Imagine your marketing team is doing well. They use all green metrics and sales process components to measure success. While your sales team is not feeling the effects of their efforts, they spend too much time prospecting instead of closing. Why is this happening?
There is a disconnect between marketing and sales in many organizations:
- Leads coming in are unqualified, according to the sales team.
- The marketing department says the sales team is unable to close deals.
- Warm leads can’t be distinguished from cold leads, and high-value leads can’t be distinguished from low-value leads.
- The disconnect isn’t even visible.
Are you familiar with this?
Implementing sales development into your existing process is the first step toward aligning marketing and sales.
How Does Sales Process Components Work?
The process of sales development involves preparing leads or prospects for a purchase decision.
The following steps make up a complete sales process:
- Connecting and qualifying
- Handling objections
Essentially, sales development falls between stages 1 and 2 of that process.
What is the Purpose of a Sales Development Process?
Inbound marketing requires sales development because your marketing team is likely generating leads at all stages of the buyer’s journey, such as using an eCommerce store on Woocommerce and WordPress with third-party sales funnels, direct marketing, and engaging with customers, email and social media marketing, which are among the most popular mediums. At the time they become leads, many prospects may not be ready for sales outreach (yet!). Sales reps will only waste their time on a call if the lead isn’t ready (or, worse, alienate them).
As a result of effective sales development, prospects are better prepared for decision-making once they are handed over to closers, making the close of the deal easier.
“In simplest terms, sales are responsible for selling directly to customers. The purpose of business development is to sell to the end customer, in a scalable way,”
says Andrew Dumont, who advises several early-stage startups. A good sales development process components will increase the number of deals your sales team closes, giving them more time to sell.
Developing a Sales Development Process
The sales development process consists of three stages:
- Marketing and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) identification
- Keeping those leads engaged
- Making those leads into real sales opportunities
If marketing and sales are not aligned, then this won’t happen by itself.
If you are interested in implementing your process, here are some steps you can take:
1. Describe the qualities of each stage of the lifecycle after a prospect becomes a lead
Having a website visitor download an ebook does not necessarily mean they are a prospect. As a result, lumping everyone under the umbrella term “lead” creates confusion.
A marketing team’s task is to nurture leads who aren’t ready yet and identify those who are close to making a purchase.
Market-qualified leads (MQLs) are leads that the marketing team flags as ready for sale. The next lifecycle stage is crucial because they may be right, or they may be wrong.
Sales Qualified Leads (SQL) are MQLs that the sales team has now flagged as qualified prospects. Afterward, they must qualify and engage that SQL until they become a real sales opportunity.
A clear understanding of what your sales team is looking for is necessary for your marketing team to generate MQLs. The goal here is not to put all the qualification burden on your marketers, but rather to provide a loose framework for increasing the number of MQLs that turn into SQLs and reducing the sales reps’ workload by eliminating bad leads.
2. Pipeline gaps should be identified
The process can now be broken down into stages, such as MQL, SQL, and Opportunity. Inquire about the efforts of each department’s key individuals, such as:
- What are the best-fit leads?
- How do you disqualify a lead immediately?
- Before a sales rep contact you, what needs to happen so the conversation can be productive?
- When it comes to prospecting and engaging, where are you wasting the most time?
- What can marketing do to better nurture and qualify leads who aren’t ready to buy?
In addition to providing insights into where the gaps are between MQLs and SQLs, these questions can also provide insight into where the gaps are between SQLs and Opportunities.
3. Close those gaps by establishing a process
- Is there a step that’s missing? Who will be responsible for it going forward?
- How can marketing activities be added to improve sales enablement?
- How can reps have more meaningful conversations with customers?
- What can technology do to support the alignment between marketing and sales? How do you score leads? Lead nurturing that is automated?
4. Establish a Service-Level Agreement (SLA) between marketing and sales
SLAs (service-level agreements) are contracts that establish deliverables from one party to another. After identifying gaps and achieving clarity, an SLA can be developed to document what needs to happen before, during, and after the hand-off and what success looks like.
We want both departments to agree on definitions and roles so they can take ownership of their responsibilities while understanding how they contribute to the organization’s broader goals.
5. Start the process
It will be easier for marketing and sales development teams to support each other and for sales to qualify and close leads with clearly defined roles and SLAs.
Keep an eye on the process, and don’t be afraid to adjust it as the team adjusts and you learn more about what works.
As you invest more into these efforts, here are some additional things to consider.
Sales Development Process: 5 Essential Components
To advance prospects through the buying journey, sales development processes need to contain several strategic elements. You should include the following in your sales development process.
1. Workflow-friendly CRM
CRM platforms are only useful if they support the working methods of your sales representatives, rather than creating unnecessary administrative requirements.
To conduct prospecting activities efficiently, sales development reps must choose the right CRM and sales software.
“Sales development refers to the way the sales team reaches their customers with their products and services. The goal is to ensure that the method used to reach new prospects is cost-effective and effective in creating long-term customers,” says Mark Hunter of The Sales Hunter.
2. Qualification of Leads in a Robust Way
How does a lead qualify? When does a lead become a prospect, and when does a prospect become ready to be transferred to your sales closing team? The greatest efficiency in sales development can be achieved by defining and applying clear processes for evaluating leads.
Sales development wastes valuable time with non-qualified leads; likewise, sending prospects to sales closers who are not adequately educated about the product or service can result in a loss of otherwise targeted prospects who could have converted if they had been nurtured properly.
Leads move through the buying journey based on these definitions and processes for qualifying and nurturing leads. All sales process component teams need a comprehensive understanding of these concepts, including marketing, sales development, and sales closing.
“Create specific processes for your reps to follow with the mindset of specialization in place. By onboarding reps quickly and effectively, you can define best practices for your team. Creating a playbook will include everything from your hiring strategy to the cadence you use to contact prospects,” suggests Greg Klingshirn in a Forbes article.
3. A Central Content Management Portal
To educate prospects and qualify leads, sales development representatives use a variety of collateral and content assets. Sales reps often find themselves wasting valuable time searching for and educating leads on specific selling points because these assets exist in silos.
Due to the difficulty in locating assets, reps often use less effective materials to meet their general needs. By managing a central database containing approved sales collateral that is tagged and classified based on buyer personas and stages along the buyer’s journey, you equip your sales development team with the tools they need to influence purchasing decisions.
4. Sales Analytics
Additionally, sales analytics provide data that informs sales development representatives on the most effective sales materials based on buyer personas and the various stages in the buying journey by providing easy access to content assets to support sales development teams at every phase of the buying journey.
Marketing can only optimize programs if they have the right data. Reps are notoriously incompetent at maintaining accurate data, but sales leadership cares about sales forecasts (for good reason). Well-managed sales development teams provide remarkably good data, however. “Sales development teams live in the CRM application all day and are incentivized to get good data to marketing to simplify their lives,” Craig Rosenberg writes for the TOPO blog. Your lead qualification process is streamlined when your reps are equipped with the right materials, for the right prospects, at the right time.
5. A Means for Collaboration and Feedback
To continuously improve, both marketing and sales must contribute continuously to sales development. Most effective sales component development processes include feedback mechanisms. By doing so, marketing teams can provide information to sales development representatives about the nuances and challenges associated with sales leads, while sales teams can provide feedback on prospects’ readiness and the ease at which prospects can be converted.
Wrapping It Up
Sales process components of development processes are used in some form by all sales organizations, regardless of how they are defined. By carefully constructing your processes and thoroughly training your marketing and sales teams, you’ll generate more qualified leads and close more sales. Boost efficiency and achieve superior returns with a strategic, data-driven sales development plan.