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October 20, 2020
OP-ED OPINION POINTS OF VIEW

Five essential steps for sales development

by Angela Calina, Managing Partner Mind Shop

Sales development is the process of cultivating relationships with potential customers and capturing any signal of interest for the purchase by the seller.

The sales process has 6 stages and includes prospecting, connecting and qualifying, gathering information, presenting, dealing with objections and closing. Sales development is related to the first 2 stages. That is, it is practically at the intersection of marketing and sales.

Creating a sales development process includes 3 stages:

1. Generating marketing and sales leads

2. Increasing engagement with those from whom these leads came

3. Qualifying leads to determine real sales opportunities

For this process to be effective, alignment between marketing and sales functions is required. For this alignment to be possible the following steps are relevant:

1. Defining each stage from lead to potential customer

A site visitor who downloads an ebook does not automatically mean that he is a potential customer. For this reason, the gathering of all those who acted in connection with this lead magnet (i.e. ebook) within the term “leads” umbrella ends up creating misunderstanding and disorganization.

The job of the marketing team is to cultivate those who are not yet ready to buy and to identify those who are close to making the purchase decision.

A marketing qualified lead (MQL) is a potential customer that the marketing team signals as being ready to be taken over by the sales team. This first assessment could be right or wrong, which is why the next step is so important.

A qualified sales lead (SQL), on the other hand, is an MQL that, this time, the sales team confirms as a ready to buy. It is the business of sales to then materialize this sales opportunity.

For the marketing team to generate MQLs for the sales team, it must have a definition of what the sales team is looking for. This is not meant to put the entire burden of qualified leads on the shoulders of marketers, but rather to provide an effective framework to increase the number of MQLs that turn into SQLs and to reduce the unproductive load of representatives sales, eliminating valuation errors.

2. Identify gaps in the sales process

Once you have definitions for each stage of the life cycle – MQL, SQL and Opportunity – you can now look for where the process breaks down into steps. Ask key people in each department about their efforts, such as:

•              Who are the best customers?

•              What are the elements that immediately disqualify a lead?

•              What preparations need to be made for productive sales conversations?

•              Where is the most time lost in the prospecting phase?

•              How can marketing discover potential customers faster who are not ready to move on?

These questions can lead to interesting information about the differences between MQL and SQL and / or SQL and Opportunities.

3. Establish a process to close the gaps

Is there a necessary step out of your sight? If so, who will be responsible for defining and implementing this step?

What marketing activities need to be added to better drive sales?

What content needs to be created so that sales representatives can have more meaningful conversations?

How can technology support the alignment between marketing and sales?

4. Make an agreement between marketing and sales

A service agreement (SLA) is a contract that sets out deliverables on both sides. After gaining clarity and identifying gaps, you can formalize the departmental relationship with an SLA that documents what needs to happen before, during, and after teaching leads between marketing and sales, and how success looks.

The aim is to get both departments to agree on definitions and roles so that they can take responsibility and understand how they all contribute to the overall objectives of the organization.

5. Set the process in motion

With clearly defined roles and a new collaboration agreement, more explicitly and clearly marketing and sales will be better equipped to support each other, and sales will be better able to qualify and close the sales process with potential customers. Keep an eye on the process and change it as the team adjusts and learn more about what works best.

About Mind Shop

Mind Shop is the advertising agency where ideas are born and become reality. We are a team of experienced professionals with a special passion for innovation and creative thinking. We started our journey in 2001, and over the past 19 years, we have run over 10,000 projects at local, national and European level. We have an integrated approach, offering high-quality services. We are proud of the very close collaboration we have with our customers – often, we work together as one team. We are serious, trustworthy, creative, and we are very enthusiastic about what we do. Find out more about us on: www.mindshop.ro

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