Mapping The Sales Process: 7 Steps For Success

Doing sales process mapping can be fast and easy with these seven sales process steps. Keep reading to find out more.

RELATED: 7 Most Common Mistakes In Sales Process Mapping And How To Avoid Them

In this article:

  1. A Business Needs to Have a Sales Process Map
  2. What Is a Sales Process?
  3. Sales Process vs Sales Methodology
  4. Types of Sales Methodology
  5. Seven Steps for Sales Process Mapping
  6. Other Tips for Mapping Your Sales Process

Sales Process Mapping | Carve Your Path to Sales Success with These 7 Steps

A Business Needs to Have a Sales Process Map

I performed sales process mapping for years. In fact, I helped map the sales process for over 200 clients in my time.

I know you’re going to hate me for this, but there’s one thing I learned throughout this experience: you can’t escape doing sales mapping. You need to map your sales process.

In all the consulting I did, I had only three companies show me a detailed sales process map. Yes, just three out of hundreds.

It’s actually shocking to know most companies don’t have or have yet to develop sales process steps for mapping and other crucial revenue-generating activities.

Most sales leaders don’t realize their sales system is actually a collection of multiple processes. Some may even have just a simplistic view about it.

These executives may think it’s as straightforward as making a product, marketing it, and then selling it to different market segments.

Sales process mapping is one of the most effective visualization tools sales executives can use to see both the big picture and the intricacies of each step. It helps you understand the real flow of their sales process in a structured manner.

Through this, leaders can then identify gaps and other challenges in their sales performance. Sales territory mapping can also help organizations establish their sales methodology and improve sales process steps.

A sales mapping tool can help companies find a solution that drives improved results.

What Is a Sales Process?

Before we get into mapping the sales process steps, let’s first determine what it is exactly.

Sales process basically refers to the steps sales professionals follow from prospecting to closing a deal with a customer. By establishing a structured sales process to follow, turning a prospect into a closed client becomes easier to do for salespeople.

Throughout the buying process for a product or service, sales reps make decisions by following the system established through mapping proper sales work.

There are five steps in the sales process:

  1. Prospecting – Lead generation happens in this step when sales teams look for possible customers to help work through the sales process. Sourcing may happen through online searches, attending events, or networking at conferences.
  2. Connecting – Sales reps then go through the prospect list gathered and makes initial connections to these people. The decision to continue with the sales process steps for every potential client happens here.
  3. Researching – Once the company’s product or service is established as relevant to the potential customer’s needs, the sales rep begins researching to create a more tailored sales experience for the client.
  4. Presenting – Presentations should be given to more serious prospects, as a result of research done on the customer’s needs. Sales teams should refrain from presenting to a new customer since that may end up as a waste of time for both parties.
  5. Closing – Any activities contributing to the closing of a deal falls in this step. This step is concluded with signed contracts or payments made and is mutually beneficial to both the sales organization and the customer.

Sales Process vs Sales Methodology

It’s also important to differentiate the sales process and sales methodology before mapping out your sales system.

While concrete and specific steps geared towards closing a deal make up the sales process, sales methodology refers to the general framework to be followed for how the processes should be laid out.

How your team proceeds with their work depend on the sales methodology your company employs to reach your overall sales goals. It guides the decision-making process of the sales team from the sales manager down to the sales reps.

Types of Sales Methodology

Companies employ these sales methodologies to streamline every buyer’s journey according to the processes established.

  1. Challenger Sales Methodology – Sales reps figure out the challenges a prospective customer faces and offer tools or services to solve these issues.
  2. Consultative Selling – The sales rep builds trust with the client over time, which may result in possible repeat business with existing buyers.
  3. Sandler Sales Methodology – Both the sales rep and a prospective customer invest an equal amount of time in the process so issues are raised and resolved early.
  4. Solution Selling – As the name suggests, this methodology focuses on the solution the product can offer to the client’s problem or needs, instead of the product itself.
  5. Inbound Selling – This method attracts a potential customer by tailoring marketing materials with relevant content instead of random creative adverts.

Seven Steps for Sales Process Mapping

Is sales mapping difficult? In reality, it’s not, but often for sales leaders, this concept proves to be a tough exercise.

When it comes to mapping out your sales process, there are seven basic steps:

1. Understand the Process Stages That Make Up Your Sales Organization

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Creating a sales process map to refine the sales process

Sales organizations are becoming a complex system of different functions. Gone are the days when a single sales rep does all the prospecting, closing, and managing of accounts.

The new model of selling focuses on specialization. Team members perform a specific functional role, which they manage individually.

XANT data shows companies that effectively specialize experience a 7% higher close rate than companies that 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:

One company has a marketing department that generates leads. It then sends those leads to a team of lead development reps.

Those lead development reps qualify leads. They send them to either an inside sales team or an outside sales team this company calls “business development.”

Now, the business development or sales team does a lot of their own prospecting by utilizing third-party lists.

There’s another step before closing a deal. It involves several teams, including the:

  • Underwriting team
  • Legal team
  • Customer Management or Customer Service team

The Five 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 five questions:

  • Stages — What functional roles does my company have in its sales structure?
  • Goal — What are the primary goals 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.

2. Define a Structure for Sales Mapping

People get lost in what software they should use to create a process map.

Some popular sales mapping tools include:

  • Pencil and paper
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Lucid Charts (free)
  • Other free or paid programs

When it comes to the shapes, there is a whole list of choices 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:

  • Rectangle: Action
  • Diamond: Decision
  • Rounded Rectangle: Start/stop
  • Arrow: Connection
  • Small empty boxes to make notes or highlight a number associated with a process: Note or number

Of course, you’re free to designate these shapes to other types of processes. What’s important is they’re easy to understand and follow.

Once you’ve determined the appropriate shapes for your process map, you need a structure to start inserting your shapes into.

We’ve tested multiple approaches, but the one that stuck breaks down the sales process into three key areas:

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

3. 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, which can be done through a series of questions.

It can be through individual stakeholder interviews. It’s important to target the key individuals who represent the different functional areas in your business.

These questions don’t need to be long or complex. It can be as simple as asking them their daily step-by-step sales process.

Here are 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 do you structure your sales development team? Do you have a 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?


  • 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?

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 our numbers question: What is the average retention percentage per rep?

When you ask these questions, you should be able to complete the necessary information to map out a step-by-step process map.

You may feel these are a lot of questions. Let me give you a visualization then. Here is an example of a sales process workflow chart from Lucid.

RELATED: 4 Simple Questions That Will Transform Your Sales Process

4. Review the Current State for Strengths and Opportunities

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Reviewing a sales process map for accuracy

Once your process map is complete, you can review it for strengths. You can also identify areas of opportunity.

From these, you can begin making a plan for a future state.

What are the different sales and opportunities? Here is an example 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

5. Create a Future State Process Map

Remember, earlier, I mentioned it’s essential companies have a sales map? Let me explain why you need to have this ability.

Once you identify strengths and opportunities in your current process, you can recreate your process in a future state. You can then identify opportunities and represent them 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.
  • Structure a follow-up strategy to include three calls, three voicemails, and three emails.

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

The first five steps should do more than acquaint you with sales mapping. They must let you make one now.

The job is not over, though. One important step is periodic management.

Once your sales process map is complete, make a periodic follow-up. This follow-up should review the process.

It will let you see if some parts of the process already broke down. In other words, they are no longer working.

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 every quarter. They can determine the types of decay and delays present.

Sales operations should own the sales process. They can function as the operations committee.

Sales leadership, meanwhile, should guide the strategy on the steering committee.

Do you want to know the other benefit of sales mapping? This process is similar to creating a product roadmap.

7. Apply the Improved Sales Process Map

Once you’ve finished all the steps listed above, it’s time to apply the changes and see how it works for your organization. Since there’s a new set of metrics in place, the entire sales team needs to be re-trained.

Although you might not end up perfecting your sales process after doing sales process mapping, it doesn’t mean you should hesitate and not apply the changes.

If you don’t set this new process in place, then you wouldn’t know which areas to dial down on and which areas to improve.

Other Tips for Mapping Your Sales Process

1. Use the Customer Journey as Reference

When mapping out the steps during sales mapping, it’s best that you use the customer journey map as a reference. In that way, your sales team is aligned with whatever it is that prospects need during the sales cycle.

Each of your prospects might have differing needs for each step of the way so you should consider that when mapping out your sales process.

2. Include Everyone Involved in the Sales Process

Ask yourself this question: during your entire sales cycle, from sales prospecting to customer retention efforts, is your sales team the only department involved within the organisation?

Of course not, right? This is why should include other stakeholders in sales mapping.

To create a truly accurate sales mapping reference, make sure that you’re in tune with all of the people you involved in the sales process.

3. Make Sure the Steps Aren’t Too Specific nor Too Vague

When crafting the steps for your sales mapping experience, make sure that you don’t focus too much on the smallest details of the sales process. To be able to get good insights from your sales mapping efforts, you should be able to look at the big picture instead of getting lost in the details.

Also, don’t make the steps too ambiguous either. Otherwise, no one would be able to understand exactly what to do at a specific step of the map.

4. Map Your Sales Process and Not the Other Way Around

Instead of trying to accommodate your sales process into a specific type of map, you shouldn’t water down your sales process just because you think it’s too long or too short. Be accurate in your assessments.

Your sales mapping efforts are so you can see things as objectively as possible. Tweaking your sales map to fit the process you want won’t really help.

5. Use a Sales Mapping Tool to Be More Efficient

There are many ways you can be more efficient when mapping out your sales process. One of them is by incorporating sales mapping software.

With the help of a process mapping tool, you’d be able to see which actions lead to better sales and which still need improvement.

Aside from that, a process mapping tool can help you keep a better eye on key metrics so you can get a better insight into your sales process.

It’s possible to create a sales structure for your team fast. I do hope you take the time to map the sales process. You will not regret it.

Does your company perform sales mapping? Share your sales process steps in the comments section below.

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on May 14, 2018, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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