Candice Coots
Content Marketing at SetSail
Table of contents:

If you don’t have a robust and proven sales process for your reps to follow, your reps will have no clear direction when selling and their conversion rate will suffer.

On the other hand, having an effective sales process has been proven to increase morale and productivity, boost conversions, shorten your sales cycle, build stronger customer relationships, and help create a culture of winning.

With so many upsides, you’re probably wondering what the downsides are.

There’s really only one - it’s not easy building sales processes that reps trust, believe in, and are willing to follow.

With the right tools, however, it’s not that difficult.

Where do I start?

In this digital age of selling, quality sales data is what drives success.

SetSail collects more data points than any other sales software on the market. It’s also the only sales software to use a combination of AI and behavioral science to help businesses turn their sales data into better sales behaviors.

This empowers you with accurate, data-backed insights to build a sales process around the behaviors and actions that are actually driving sales.

Sales used to be an all or nothing game. Make a sale, get a commission.

This game lacked ways in which to increase your chance of winning. Because of that, most reps didn't hit their quota.

20% of reps driving 80% of the revenue on average has become a norm.

With new data available and this shift to digital and machine learning, that is all changing.

It turns out the best reps do the basics right at the right moment during the sales cycle.

Before you read our guide on how to build a sales process that reps will follow, download our Signal-Based Selling eBook to learn how to focus on sales signals to close deals. AI expands your ability to win more and win fast by realigning sales around small victories that lead to greater success.

Now let's dive into why it’s important to have a sales process, and how you can build a successful sales process that will motivate and encourage your reps.

What Is a Sales Process?

Think back to your childhood when you drew a hopscotch game on the pavement, it was a simple game of hitting all the squares in order to get to the end.

A sales process is just as easy.

It is a series of repeatable steps that a salesperson takes while working with a prospective buyer from the initial contact all the way through to closing the deal.

Another way of explaining it from a customer’s perspective is that a sales process takes a customer from realizing they need a product to purchasing that product.

Having a strong sales process in place helps reps consistently sell more, reduces the time it takes to close on sales, and provides new hires an easy framework to work with.

Why Having a Sales Process Is So Important

Building a sales process is essentially handing your reps a map to buried treasure.

Without a plan of action or a map guiding your sales reps on their journeys with customers, they will not have a clear picture on how to close the sale.

Most sales reps look to their peers for guidance when it comes to selling. This is especially true for reps looking up to top sellers and new hires alike.

Having a standardized sales process in place helps new hires get up to speed quicker, which can save you a small fortune by reducing ramp time and retaining new hires longer.

On the other end of the sales spectrum, having top sellers refining sales processes helps other reps raise their game and replicate what’s working.

The bottom line is; with a standardized sales process and framework in place, sales reps will be more productive, they’ll sell more, and as a sales leader, you’ll be able to better monitor and optimize performance.

There is no downside to building a sales process. The worst-case scenario is that some reps will not follow it, and if they don’t, their performance will show you exactly how that works out for them.

The 7 Sales Process Steps

Now you know what a sales process is and why it’s so important to create one that your reps will follow, here are the core steps that go into crafting fruitful sales processes.

1. Prospecting

It all starts with prospecting to bring new leads into your sales process.

Prospecting is discovering new, early stage leads to begin working through the sales process.

Prospecting takes up a large portion of most rep’s workflow, and how your reps perform prospecting will be unique to your business.

What should be constant across all sales teams, however, is how you track and improve your prospecting to increase the number of qualified leads your reps are bringing into your pipeline.

2. Connecting with Prospects

After finding these new prospects, it’s important to ensure that they are quality leads that will likely continue on their buyer's journey.

This is completed by reps connecting with the prospects and determining whether or not they are a viable lead and a good fit for your business.

This connection can take form in a 20 minute “discovery” phone call, or email sequence, where the right questions are asked that will surface your customers' motivation.

The language and actions that are used to qualify leads are something you can monitor with SetSail.

This enables you to identify the actions that are leading to better-qualified leads and help other reps replicate them ultimately leading to boiling down the best practices to ensure excellence.

3. Tailoring Your Approach

With leads entering your pipeline, the next step in your sales process is to learn more about the customers, or companies, so you can better tailor their experience.

This is a crucial part of every sales process. The better you can understand your customers, the better you can tailor their experience and the higher your conversion rate will be.

Making sure your sales reps are knowledgeable regarding a customer or company will prove their commitment to their buyer's journey.

4. Pitching to Customers

Pitching or selling to a customer is the next step in the process. This is typically the most time-consuming step and relies heavily on the success of the previous steps.

Pitching is crucial, time and effort should be present to demonstrate to your patron that you are serious with their buyer’s journey. Therefore make sure reps are pitching to only promising customers to ensure that your reps time is not wasted.

Again, using SetSail you can track every single interaction from both the rep and customer side. You can use time-based, milestone, or any form of custom metrics to measure and improve the effectiveness of this step.

5. Dealing With Objections

We’re sure you’re well aware that objections from customers are not uncommon. Therefore, you should always have a step within your sales process that deals precisely with any objections or questions from customers.

This is one of the key learning steps in a sales process and should not be ignored.

The different pain points customers have and how your product helps solve those pain points are highlighted during objections, sequentially teaching your reps how to better communicate this message earlier in the process.

6. Closing Deals

Closing a deal or getting the ‘big win’ is the moment all reps are working towards. This is when a rep earns a commission, gets to chalk up another sale on the board, and gets one step closer to hitting their quota.

Obviously, this is an important part of the process. Although the techniques depend on what you’re selling and your company procedures.

7. Aftercare and Nurturing

In most cases, the sales process does not end when a deal is closed.

 Reps are also responsible for making sure the customer is happy with their purchase, and forwarding them to the customer success team or to whatever process you have for keeping them in your ecosystem.

You want to maintain the relationship with your customers to keep the door open for referrals and reviews.

Implementing Your Sales Process

Now that you have the steps of building your sales process, let’s talk about the implementation of it into your business.

Find the treasure

Unlike a real treasure hunt, you want to first start at the end, with identifying your goals.

Identifying and setting these goals from the start sets your team up by starting everyone off on the same foot and with the same understanding of what they are working towards.

Call a team huddle

Bring your stakeholders in on these goals, you want to make sure that everyone who is influenced by the sales process in your company is aware of the goals that are being set.

This ensures that everyone is up to date and that everyone is motivated in the pursuit to meet these goals.

Discuss the sale process steps

Now that your team is aware of the goals that are set, it’s time to walk them through the sales process you have created with the previous 7 steps that will actualize reaching these targets.

Center conversations around the following:

  • What steps are effective?
  • What step did we see the most customers drop out?
  • What steps took the longest? Shortest?
  • What steps need improvement? How can we improve these steps?

Discuss the buyer's journey

Not only do you need to focus on the sales process, it’s equally important to put yourself in your customers shoes and examine their buyer’s journey.

Understanding how your customer interacts with and reacts to your sales process will keep your sales process tuned up and your reps customer focused.

Talk with your reps and your customer service team to make sure feedback doesn’t go unnoticed but is implemented to better the customer's journey.


The final step is to gather all the data you have collected in the steps above and implement it into your sales process and business.

Don’t be frustrated if some of the changes you have made don’t work. Instead, use that as even more data to tweak and tinker to optimize your sales process.

Track the changes you make, test to see what is working, document what is not, and repeat these steps as your business takes shape.

How to Build an Effective Sales Process Your Reps Will Follow

Analyze the Effectiveness of Your Current Sales Process

Analyze how effective your current sales process is and identify what’s currently working well, and what isn’t working so well.

This is made easy using SetSail. SetSail collects a huge number of data points around key sales behaviors and enables you to identify the actions, behaviors, and elements of your process that is driving sales.

Not only does SetSail collect, cleanse, and enrich data points, it also leverages AI and machine learning technology to help uncover insights into your most effective processes and your reps’ actions.

This arms you with knowledge of which aspects of your current process are working, and the areas that are in need of improvement.

Use Customer Personas to Map the Buyer's Journey

Customer personas or buyer personas as they’re also called are semi-fictional archetypes that represent key traits of your average or target customers.

By creating a customer persona for your reps, you empower them with the knowledge and foresight into what your customers are looking for.

You can also look at your sales process from the perspective of your customers. This makes mapping out your customer’s journeys much easier; you can identify and address pain points, better tailor your resources and sales process to your customers, and so on.

Identify the Customer Actions That Move Them Through Your Sales Process

Next, identify and understand the actions that are moving customers from one stage to the next in your sales process.

The key to identifying these actions is understanding what is causing your customers to respond.

90% of what SetSail rewards is based on the customer’s response. Because we know that no matter what reps are doing, unless they’re getting positive responses from customers, it’s all in vain.

You can drill down and look at things like; what form of interaction is securing meetings, the language customers are responding to, how new prospects are being found, and much more.

Identify the 'Exit Criteria' From Your Reps

Understanding the actions moving customers through your process is one-half of the action. The other half is understanding the exit criteria your reps need to know to make sure customers are moving smoothly through your sales process.

You can use SetSail to identify which reps are performing the best, and exactly what the actions or the exit criteria are that they’re using to move customers along the sales process.

This enables you to provide coaching to the reps that are underperforming, and essentially gives you the blueprint from your top-performing reps.

Continually Track and Improve

Sales is a fast-moving environment. If you’re not continually monitoring key metrics in your sales processes and looking for ways to make improvements, you’re going to lose ground on your competitors.

With SetSail you can set as many custom KPIs as you want. This enables you to monitor the metrics that matter to you, in real-time.

Enabling you to continually uplift the most important behaviors, and more importantly, adjust as your customers and your market does based on real data.

Understanding Sales Methodologies

Now that you understand the sales process, let’s discuss sales methodologies which are similar but very different.

How are they different?

  • A sales process is the hopscotch of completing sales, a concrete set of steps that you are able to map out.
  • Sales methodology is the overall philosophy a company enacts to promote growth through the sales process

Determining a Sales Methodology

Enacting a sales methodology further implements harmony throughout the buyer’s journey and the sales process, ensuring your reps are in sync.

There are various different sales methodologies and it's important to choose the one that will best suit your business. Let’s discuss some popular approaches:

  • Solution Selling
  • Identifying the customers pain point and selling as an “antidote” to that pain point  
  • Consultative Selling
  • Only possible when the customer has a trusting, developed relationship with the sales rep, giving the sales rep authority and the customer trust  
  • Challenger Sales Methodology
  • Where the sales rep becomes the ‘challenger’, learning about the customer, their pain points, and business to teach the customer why they should buy
  • Inbound Selling
  • Tailoring content to lure in specific customers, as opposed to insignificant content to the masses  
  • The Sandler Selling System
  • The buyer and seller are equally invested in the sale, in the end the customer is the one convincing the seller to make the deal

All in all, sales methodologies will help enhance your sales process. Whatever methodology you choose, make sure that it fits the culture of your business and that your reps are supporting it.

Not sure what culture your business is embodying? Use Setsail to receive quality data relating to   key sales behaviors, enabling you to identify the actions, behaviors, and elements of your process that are driving sales.


Building a sales process that your reps will follow will help your sales team attract more qualified leads, close more deals, and importantly it builds team morale.

Building sales processes is something that’s often overcomplicated.

Our goal in this article was to show you that it doesn’t need to be complicated. By using the right software and taking a data-driven approach you can be sure you’re building a sales process that works.

That’s where SetSail comes in.

SetSail is the first Signal-Based Selling sales management software to use a combination of AI and behavioral science to help businesses turn their sales data into better sales behaviors.

This intelligent software uses a data-driven approach to build custom end-to-end solutions that make a real difference to how sales teams perform.

SetSail is relied on by huge global brands like HubSpot, Cisco, and Dropbox. It’s a true end-to-end solution to help you gain insights into how your sales team is performing and ways you can improve productivity and performance. Tour the product →