06 Sep The 7 Steps to writing sales processes that work
Any business can benefit from well written standard operating procedures, SOPS for short. However, it isn’t that easy to write effective sales processes.
SOPs are used to detail the various steps your team members need to take in order to complete a given task or process.
A solid set of SOPs will allow for a smoother day to day running of your operations, ensuring your team members stay organised and on track while always complying with rules and laws. It will empower your team to be more autonomous and make less mistakes. And of course, it is a great tool to use as part of your induction programme.
The benefits are undeniable, so if you want to get to work but don’t know where to start, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to make sure you are writing sales processes that are always on point.
STEP 1: Consult/brainstorm
This is the fun part and a chance to make sure your team members are all on the same page. Gather the relevant stakeholders and create the SOP in collaboration with the people who are involved in the process or those who are directly impacted by it. They know the process inside out and might have some useful feedback or suggestions on how to make it more efficient. This may also be an opportunity to remove unnecessary processes that might no longer be relevant.
STEP 2: Define the purpose of the SOP
Keep your eye on the prize!
What do you want to achieve?
Before you start writing your SOP, you should identify the end goal. For example, you might want to standardise how your employees perform a task, document an existing process or simply to improve it. To ensure you stay focused on the objective, ask yourself how your process as a whole but also how every step from the initiation the end serves the purpose.
STEP 3: Choose your format
Keep it consistent.
The format of your SOPs will very much depend on the size and structure of your business. It could be anything from a simple excel spreadsheet to a full-on manual. Whatever format you have chosen, make sure that you are consistent in the way you present the information.
STEP 4: Get writing
You’ve done all your prep, it’s crunch time!
Your instructions should be detailed yet concise and easy to follow. List all the steps in the right order, use the relevant terms and clearly state any metrics that might be used to assess success or completion of the task to a satisfactory standard.
Look at it as if you were brand new to the company and performing the task for the very first time, would your explanations make sense?
STEP 5: Put it to the test
Once you’re happy with your first draft, ask a colleague who is familiar with the process to look at it and let you know if anything is unclear or if you’ve missed any step. In fact, try giving it to both a senior staff member and a complete newbie and see how each one performs. You will quickly be able to tell whether your instructions are detailed enough.
And of course, check your document for spelling or formatting errors before submitting it for review by a superior if applicable or sharing with the team.
STEP 6: Implement
You’re finally ready to implement the SOP.
How you share and communicate the SOP is just as important as how you write it. At this point you have to chose how the information will be distributed to the various departments or team members.
For instance, you could have a file saved in a shared folder (aka the environmentally friendly option), a word document attached to an email or simply a printed sheet for anyone without access to a computer.
How you do this is up to you, as long as the guidelines are easily accessible to all stakeholders so make sure you consider your audience and their resources when picking a method.
STEP 7: Review
It’s more than a step, it’s a way of life ?
Your SOP manual should be a dynamic document. Your company operates in an ever-changing marketplace meaning that your standards and procedures are likely to change along the way.
You should review all your SOPs regularly to make sure that they remain relevant, up to date and helpful. If you skip this step, what will happen is the standards will slowly but surely start slipping away because they stop making sense.
To be fair, once the groundwork has been done, these changes when done regularly should take very little time.
So, yes, writing sales processes is a time-consuming task but in the long run it’s definitely worth making them a priority for the sake of productivity and consistency. Give it a go and let us know how you get on.
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