When it comes to business processes, it’s rarely smooth sailing. Roadblocks and delays are a common occurrence and they can make any business process slow and inefficient. However, they can be especially damaging to sales. Oversights and delays can put off your potential customers in no time, which can result in dreaded revenue loss.
Luckily, these bottlenecks can usually be eliminated quite easily with a few tweaks and improvements to your sales process, but first, you need to detect them and identify what’s causing them.
Let’s go over some of the common bottlenecks you can encounter during a sales process and see how to eliminate them.
Don’t waste time on the wrong prospects
The sales process can be quite long and time-consuming. Building relationships takes effort so it’s essential to properly qualify your leads to avoid wasting valuable time and resources on prospects who will never convert to customers.
There’s nothing more disappointing than realizing that a prospect you’ve been chasing for months simply isn’t interested in becoming your customer. Targeting such prospects is not just discouraging, but also extremely inefficient.
While hitting dead-ends is inevitable to happen from time to time, doing proper research and collecting customer data can help you alleviate these issues.
If you want to make more accurate sales predictions, you need to analyze your current customer data and create unified customer profiles. Customer data analysis will help you track behavioural patterns and find prospects with similar characteristics, interests, and habits.
The key is to focus on the quality of your prospects instead of quantity. While it might seem like a good idea to simply cast a wide net and see who gets caught, you’ll just end up with a bunch of lukewarm prospects with no interest in making a purchase.
Instead, focus on prospects that fit your ideal buyer persona. Although you’ll end up with fewer prospects, you’ll have the upper hand of knowing they are actually a good fit for your business and worth putting in the effort.
Make sure to properly nurture your leads
Once you identify your ideal buyer persona and properly score your leads, the game has just begun. The reason why filtering out disinterested prospects is so important is that it will leave your sales reps with more time on their hands to properly nurture those leads who are actually interested in becoming your customers.
No matter how interested leads seem to be, most of them need at least some convincing before making a purchase.
The sales process is a journey that often takes a long time before reaching the final destination, and your leads need your attention at every step of the way.
The longer the sales process is, the bigger the risk of encountering mid-sales bottlenecks. From the moment you send the initial cold email to making final sales arrangements, your leads have plenty of time to change their mind.
That’s why you need to make sure that you are continually nurturing your leads in order to keep them warm. Always stay on their radar and make sure to be at their disposal to answer any questions or concerns.
Don’t manage your leads manually
When it comes to lead management, using spreadsheets is far from ideal. Using multiple sheets and email threads to manually capture valuable lead data and qualify leads can only take you so far. Not only is it time-consuming but it is also far less accurate and prone to errors.
With inside sales software that offers automated lead scoring and lead routing, you can avoid these bottlenecks. Automation will make your sales reps more productive and leave them with enough time to focus on providing leads with the necessary attention.
Once you get manual lead management out of the way, you will make room for more accurate predictions. Automating lead management eliminates the guesswork and boosts efficiency, by allowing you to focus on closing deals and nurturing relationships instead of wasting time on figuring out who to call next.
Make sure to properly collect and enter data
Human errors and technical issues can be a cause of many bottlenecks during the sales process. This is especially true when it comes to data collection, as manual data entry can lead to many mistakes.
From incomplete or missing data to non-uniform data and decentralized databases, there are many data management issues that can negatively affect the sales process and impair communication both within the company and with customers.
When creating customer profiles, it’s best to establish mandatory fields and build predefined dropdown menus to avoid any missing data and ensure data consistency and uniformity. Also, try to create a centralized database that every member of your team can easily access whenever they need to.
Having all your data well-organized in one place will make it much more useful as it will be easier to search and analyze it.
Streamline approval processes
Another potential bottleneck that’s bound to irritate both your sales representatives and your customers is approval delays.
Imagine finding a perfect lead, building a relationship with them for months, finding the best solution for them, just to lose their attention due to an approval delay once they ask for a discount before closing a deal.
Regardless of your effort to keep them engaged and the amount of time you put into nurturing the lead, your entire progress is halted if you need to wait for approval from another team member or management.
That’s why it’s important to streamline approvals by creating an automated approval process or setting approval levels to clearly define exactly who’s in charge of approving what.
You simply can’t afford to have your customers wait, as most of them are too impatient to put up with any delays. Make sure to minimize the waiting time as much as possible so you don’t use warm leads who pretty much already decided to make a purchase due to approval delay.
Don’t forget to follow up
If you think you no longer have to worry about bottlenecks once you close the deal, you’re wrong. Even if you’ve managed to convert your leads into sales, there’s still room for roadblocks that can negatively impact your sales process.
Closing a deal shouldn’t be your end goal. You should always focus on creating long-lasting relationships and securing returning customers. Failing to follow up on time after the purchase, or even worse, not following up at all will hardly help build such relationships.
A timely follow-up after the purchase will give you the opportunity to upsell, cross-sell, and gain loyal customers who will be happy to come back to you and recommend your business to others.
To stay on top of your post-sales outreach, you can utilize automation and personalized sales email templates to send thank-you notes, post-sales follow-ups, personalized offers based on the previous purchase, and conduct customer satisfaction surveys.
You can’t expect to get rid of bottlenecks completely, as they are a common occurrence in any business process. However, if you know what the common roadblocks are, it can be easier to identify them and eliminate their sources before they start causing any issues.