Every business owner, entrepreneur, and salesperson I talk to is always looking for more leads. I get it; if you want to make more money, you need more people to talk to. But sadly, most businesses don’t actually need more leads. They need better sales processes.
Here’s the thing; most businesses wouldn’t see any difference at all if they were getting 15, 25, or even 50 more leads a month.
Many small or scaling businesses can’t handle more leads. They would be better served by focusing more energy on the ones they are already getting.
Sure, more leads make for a prettier pipeline. But what’s the point if your team misses essential steps with prospects and clients or isn’t making the most of those leads?
Let’s Do The Math on Standard Sales Processes
Most sales teams have basically the same sales cycle.
Some sales cycles include lead generation, but this is assuming you already have the leads.
Each one should go through at least the first couple of steps, but let’s pretend we have top-quality leads that make it further. That means they will go through these six steps.
The Sales Cycle for Generated Leads
- Contact a new lead (may take 3-6 tries before connecting)
- Schedule a meeting and research easy qualifications
- Discovery meeting to further qualify, uncover pains and expectations, and handle objections
- Pitch your product or service
- Generate a proposal or contract, handle any technicalities
- Present a proposal and receive a final answer
Or something like that. Each one is a little bit different, but that’s mine. (And yes, I handle objections BEFORE the pitch! I close a lot more sales that way.)
The time needed to run a process like this varies between companies. Small ticket sales, large teams, or B2C might only take a total of 45 minutes from beginning to end or might not even use each step.
But most B2B sales cycles take around 10 hours per lead, assuming they make it deep into the process.
And that doesn’t even factor in onboarding if they say yes.
So, if you’re getting 20 more high-end leads a month, do you have 200 hours to spend maximizing your effort with each one?
The easy answer and one that everyone jumps to is to hire more people.
Can I Hire More People?
That’s not necessarily the wrong answer, but it’s not feasible for everybody.
First, it takes time to hire the right salespeople, onboard them into your company, and adequately train them. You want them to be successful, and it’s on the owner or sales leader to invest in their success.
Second, if you need more money, can you afford more employees?
Third, do you have a structure and documented sales processes to support a bigger staff?
That’s what we’re really talking about here: creating processes to do more with what you have so that you can scale responsibly and successfully.
Sales Processes Make Scaling Possible
Scaling a business is just as much about your sales processes as the number of people you employ or clients you serve.
We’ve worked in lead generation before and occasionally still partner with other companies to offer LinkedIn lead gen.
The main reason we don’t advertise it anymore is that most people simply don’t need it.
On the other hand, fractional sales management can significantly impact having salespeople who are more prepared to follow tested processes, qualify prospects, and close more deals. That is typically more helpful than having more leads, at least at first.
But if you feel like lead generation is the right answer for you, at least build the right environment and sales processes to handle them first.
Unless you have massive amounts of money, most of your leads will be relatively cold and require a lot of qualifying.
(In case you don’t know, yes, hot, qualified leads exist, but they are very expensive and for a good reason. The hard work is already done for you.)
That means you need a system of questions built around your target market and standards to qualify your leads.
You don’t want clients who don’t fit in with what you do or who you can’t help well. Those all lead to trouble.
So they must have:
- pains that you can solve,
- expectations that align with the way you work,
- and a budget that fits.
The tighter your qualification sales processes are, the better clients your sales team will bring to your business.
If you want to be super successful in sales and business, you have to manage your time.
It may sound counterintuitive, but the key to managing your time is to spend a lot of it on the front end to create systems and processes that will save it in the long run.
That means building a CRM that covers every single detail of all of your sales processes.
If your sales team manages their sales pipeline appropriately, they maximize their efforts. But when they don’t, they waste time on things like chasing dead leads, apologizing for missing deadlines, not following up, or repeating actions they’ve already done.
Your CRM ensures your team does what they need to do and your clients get the best customer experience.
While you don’t want to automate everything in your business, some can save you mountains of time.
Your sales processes can include automation for scheduling, sending standard forms or documents, or following up with clients you haven’t heard back from yet.
There are so many tools to make things like this more manageable.
Scheduling tools like Calendly does all the work for you. Depending on your needs, you might not have to spend a dime on it.
Google Forms makes sending simple forms easy for you and your clients. They might not be highly designed or attractive, but they get the job done. And again, FREE!
Most CRMs can send automated messages on accounts without action in a specified time. Many even do all these things without using separate tools. You just have to take the time to build it and implement it.
And other legal/policy documents.
There is no bigger time waster than starting each proposal or contract from scratch. But a lot of people do. They believe the sale will be as good as closed once the prospect sees their fancy, personalized proposal.
But the truth is, if they’re going to say no, their mind is probably already made up. The best proposal in the world won’t change that.
That’s why your discovery conversations are so crucial.
So spend some time drafting templates for your proposals or other documents that need to be signed, and only modify things like name, company, price, and such for each client.
Time Spent on Sales Processes is Time Saved in the Long Run
Any of these tips will save you a little bit of time. But when you add them all together, they will save a lot.
That’s time you can dedicate to coaching your team, caring for your clients, scaling your business, and eventually, getting more leads and closing more deals.
Without a great system, you’ll never have a clear view of where you are each month. You’ll never know how well your clients are being taken care of. And you’ll constantly scramble to solve problems that didn’t have to happen.
Building and documenting your sales processes is vital if you want your business to thrive.