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In order to get to where you want to go, you need a map. The sales process is no different—by mapping the steps that your organization takes to lead potential customers along the path of purchase, you’ll be more successful in reaching your goals. Here are five valuable tips to help you map your company’s sales process.

Maps. There’s nothing quite like them for getting us from point A to point B. And when it comes to your company’s sales process, mapping may be the most effective way to make sure that each and every step of that process is identified and clarified from beginning to end.

Given that 50% of sales time is wasted on unproductive prospecting, it is imperative that your organization create a detailed sales guide that eliminates inefficiency. Part of your sales strategy should be around mapping out your sales proces.

Through process mapping, your company can better collaborate across all departments to achieve sales goals and objectives. The challenge with sales process mapping lies in doing it correctly, as mistakes can undermine this tool’s potential to bring positive business results. That being said, here’s a guide to help you map out your company’s sales process successfully:

1. Sell your company on the concept

Mapping out a sales process isn’t something can be completed in a single afternoon; it’s an undertaking that requires the cooperation and collaboration of team members in all departments. Companies with closely aligned sales and marketing functions have 36% higher customer retention rates. As such, before you do anything, you need to make sure that everyone involved is on-board with the idea. For organizations that have yet to embrace more modern systems— meaning that they are focusing primarily on sales results and competition between individuals and departments—the concept of mapping out the entire sales process from end to end will most likely be met with resistance.

Questions regarding what process mapping is, what it involves, and how it will benefit everyone concerned will need to be effectively addressed. In short, you will need to sell your company on the benefits of sales process mapping before you can design or implement an effective map. Otherwise, there will be no point in proceeding to the next step.

2. Begin with the end in mind

Mapping out a journey only works if you know your destination. The same holds true for mapping out the sales process. In this case, your destination is a satisfied, paying customer. Achieving this end result is not dependent on any one department in your organization, but requires all departments—sales, marketing, servicing, etc.—to work cohesively as a team. Mapping out each step of the sales process is vital, from prospecting to closing, and especially to following up (44% of salespeople give up after a single follow-up, yet 80% of all transactions require 5–12 follow-ups before they are successful).

Factoring in the roles that all of your departments play in each of those steps from beginning to end is essential for success. 

3. Keep it customer-centric

Without customers, there would be no sales. And yet many organizations map out the sales process journey without considering what the customer is doing along the way. Customers couldn’t care less about what’s mapped out on your whiteboard. They’re on their own Customer Decision Journey, and it’s up to you and your sales force to know what that journey looks like.

Once, the old sales funnel assumed a very linear path to purchase, with customers gathering information, narrowing things down, and making the purchase decision. But in today’s digital world, a world that is more about customer behaviors, the CDJ is no longer linear and predictable. In fact, it has changed so dramatically that a whopping 68% of B2B organizations have not identified their funnel. That being said, it’s critical for your organization to identify and isolate a primary market segment and map out every stage of the journey they are taking on a whiteboard.

Focus your efforts on locating customers where they are, not where you think they should be. Social media and email marketing are both effective and inexpensive ways to contact customers and introduce them to your sales process. In fact, 78% of salespeople who use social media outsell their peers, and email marketing has twice the ROI in average that cold-calling generates. If you realign your focus so that the customer becomes your top priority, your sales force will be empowered with the ability to look at customer actions and behaviors, identify what stage of the buying journey the customer is at, and act accordingly.  

4. Identify and align work steps with stages in the customer journey

For a sales process map to be effective, it is critical that business leaders identify the work steps most closely associated with the stages of the customer journey, and then make sure that those steps and stages are properly aligned from beginning to end. Mapping this out visually will help your salespeople to see where their customers actually are in the journey, as opposed to where they might think they are. This systematic approach to the sales process will help reveal various inconsistencies within the sales force respective to the various stages of the customer journey. But that is a good thing, as one of the main purposes of mapping is to identify weaknesses and strengths within the business process, and bring everyone together to find workable and measurable solutions.

 

5. Trust and use the sales process map

Process mapping doesn’t end with a big sigh of relief and a pat on the back as you and your sales force admire the finished map on the whiteboard in the conference room or on a computer screen. As impressive as a process map can look, its real value lies in how it captures and clarifies the realities that an organization has to deal with, and then backs up those realities with evidence and data. However, the realization of that value only comes when an organization actively and consistently adheres to what the map reveals about the sales process and the customer journey. So, trust your map, and put it to work. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time.

 

A traditional map must be followed from start to finish in order to guarantee a safe and timely arrival at the desired destination, and the same rules apply to a sales process map. Getting creative, perhaps by trying a sales tool or technique at a specific stage of the customer journey that the map does not call for is a risky choice, and could end up derailing the sale altogether. However, as people in your organization begin to trust the map and the data, seeing where the problems lie in the sales process and working together to solve them, they’ll begin to experience positive results that will help to reinforce that trust.

That’s when you (and the teams within your sales organization) will start to realize the real purpose and benefits of sales process mapping. As you stick to the map and learn new and better ways to get things done, each and every step of your sales process will improve, resulting in more sales and greater competitive advantage.