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I have mapped the sales process for over 200 companies in my time. And I know you’re going to hate me for this, but what I’ve learned from mapping 200 sales processes is… you have to map your sales process.

In all the consulting I’ve done, I’ve only had three companies show me a detailed sales process map. Three out of hundreds.

Most sales leaders do not realize that their sales system is a collection of multiple processes. Once visualized in structured manner, leaders can identify gaps and implement improvements to drive results.

Sound difficult?

Six Steps for Mapping the Sales Process

Not really, but often for sales leaders this concept proves to be a tough exercise. When it comes to mapping out your sales process there are six basic steps:

Understand the Process Stages That Make up Your Sales Organization

Sales organizations are increasingly becoming a complex system of different functions. Gone are the days of a single sales rep prospecting, closing, and managing accounts. The new model of selling focuses on specialization where each functional role is broken out and managed individually.

InsideSales.com data shows that companies who effectively specialize experience a 7pt higher close rate than companies who do not. Specialization is the new model of sales and it’s time to embrace it. Here are a few examples of sales structures with companies we’ve worked with.

For example, one company has a marketing department that generates leads and sends those leads to a team of lead development reps. Those lead development reps qualify leads and send them to either an inside sales team or an outside sales team that this company calls “business development”. Now, the business development or sales team does a lot of their own prospecting by utilizing third party lists.

Before they can close a deal the underwriting team, legal team, and the customer management team need to be involved.

time management for sales study

The Six Questions to Ask About the Stages of Your Business

As you begin to understand the stages of your business make sure you answer the following six questions:

  • Stages – What functional roles does my company have in its sales structure
  • Goal – What is the primary goal of this role
  • Manager – Who manages or leads this team
  • Location – Where are these functional roles located
  • Reps – What is the total number of reps in each team or function

Once you understand the different functional areas, you need to determine how you’re going to create a current state process map for each area.

Define a Structure for Process Mapping

People get lost in what programs and shapes they should use to create a process map. Program options include, pencil and paper, Microsoft Powerpoint, Lucid Charts (free), Microsoft Visio or other free or paid programs.

When it comes to the shapes, there is a whole list of proper shapes to use in process mapping exercises. If you’re a salesperson like the rest of us, you want to do it quick and simple.

For this reason, I recommend you start with these basic shapes: action (rectangle), decision (diamond), start/stop (rounded rectangle), connection (arrow), note or number (small empty boxes to make notes or highlight a number associated with a process).

Once you’ve determined the appropriate shapes for your process map, you need a structure to start inserting your shapes into. We’ve found multiple approaches but the one that has stuck breaks down the sales process into three key areas:

  • Lead/List Acquisition – Where do you get things
  • Contacting Cadence – What do you do with things
  • Qualification and Close – How do you finish with things

the ultimate guide to sales cadence - download pdf

Map the Current State Process

It’s now time to begin mapping the current state process. In this step, you need to gather the necessary information through a series of questions typically done via individual stakeholder interviews. It’s important to target the key individuals who represent the different functional areas in your business and just ask them to go step-by-step through their day.

Here’s a few examples of roles and questions you can ask:

Demand Generation: 

  • How many different lead sources do you have and what are they?
  • Are you appending or enriching leads and lists as they come through your system?
  • How do you route or assign leads from different lead sources?

Sales Development:

  • How is your sales development team structured? (Response team, outbound team, vertical, product, etc)
  • How does a rep prioritize leads?
  • What is the contacting strategy for sales development reps?
  • Here is our numbers question: How many activities does the average rep do per person per day?

Sales:

  • How does the sales team generate new business?
  • Once, the sales team owns the prospect, what is their strategy and process to close the deal?
  • What are the opportunity stages sales reps follow to close deals?
  • Here is our numbers question: What is the average sales cycle?

Below is an example of a sales process workflow chart from Lucid:

sales process workflow chart

Source: Lucidcharts

Customer Success:

  • How does the sales team generate new business?
  • Once, the sales team owns the prospect, what is their strategy and process to close the deal?
  • What are the opportunity stages sales reps follow to close deals?
  • Here is the numbers question: What is the average retention percentage per rep?

With the all the stakeholders complete you should have the information required to map out a step-by-step process map.

state of sales 2017 research

Review the Current State for Strengths and Opportunities

Once your process map is complete, you can review it for strengths and areas of opportunity so you can begin making a plan for a future state.

Here is an example of strengths and opportunities you can identify in a sales development organization:

Strengths: use of marketing automation, lead statuses structure in place, submit opportunity function added to Salesforce.

Opportunities: batch time should be under five minutes or immediate, auto-routing leads with the CRM, response time needs to be under one hour.

Create a Future State Process Map

Once you identify strengths and opportunities in your current process, you can recreate your process in a future state where all identified opportunities are represented in an ideal form.

Here is an example future state process map:

  • Work to get our batch time down to five minutes
  • Build routing within our CRM
  • Push to get a one hour response time
  • We’ve structured a follow up strategy to include 3 calls, 3 vm, and 3 emails

Implement a Governance Structure to Periodically Manage and Improve Your Sales Process

Once your sales process map is complete, you need to to follow up periodically to review the process and see if things have decayed. With a strong governance structure for a sales acceleration project in place this is not difficult. If that does not exist you’ll need to create some form of a governance structure.

A steering committee of sales leaders and sales operations personnel should review the sales process quarterly. They can determine what types of decay and delays have been introduced. Sales operations should own the sales process and function as the operations committee while sales leadership should guide the strategy on the steering committee.

This process is similar to creating a product roadmap.

I do hope you take the time to map the sales process, you will not regret it.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn