How to fix an inefficient sales workflow - a guide for B2B sales teams

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by Mohammed Shehu

With competition heating up for lucrative contracts, it’s never been more important to remove roadblocks from your B2B sales operations.

And while it’s easy to tack on more shiny new tools to improve your sales workflow efficiency, it’s often much more effective to remove blockers from the process. It’s even more crucial to recognize them early and the impact they might be making on your team’s sales performance.

How will I know if I have a sales process problem?

You can’t fix what you can’t see. As a sales leader, the first step to fixing an inefficient sales workflow is setting up regular review sessions to pore over your existing process. This enables feedback from everyone in your sales organization.

There are six red flags that might indicate you have some friction in your sales process:

  1. Manual data processing
  2. Ineffective sales calls with low close rates
  3. Limited sales enablement
  4. Poor document management
  5. Siloed communications
  6. Slow contract approval

Let’s walk through each one separately.

#1 Manual data processing

If your sales reps are still entering email addresses directly into your sales CRM or scraping lead data off the web, they’re wasting precious time on manual tasks.

Imagine if you could compress those tasks from minutes to seconds. How much more quickly could you and your team close new deals?

The good news is that workflow automation software tools exist for nearly every business process in B2B sales.

For example, software tools now exist to automatically collect, validate, enrich, and store prospect data from different lead generation channels directly into your CRM software - all without you lifting a finger.

As countless articles online have shown, workflow automation is one of the main keys to enterprise sales success. The benefits of an automated workflow include:

  1. Reduced errors thanks to proactive planning for each step of the sales process, thus increasing sales efficiency
  2. Increased sales productivity as hand-offs are smoother and less time is spent on manual tasks
  3. Faster process completions as multiple processes can be run simultaneously
  4. Easier search as you can find data specific to a given range, team, client, or process faster
  5. Improved revenue collection as sales process steps get completed faster and invoices can be generated, sent, and recorded automatically
  6. Increased trust and transparency thanks to greater control over the sales workflow
  7. An improved work culture as sales professionals learn to rely on tech to complete their tasks and collaborate with each other

So how do you fix a manual data processing problem?

Solution: Assess your sales cycle to identify where reps are spending time filling in data manually, then estimate how much time they spend on these tasks on average. Armed with this information, browse G2, Capterra, AppSumo, or ProductHunt for tools and software suites that can automate much of those manual tasks. Compare the time spent before and after to determine your ROI.

#2 Ineffective sales calls with low close rates

The sales call is still a critical ingredient to closing B2B deals. Any salesperson worth their salt already understands the basics from sales training: performing discovery to understand the client’s pain points, handling objections towards the offer, and showcasing the product in the best possible light.

But how many times do you review calls with your sales force to spot areas of improvement? If you’re still relying on luck and brute force to close deals over the phone, you’re leaving a lot of growth on the table.

Solution: Use sales call assessment tools like Gong and Chorus to determine the most common phrases you use, which competitor names keep cropping up, and which objections keep stumping your sales reps. This gives you unparalleled insight into what works and what needs to be chucked out of your script.

#3 Limited sales enablement

Part of enterprise sales success is bolstering your sales reps with the tools and information they need during the sales process.

Do your reps know every single detail about the product they’re selling? Are they aware of the changing features your competitors’ products offer - and how to counter those? More importantly, do they find themselves repeating the same information to every new prospect?

As we saw above, manual administrative tasks can be a time-suck.

Solution: Create and distribute sales enablement assets. Such assets provide critical information about your product, its benefits and ROI, and how it stacks up against competitors. These assets can be shared ahead of calls and webinars to give prospects a chance to review your offer and arrive at meetings with concrete questions that can move the sale forward.

#4 Poor document management

Creating sales enablement assets is a great first step, but if your reps still need to root through reams of paper files or digital documents to find the correct asset, that’s another unnecessary timesuck.

You want your reps to be able to find and share sales docs easily and seamlessly across any channel - and communicate with clients directly within those docs.

Solution: Get a digital asset management system. These tools are invaluable for tagging, categorizing, and updating PDFs, images, and other documents in your sales toolbox - especially when you have many products to showcase or many competitors to compare your product against.

#5 Siloed communications

It’s easy for sales teams to believe they know the customer best, leading them to sideline members from other departments within the organization. This is unhelpful in the long run and prevents sales professionals from learning how the product they sell is marketed to prospects, how it’s built to meet market demands, and other related aspects.

Also, an enterprise sales deal is a collaborative process between multiple stakeholders. This might mean roping in relevant people at critical points in the sales process and awaiting feedback for long stretches at a time.

If all of this is done via email, comms can easily get lost - and if you need to update your sales logs or CRM software with new info whenever you get it, that’s yet another manual process that wastes time.

Solution: Use a collaborative sales tool like Momentum to create designated deal rooms in Slack involving all stakeholders. With Momentum, you can also sync your Salesforce data in real-time for easier, faster access. Collaborative sales tools cut down on the time it takes to finalize a deal, source feedback from multiple stakeholders, and update your CRM on the go.

#6 Slow contract approval

You’ve got the go-ahead on that huge deal, but you’re now stuck in a phase of back and forth emails as you work out contract clauses and gather signatures. The longer this phase lasts, the longer it takes for both parties to start receiving value from the deal.

Solution: Use a contract management tool that enables virtual signatures. This can be as easy as affixing digital signatures within PDFs using Adobe Acrobat Pro or can involve going the whole hog and getting a DocuSign subscription. Whichever path you choose, the time savings are worth the cost.

Remove roadblocks from your enterprise sales process

Closing enterprise deals needs a well-oiled sales machine, and inefficiencies slow down that process. The six roadblocks identified in this post - manual data processing, ineffective sales calls, limited sales enablement, poor document management, siloed communications, and slow contract approval - are all problems that can be solved with the right approach and tooling.

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