff.
Even better, once you document all the steps that each member of your sales team follows, you can spot and improve inefficiencies. So, how do you map the actual process that your sales team should optimize?
Define your current sales stages and actions.
The first step in building your ideal sales cycle is documenting a complete picture of what your sales team is currently doing. Examine the last several deals that your team closed. Write down as much detail as you can or track the steps in a spreadsheet. What were the touch points with each prospect? How much time passed between each action step? What were the similarities and differences between deals?
Ask your team to document their own sales process.
Each of your sales reps should chart their own individual process from start to finish. Ask them to individually write down the steps of their last deal. Then bring everyone together to compare notes. They may protest that it’s all in their head, but it’s critical to document the entire process in writing. A small step that may otherwise be overlooked could be the link to a big win. You can also ask them to keep a diary of their process with their next new lead.
To help you capture all the information you need, here are some examples of the types of questions you should ask.
- How was each lead acquired?
- How many attempts and methods did the sales rep make to establish contact with each lead?
- What method was used during the first successful point of contact with each lead?
- What questions were asked in the initial conversation?
- Did the subsequent attempts of contact follow a set schedule?
- How were the questions and answers recorded?
- How did the sales rep coordinate follow-up contact?
- Which files, documents or other content were sent to each lead?
- At which points were each of those resources delivered?
- What did the rep do to prepare for presentations?
- How was your company’s proposal delivered?
- What points were discussed during negotiations?
- If the lead was lost, why did it happen and what could have been done differently?
- If the sale was completed, what kind of follow up was conducted?
Once you have a full understanding of the actions taken during your sales process, dig deeper to understand all the pain points and motivations that moved each deal along the steps of the purchase journey.
Compile all the information into one sales cycle.
Combine all the actions and stages taken by each sales rep into one document. It’s okay if it’s messy at first. As you compile all the steps from your different sources, you should see patterns emerge. What steps are the most crucial? Where do prospects drop out of your B2B sales funnel most often?
So, what does a map of a B2B sales cycle actually look like? See this blog post for examples.
Now go through and remove anything that is redundant or repetitive. As you clean it up, you’ll recognize the inefficiencies and can begin to make changes. It’s important to keep your team involved in this process, as you’ll need them on board if your newly optimized sales cycle requires them to tweak any of their individual processes.
For more detail on how to map your B2B sales cycle and why it matters, see this page about “the best B2B marketing strategies to maximize your resources and growth.”
Blender is a full-service B2B marketing agency focused on accelerating growth for clients in manufacturing, healthcare, software and professional services. If you have any questions, we’re here to help.
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