Developing an Effective Sales Process


A good sales process starts with finding the right buyer and aligning your sales perspective.

By University Alliance
Sales Process

When it comes to making a sale, you won’t get far if you’re not talking to the right customer. There are things you need to know about a customer from the start to determine whether you’re working up to a potential sale or simply wasting your time and energy.

Sure, your product or service is great, but isn’t right for everyone. Establishing a solid sales process allows you to narrow your list of prospective customers so you can focus your efforts on the right ones.

Asking the right questions from the start helps you determine whether your product makes sense for the customer. It’s important to find out essential information such as if your product can solve a problem, if it can save time or money and if working with you is even within their budget.

You can go further and find out if they’re using a competitor’s product and how satisfied they are with the results. Finally, it’s essential to determine how fast they can make a buying decision to see how serious they really are about cementing a deal.

Once you’ve determined what you believe you need to know about your buyers, see if your assumptions are correct about solving their problems, saving them money or how close they are to a purchase. You may need more criteria, fewer or to revise how you believe you’re serving customers.

Use this experience to continuously refine your approach to ensure you’re speaking to your target market.

Build a Conversion Funnel

The conversion funnel is an integral part of the sales process that can help you achieve your monthly or weekly goals. Though it’s a funnel, you can assemble it from the bottom up, starting with the number of closed deals you set as a goal for the end of the week or month.

Then, using your conversion rate of qualified deals to closed deals, figure how many qualified deals you’ll need to reach your goal. Continue working up the funnel to the number of sales calls you’ll need to make to acquire the right number of qualified deals.

At the top of the funnel will be the number of prospects you need to contact in the week or month to have the right number of sales calls.

Once you’ve found a process that works for you, keep yourself challenged by increasing your goal each month. If you’re able to maintain a steady level of growth, think of the progress you’ll make by the end of the year.

Aligning Your Sales Process

A prospect goes through a number of stages along the path to a buying decision. As a sales professional, it’s important to understand these phases so you’re able to capitalize on them. Steps a typical buyer may go through include:

  • What the customer needs: Customers look to fill a need. It could be something that improves their product, gains more customers, helps provide better service or streamlines their operation. On the other hand, it could be something a customer really just wants to have.
  • What products or services meet the need: The buyer searches for items or products that solve a problem or meet a need.
  • Evaluating different sources: The buyer does comparison shopping which could include rating price, quality, service, terms, sales offers and other factors.
  • Negotiating terms and conditions: This is the decision time when details are worked out and the deal is made.
  • Using and evaluating the purchase: The buyer puts the purchase to use, determines its value and possibly whether there will be repeat business.

While the buyer and the sales professional are part of the same transaction, they don’t necessarily share the same perspective. Five steps of the sales process from the view of the sales professional can include:

  • Looking for possible leads: This goes back to questions about the customer that were mentioned earlier such as whether your product can solve a problem or meet a need.
  • Finding a qualified buyer: Dig deeper into questions such as whether the customer is ready to make a purchase or can afford your product.
  • Submitting an effective proposal: This should set up the details of a purchase as well as why the customer should buy from you. This can range from highly detailed to informal.
  • Waiting for a decision: The sale should be close to being finalized but you need to be wary of last-second problems and solve them.
  • Earning repeat business: If you’ve done everything right and the buyer is happy, you can follow through and gently nudge the customer into buying again.

As a sales professional, it is important to understand that stages in your sales perspective must align with the buyer’s to earn the initial sale and retain the customer for future business. Tailor your sales strategy to meet the objectives of the buyer and enjoy a much higher success rate. When you know what the customer is looking for, you’re able to deliver in a more efficient manner that speaks directly to their needs. 


Learning more about sales such as by taking courses in an online advanced professional sales and sales management certificate program can equip you with effective sales techniques or teach you how to effectively manage an entire sales operation.


Being a national sales manager for a top-tier company has given me a great deal of experience in working with colleagues and customers. The Expert Selling course has given me even more weapons to get goals and objectives done. One of the many things I learned was "keep It simple." The business world has become very impersonal. The email maze has taken away much of the personal contact we had with customers and our own colleagues. Emails should be short and sweet, not novels. Another key learning was to let the customers know exactly what your services can deliver, and what need your product will fulfill. The instructors at the University of San Francisco were all great and really knew their topics and discussion points. Good luck to all, and I will see you in the “sales arena”!

Bob Gaunt
West Chester, PA

Category: Sales Management