This is a guest blog post by Kas Szatylowicz - Content Marketing Manager at Digital Olympus, connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter: @KasSzatylowicz

Did you know that a staggering number of 534.000 new businesses are created every month by entrepreneurs in the United States alone?

That is a hell lot of people trying to sell their products or services to the rest of the population.

Too often, failing to master the very concept of “selling” is what makes them shut down their business almost as quickly as they’ve decided to open it.

Without the right strategy in place, trying to reach and convince people to buy whatever you are offering might become the nagging problem to solve that keeps you up all night.

It’s not easy but let’s face it: sales are what drives your business. It is what pays your expenses, such as salaries, and helps you develop your business further.

Without a properly planned sales management process, you won't have money coming in.

Without money coming in, you cannot move forward.

So it’s pretty clear that if there is an aspect of your business strategy that you really should get right, it would be managing your sales process.

In this article, we take a look at how to do exactly that.

The anatomy of the sales management process

Now that you understand why creating a sales management process is crucial for your business, we will dive deeper into learning how to design it from A to Z.

Depending on the industry you operate in, your sales management process will most likely consist of at least three parts:

  1. Setting up the roles and rules in your sales team
  2. Defining your sales strategy
  3. Conducting sales analysis

Having that structure in place is really helpful for understanding what actions should be prioritized and what will impact your next steps.

Set up the roles and rules in your sales team

Essentially this step creates the core of your sales management process.

It starts with the people you get on board and finishes with how exactly they need to communicate with clients.

At this stage of sales management process, you need to understand what kind of responsibilities and roles your sales reps will have. Among the most important challenges that you need to solve are:

  • Building a leads assignment process across your sales reps (e.g. do you want to assign them based on a territory management rule or based on the size of their company and etc.)
  • Planning in advance the compensation/incentives (what sales reps will be getting if they’re reaching your KPIs or even exceeding them).  
  • Focusing on training your sales team members to ensure that they REALLY understand your products/services. In fact, the more the sales reps know your products or services the better they can qualify prospects and suggest to them the options that perfectly match their needs. This is why you need to invest in training your sales team on a regular basis - to ensure that your sales department knows your business insight out.
  • Clarify how sales reps should communicate with clients. The best way to do this is to create guidelines that include the most frequently asked questions. Actually, it’s super important to ensure that your sales team aligns with your business core values and mission.

Once you have your sales dream team assembled, it’s time to get this ball rolling and start designing an action plan.

Sales strategy

A good sales strategy starts well before a prospect is converted into a customer. First and foremost, they need to become aware of your brand.

A sales strategy outlines how the ideal sales process looks, including the steps that each prospect goes through before they turn into a client.

When designing a sales strategy you also have to think whether investing your time and effort into cold lead prospecting is the way to go for your business.

Truth is, it can work like magic if you only know how to do it right.

Let me share with you a brief example: Lemlist is a solution that is specifically designed for cold email pitches.

Among Lemlist’s user base, you can find a good number of well-known companies like Zendesk, Sumo, Uber, and more.

The reason Lemlist is so widely popular is that it has proven to be extremely useful.

Thanks to its personalization feature, you can create personalized emails using dynamic text and images feature.

But let’s take a moment to circle back to lead sources. In fact, the lead source quite often determines how exactly a lead should be qualified. So…

What are the most popular lead sources?

Let’s analyze a few possible options for online companies.

Online lead sources

Content marketing and SEO

It’s not rocket science that your potential users are searching for products and services in Google.

Therefore, it’s quite logical that if you start producing content that answers their most burning questions, you could end up ranking at the top of Google SERPs.

Why does it matter?

Well, the higher you rank, the better the chance that more people will organically find your website and, if you are lucky, become a part of your lead funnel - hence, content marketing is the essential part of every sales management process.

Let’s get to the bottom of how to leverage that to your advantage.

To find the most popular questions and start writing for SEO, you need to define the keywords that your potential customers are using when they search for products and services that are relevant to your business.

There are tons of tools out there to help you conduct thorough keyword research but among my favourites is SEMrush.

The biggest plus of SEMrush is that it not only shows the list of keywords that are related to your search, but also the difficulty (KD) of ranking for each search query at the top results.

Also, if your content has already been getting some traffic from Google, there’s a chance that you could start capturing even more leads with it.

You need to go to your Google Analytics account and see what kind of pages are receiving organic traffic.

Then, double-check that those pages are the ones you want to appear in Google SERPs.

What happens when the pages that show up in SERP are not the ones with an actual potential of bringing the organic traffic?

Ooops, something could have gone wrong with your keyword research. Most common issue responsible for it?

Keyword cannibalization.

Essentially it means that you are targeting the same keyword across multiple posts and pages.

That’s something that Google might penalize by not ranking either of your pages. Obviously, that’s something you want to avoid given that SEO can help you generate traffic and, eventually, convert leads into paying customers.

To learn more about it, make sure to check out this post.

So while publishing content can help you receive a bit more organic traffic, links are needed too.

Links from authoritative, related websites show Google that your content is trustworthy and valuable.

Thus, it will start to rank you higher.

The Lemlist tool could easily help you start building links faster and easier.

We at Digital Olympus are big fans of email outreach, a strategy that is based on reaching out to people who are already connected with your brand with the intention of securing a backlink from them.

These people might be your subscribers, clients, partners, and even SMM followers.

The reason we love this approach is that it reduces the number of hours that you need to invest in link building since those people already trust you.  

Another email outreach strategy that is also based on reaching out to people you’re connected to was shared in this post.

Basically, what they suggest is to build your email outreach by finding people who previously shared your content on SMM platforms.

The logic behind it is simple: They are already aware of your brand and that's the reason why they'll be more likely ready to give you a link.

Advertising

This channel could bring you excellent leads but only if you know how to set up your ad campaigns correctly and target the right people.

On a general note, if you’re not sure whether this channel is a good fit for your business, it makes sense to start with trying to capture those users that have visited your site but for some reason weren’t in a position to leave their contact details.

Facebook is among my favourite remarketing platforms as it doesn’t require you to be a PPC ninja to start using its ad feature.

Phew!

What you need to do is select pages that visitors have visited when you’re setting your campaign:

Finally, in the majority of cases, it’s much easier to capture leads from ad campaigns when you’re sending them to a page that was specifically designed for this ad.

To create a landing page within literally an hour, you could try the Landingi tool that has tons of pre-built templates.

Social media

Social media marketing could also be a good source of leads if you know how to use it right.

For instance, you could start using social listening to start tracking particular terms that are relevant to your business.

Then create solid content around it and then… That’s right - the mentioned above process related to SEO and organic traffic begins again.

Also, it’s never a bad idea to keep an eye on a rival’s brand mentions as there might be situations when their customers are not satisfied with their services or asking for some alternatives.

You could then jump into the conversation and perhaps point them in the direction of your company.

Running webinars, or even creating online courses

Webinars and any other educational activities such as online courses and ‘schools’ that are focused on educating users are always a great source of leads.

The only downsides of both these options is that they require a fair amount of time investment as there’s no way to generate a decent number of leads without giving them a solid promo shout-out.

The best webinars and courses involve experts that already have their own community and brand awareness.

Why?

Because it impresses your audience a bit more and helps to reinforce your position as the ‘go-to’ voice in this niche. It also widens your audience so that you generate more leads.

As you can guess, it’s not easy to persuade experts to help you out and participate in your activities.

You could give them a shout-out in your blog, spend a bit of time speaking about one of their products or services, and you could even offer to affiliate sell their products.

Meanwhile, here’s an advanced guide on how to set up your online school.

BONUS: Want to learn how to capture potential leads who visited your websites but haven’t left their contact details?

People often bounce from the website because they either didn’t get what they were looking for, it wasn’t very usable - or they weren’t sure what they should do next.

As such, with a number of site visitors have who bailed out without taking action, there are ways to ‘warm them up.’

The game isn’t over yet! Using tools such as Albacross, you can track the activity of your website visitors and easily identify the decision-makers.

This tool delivers data that you can use to decide how each site visitor should be handled from now on.

In other words, it gives you insights into what tactics you should use to re-engage them and close them.

How to nurture your leads inside sales management process

Let’s imagine your lead generation machine brings hundreds or even thousands of leads on a weekly basis.

But what’s next? How do you ensure that your sales team is focusing on the right leads and not wasting its time on working with those that are too cold to act?

First of all, you need to remember that various lead generation sources are bringing leads that are in different stages of the consumer decision-making process.

Basically, some of them are not really interested in your product just yet, but they love reading your blog or listening to your webinars.

And this is where you might want to consider using marketing automation tools that help you warm up your leads before sending them to sales reps.

I think nearly any marketing related person has heard about Hubspot, which is a great tool. It allows you to nurture your leads and send them emails that are triggered by pages they have recently visited on your site.

The only downside of Hubspot is that it’s extremely expensive.

If you want to try an all-in-one marketing automation tool that won’t cost you an arm and leg then, I highly recommend taking a look at Getresponse and Moosend.

Both solutions are perfectly affordable, while Moosend is free if your database is within 1k.

Use explanation videos as a part of your lead nurturing strategy and sales management process as this type of content has proven to be much more engaging.

In fact, 85% of businesses use video as a marketing tool. And what’s even more important over 88% of marketers confirm that video gives a positive effect on ROI.

Sales Analysis

You don’t really need me to tell you that keeping track of your progress is a must - hence, sales analysis is another important part of sales management process.

But not only must you keep track, but you must also analyze what’s going well and what isn’t in terms of where your sales team is in terms of overall performance and objectives.

These include individual and team objectives.

Doing this will help you to more closely predict future trends and sales performance.

The whole point is to use your sales analysis so that you’re able to develop a better strategy that helps you move forward.

A useful thing to do is to set role-specific goals in your team in the form of metrics or KPIs.

For example, maybe you want to set your sales director a revenue target and your digital marketer a lead gen target.

Other sales analytics metrics you could track include:

  • Sales growth
  • Sales targets
  • Sales per rep (who’s outperforming who in your team?)
  • Product performance (how well is each product/service selling?)
  • Lead engagement rate (analyzing this metric helps your team to tweak customer experience)

Of course, it’s also important that you keep close tabs on your churn rate, with the idea being that you reduce it to a minimum wherever (and whenever) possible.

Conclusion

More sales = a healthier, glowing business that’s moving in the right direction.

Use the tips in this article to create a well-oiled sales strategy that your whole team is on board with.

The idea is that every salesperson in your team is on the right page; they know what’s expected of them, they know which direction the business is heading in and they know the customer inside out.

Don’t stop there. Make sure you keep monitoring your KPIs and keep tweaking your strategy so that you’re never stuck in the position where the sales dry up.