Sales Workflow

What is a Sales Workflow?

A sales workflow is the set of repeatable steps sellers take to engage, nurture, and close potential customers. It’s a visual representation of a company’s sales process, typically containing tasks and activities that need to be completed for each lead in the funnel.

A sales rep and sales manager use the same sales workflow differently.

  • Sales reps follow it to know where each lead is in the customer journey and how to engage them for a consistent customer experience.
  • Sales managers use it to keep track of sales reps’ performance, follow up with reps on deals they’re working, identify bottlenecks in their processes, and continuously improve their sales strategy.

Sales workflows are unique to every organization’s product, customer base, and internal operations. When done right, they increase efficiency in the sales process and facilitate long-term relationships with customers.


Benefits of a Structured Sales Workflow

Mapping out sales processes transforms a sales team from a reactive state to a proactive one that maximizes its available resources. An essential part of sales process development, sales workflows help companies standardize the process from initial contact throughout the entire customer lifecycle.

Helps Close Deals

Without a standardized sales process, sales teams have nothing to go off of when reaching potential buyers about the product or service. For new reps especially, this creates confusion. And companies lose deals because of it.

According to data from The Bridge Group, the average ramp time for new sales reps is already more than three months. The time it takes for them to reach productivity (and profitability) is much longer. The average sales turnover rate is as high as 35%, and much of that is attributable to reps not having the resources to succeed.

Implementing a structured sales workflow is the fastest way to improve the selling experience (and, by extension, individual rep performance). It gives them the knowledge and tools to engage each potential customer at different sales stages and track it. The end result is reps who are more comfortable in their role, have a longer tenure, close more deals, and bring in more revenue for the company.

Retains Those Customers

Closing deals is only half the sales process. What’s really important is earning repeat business. Effective customer retention relies on both the initial process with potential leads and the ongoing engagement from the customer success team.

  • Pre-purchase — In the early stages of the sales cycle, reps qualify new leads based on predetermined criteria (which, without a sales workflow, they may not have). If they fail to target the right customer segments and adequately qualify them, they won’t realize the true value of the product or service they’re paying for. Overall, customer lifetime value suffers without proper qualification.
  • Post-purchase — Once a company lands a customer, onboarding and customer nurturing are crucial parts of the sales workflow. They ensure a team’s sales efforts don’t go to waste. These sales engagements also create opportunities for upsells, cross-sells, and contract renewals.

In an effective sales process, one team informs the other. Sales reps pass vital information to customer success teams, which then onboard customers with personalized and relevant information. For a consistent customer experience, neither can exist without the other.

Understand Buyer Behavior

A huge part of knowing how to sell is understanding how/why buyers buy. Having a sales workflow in place helps companies track buyers’ actions and behaviors, which, in turn, informs their future decisions.

Sales leaders use this information to anticipate customer needs and provide more personalized experiences. It also enables them to identify trends in customer behavior (e.g., how long it takes them to decide on a purchase).

They collaborate with reps to refine their sales process and update the workflow using this information.

Insight Into Conversion Stages

Every move from one sales pipeline stage to the next is a conversion. The conversations needed to turn a potential customer into a marketing qualified lead (MQL) precede the ones needed to create a sales qualified lead (SQL) and opportunity.

Each conversion stage also tells the sales team different things about their process. For example, a low MQL to SQL conversion rate could indicate the company’s marketing collateral isn’t reaching its target audience. It could also mean the reps aren’t accurately qualifying leads.

Sales workflow software has built-in automation and tracking tools, which provide an efficient way to measure conversion stages. That way, the team knows where leads are dropping out of the funnel and how to potentially improve.

Better Customer Experience

Any successful effort to improve the sales process ultimately translates to a better buying experience for the potential customer. A well-structured sales workflow helps reps target the right leads, provide customers with tailored information about the product, and generally increase the efficiency of the process.

At its core, that’s what customers are looking for — a frictionless journey from awareness to purchase.

Since the sales workflow also focuses on ongoing engagement, the overall customer experience improves. Throughout the customer’s journey, they receive personalized support and content that helps them run their business better and get more out of the product.

Improved Sales Strategies

According to HubSpot’s recent survey of more than 1,000 sales reps, the most difficult part of the sales job is not identifying leads or closing deals. It’s standing out from the competition.

Just like a company has to differentiate its product, the sales team has to differentiate its approach to qualified leads. The typical B2B buying group includes six to 10 decision-makers, and none of them spend more than 17% of their time talking to sellers. Since buyers always talk to a few vendors before deciding, that means the sales team is working with about 3% to 5% of that potential customer’s time, maximum.

Having a sales workflow that breaks down sales process steps into smaller micro-tasks helps reps stay organized and laser-focused on the customer. It also enables them to research potential buyers and their interests more effectively, which in turn allows them to send better emails, know how long it takes for a response, schedule calls at the right time, and keep everyone on the same page.

More Accurate Sales Forecasting

Since sales workflow software tracks the customer journey and provides data about each customer, sales leaders are much more in-tune with how customers engage the company. They know which prospects are close to buying, which ones are at risk of churning, and how stable the customer base is overall.

Thus, the sales workflow is a critical source of sales forecasting data. It produces key performance indicators (KPIs) like lead velocity, sales cycle length, number of deals, win rate, and average revenue per user (ARPU).

The sales team uses these KPIs to make educated assumptions about how many deals they’ll close next quarter and the threshold for profitability. With that information, leaders can set quotas and figure out what they can do to improve the sales process.

Steps in a Sales Workflow

Most organizations follow a seven-step sales process. Even with differences in sales cycle length, this structured sales process is the basis for just about any effective sales workflow.

The seven steps of the sales process are:


Before jumping into sales calls and meetings, reps research potential customers to identify their needs and pain points. At this point, they’re only looking at descriptors like company size, industry, and location to determine probable candidates for the product or service. They don’t know for certain whether these pain points are the actual problems these prospects face.

For research, the ICP is the North Star. The sales team takes buyer personas and delineates a target market to research. They’ll create a list of potential customers that fit the company’s ICP criteria using lead databases and their own data sources.

Connect with Leads

After the sales team creates a list of potential customers, they contact them. The process looks a little different depending on whether the lead is warm or cold.

  • Warm leads come from referrals and interested prospects who click “Book a Demo” on the website. In these cases, reps will start by sending a personalized email to the lead based on their situation.
  • Cold leads are people who don’t know the company yet. Reps typically reach them through cold emails, DMs, and phone calls.

Connecting with leads is one of the most crucial sales process stages because it sets the precedent for the entire sales cycle. If initial targeting isn’t accurate, the sales team is either stuck chasing new leads or failing to convert them in later stages.

Lead Qualification

Lead qualification actually comprises multiple stages. On the sales process flowchart, qualification is one of the first steps. But it’s actually something that happens multiple times throughout the sales funnel.

  • Sales lead — Any contact that meets the company’s ICP
  • MQL — A sales lead that has shown enough interest to receive more marketing material or book a call with Sales.
  • SQL — An MQL who is ready to move forward in the process and potentially purchase the product or service.
  • Opportunity — An SQL who has been qualified and accepted by Sales, meaning they are ready to move on to the closing process

Sales reps need a good understanding of when qualifies as “enough” interest before moving them through the process. The wrong threshold can mean missing out on good opportunities or wasting resources on leads that are unlikely to convert.

Lead scoring helps with this. It assigns points to a prospect’s engagement with the company, their interest in the product/service, and their potential value. A score helps reps spend their time qualifying high-quality leads.

Presentation or Demonstration

A sales demo is the moment when reps show how the product or service works and explain all its features (ideally, according to the customer’s pain points). It’s where sales reps earn the confidence of their potential clients or customers.

The goal of the sales demo is to move customers from understanding what the solution can do to making an educated decision about investing in it. Reps answer questions, address objections, and present relevant business use cases during this stage.

Sometimes, multiple sales calls are required before the prospect can make an educated decision. In these cases, reps may need to tailor their demos according to the expected outcome of each meeting.

The key is to avoid a sales pitch. If it’s successful, the potential customer will ask questions and eventually call themselves to action.

Quote or Proposal

When a sales representative gets buy-in from the decision-maker(s), they put together a quote or proposal. This document includes all the particulars of the offer: product or service features, pricing information, delivery timeline, return/refund policy, warranty information, etc.

Quotes and proposals are templatized but tailored to the specific customer. They require approval before closing the deal, which usually involves negotiation between the sales rep and potential customer.

Close Deal

When sellers and buyers reach an agreement, the deal closes. In the sales pipeline, a deal can either be Closed Lost or Closed Won.

  • Closed Lost The prospect formally declines to carry through with the sales process and become a customer.
  • Closed Won The opportunity is now ready to implement, use, and pay for the product or service.

This stage is also when reps might collect additional information from customers like billing addresses, payment methods, and contact information.

Nurture Customers

There are several components of customer nurturing, starting with onboarding. Upsells, upgrades, and renewals follow.

  • Customer onboarding The first and most important step. Effective onboarding means user adoption in the short term and satisfaction in the long term.
  • Upsells and cross-sells Offering additional services allows companies to offer more value to their best customers.
  • Contract renewals When a contract nears its end, reps can extend with new terms and features.
  • Support and maintenance — The most critical part of nurturing for the customer experience. Customer success reps must be available to answer questions, troubleshoot issues, and ensure satisfaction.
  • Content and marketing communications — Helpful content like product updates, how-tos, and business tips keep customers engaged and help them use the product better.

These processes are clear representations of why the sales cycle doesn’t end once a new customer signs the dotted line.

Best Practices to Improve Sales Workflows

The sales workflow visually represents a process that is inherently dynamic. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to sales process mapping. The sales team incrementally improves it over time.

Here are five best practices for an effective sales process:

  1. Implement lead scoring. Lead quality can make or break the current sales process. Lead scoring can help the sales team focus on qualified opportunities and sign more deals.
  2. Automate follow-up tasks. CRM integration is an essential part of a streamlined workflow, and it prevents sellers from forgetting about their leads. Automation software helps reps prioritize their activities and eliminate human error.
  3. Track customer feedback. Gathering feedback from customers during and after the sales process gives valuable insight into what works and what needs to be improved.
  4. Personalize as much as possible. Crafting tailored messages, demos, and proposals is an effective way to stand out from the competition and build lasting customer relationships.
  5. Analyze data frequently. A sales team can’t improve what it doesn’t measure. Data-driven decisions lead to a process that generates better leads and higher conversions.

Sales Workflow Tools

Every sales team relies on its tech stack to streamline a process. Here are some examples of tools that can support every step of the sales workflow:

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Most CRM software has a sales process flowchart built into it. Sellers use CRM to track deals, visually move them through the sales funnel, and document each interaction (e.g., qual call, sales demo).

As the platform that enables a sales workflow in the first place, it’s also the primary source of data for the sales team.

Email Automation

Software like MailChimp and Constant Contact help sales reps create automated email campaigns. It sends customized emails on the seller’s behalf in response to customer actions or triggers. Senders can also personalize messages by including the customer’s name, company name, and other data from the CRM.

Sales Enablement

Sales enablement software helps sellers quickly access collateral like product specs, pricing sheets, and customer insights. It adds context to sales conversations so reps can take a personalized approach to the sales process.

Sales Engagement

A sales engagement platform is any tool that allows sales reps to connect with their potential buyers.

Examples include:

  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator
  • SalesLoft

Each of these platforms provides features like contact data, email templates, and tracking to make prospecting easier. It helps reps understand customer needs better and customize their outreach efforts accordingly.

Sales Presentation

Most sellers use Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or similar video conferencing tools to demonstrate products. In addition to video calling, sales presentation software includes:

  • Screen recording
  • Whiteboard and annotation tools
  • Call recording
  • Meeting transcription
  • Sales enablement

Sales reps use presentation software and plugins to run personalized and efficient sales meetings.

Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ)

CPQ software is both a critical data source for sales workflow management and a key tool for optimizing the sales process. Sellers use CPQ automatically configure products and bundled packages, create custom quotes for products or services, and turn those quotes into contracts once they’re accepted.


DealRoom is the ultimate buyer engagement platform. It’s a ‘digital sales room’ that centralizes buyer/seller communication. It allows the buyer to manage documents, pricing, and other elements of the deal without leaving anyone out of the process.

Analytics & Dashboard

A sales dashboard gives the sales team an overview of their current pipeline, revenue, and metrics. It’s updated in real-time, every time a seller moves a prospect to the next stage.

High-performing teams also use analytics tools for forecasting and optimization. This helps them identify trends in customer interactions, notice patterns in their sales process, and fine-tune the way they market products or services.

Most of these capabilities are built into CRM, but sales orgs also use third-party data tools like Databox, Tableau, and Looker to glean deeper insights.

People Also Ask

What is a sales flowchart?

A sales process flowchart visually represents the steps a sales team takes to close more deals. It outlines distinct activities, from lead generation to closing deals and post-sales onboarding and nurturing, that help sellers understand which tasks are necessary at each stage.

What is the most important step in the sales process?

The most important step in the sales process is the needs assessment. If a customer doesn’t truly benefit from using the product, they will churn earlier. If they leave a negative review, it also looks negatively on the company’s reputation. The most important characteristic of a qualified buyer is that the product or service can truly solve their pain points.