How to Create an Effective Sales Process

By Our Content Partner, The Sales Collective

Earlier this year, we launched an article titled, “What Ultimately Drives Your Sales Motion?” which you can find HERE.

Today, we’ll dive deeper into what drives scale and repeatability to your revenue-generating machine – your SALES PROCESS.

Most companies believe they have some version of a sales process. However, when we survey their salespeople and ask them to either explain the stages of their sales process or show us their documented sales process/playbook, they can’t do it. Why? Because they don’t exist! Do you know that 86% of companies DO NOT have a clearly defined, documented sales process/playbook? This leads to longer ramp times for new salespeople, lower conversion rates on deals, higher turnover, lower quota attainment, substantial lost revenue, and an inability to grow and scale their business effectively.

Unless we’re mistaken, most companies are looking to grow faster, increase their valuation, maximize revenue, recruit & retain top talent, and speed up their sales cycle. Without a documented, repeatable sales process, companies are losing millions of dollars in lost opportunities and won’t ever be able to figure out why this continues to happen.

A sales process consists of two main parts in its most basic form. Stages and actions.
These stages must be adjusted continuously for your specific sales cycle and go-to-market approach.
The most effective sales processes consist of five stages. They are:
Stage One – First Meeting/Discovery – Is there a problem we can solve?
Stage Two – Solutioning – Share how we can solve the problem(s).
Stage Three – Business Alignment – How can we align together to solve it/them?
Stage Four – Proposal – What will it cost to solve it?
Stage Five – Closed Won or Lost – This stage needs no explanation!

Stage One – First Meeting | Discovery 

In this stage, the salesperson’s goal is to book a meeting to help them better understand their prospect’s business. In a consultative selling environment, salespeople should always lead with discovery questions that will help to reveal a problem they can solve. They’ll then educate their prospects on the internal & external forces needed to drive change. And finally, they’ll end with sharing an aligned solution with them.

In this critical first stage, most salespeople show up and wing the meeting! Yet, they wonder why their deals don’t progress, why the scope keeps changing, and why prospects need help to make a decision. Deals are WON in Discovery, not through “closing.”

To maximize effectiveness in Stage One, your salespeople need to document these eight elements:

  1. Buyers care about different things. Salespeople must know their audience! These questions aren’t a one-size-fits-all list of questions for every prospect who’s breathing. A list of Discovery questions for each buyer persona they’re meeting. 
  2. A list of macroeconomic factors impacting your world of business and your specific industry that drives a reason for your prospects to change – “Why Now?”
  3. A list of common problems your company can solve – “Why Change?”
  4. A list of common objections and how they need to handle each one. 
  5. A list of differentiators for your salespeople to be able to answer the “why you” question, to help them show your value vs. your competition.
  6. An overview of your solution or service and how your company solves the problems your prospects are facing (Value Proposition).
  7. A visual of the buyer/seller journey so your prospects understand what the next steps look like after they buy.
  8. A framework for recommendations and next steps.

When your salespeople follow and execute these steps effectively, they will likely see an 80+% conversion rate to the second stage of the sales process.
Your salespeople often can’t move a prospect from Stage One to Stage Two without an acknowledgement they have a problem they need to solve. Moreover, your prospect must clearly show an interest in solving it now, and they must show they’re open to learning how you can help them.

Stage Two – Solutioning (Also called Scoping, Qualifying, or the Demo Stage) 

Your team can transform its sales approach with a strategic and well-orchestrated second stage. The goal is to seamlessly align the problem(s) identified in Discovery with your tailored solution.
Envision this stage as a theatrical production, with documented acts and a compelling storyline. Your salespeople need to avoid overwhelming their prospects with irrelevant information. Instead, your team must present a polished demo that follows a clear “Tell, Show, Tell” framework. The goal here is to be really clear that you can solve the problems they want to solve and how you will do that. Avoid the “one more thing” or “we can also do this” in the presentation. It will make your solution appear more complicated than it needs to be and will be overkill for their specific problem(s).

Act 1 – Reinforce the serious problems and challenges they need to solve and remind them of the urgency to find a solution quickly.
Acts 2, 3, & 4 – Adhere to the “Tell, Show, Tell” structure. Explain the problem, highlight how your solution solves their problem, and reiterate exactly how you can solve their problem. At the end of each act, pause and ask targeted questions to confirm the solution’s impact on their business. This allows for alignment on the problem and solution as well as proper encoding in the brain.
Take your time in the final act. The biggest mistake salespeople make is taking up all the allotted meeting time they were given, and they forget to leave time for discussion. Your salespeople need to allow at least ten minutes to discuss the next steps, covering questions like:
Did we address how we can solve your problems?
Did we uncover new problems to solve?
Who should be involved in future meetings?
What’s the business case and impact of solving the problems we discussed today?

Your salespeople must ensure they address tough questions and secure alignment with key decision-makers. They should schedule the next meeting before the end of the call, or they’ll just rely on hope to win the deal.

We’ve only made it through stages one and two, so you’ll have to wait until next time to hear how to execute stages three, four, and five properly! At The Sales Collective, our team of experts has a wealth of knowledge and decades of experience helping companies of all types and sizes rebuild their sales process from top to bottom. Many of our clients have seen dramatic increases in revenue, win rates, and profitability, and we’d be happy to share more if and when the time is right. If you’d like more information, please visit us at:

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