In the business world, consistency, efficiency, and productivity are all crucial to success. With employees working in a variety of environments, across different time zones, and towards diverse goals, companies need to implement “standardized practices” to drive positive results.
That’s where Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) come in. An SOP is essentially the step-by-step guide employees can follow whenever they’re completing a crucial task. Companies use SOPs for everything from onboarding new employees to qualifying leads.
Today, we’re looking at what SOPs mean to the sales team, and how you can create the right standard operating procedures for your high-performance staff.
Standard Operating Procedures, or SOPs are the step-by-step instructions employees follow when executing a routine task. They essentially walk your employees through everything they need to do successfully accomplish something, whether making a cold call, or creating a marketing campaign.
While different companies take various approaches to creating standard operating procedures, most SOPs have the following elements:
Some SOPs may also guide employees towards other resources that may be able to help them. For instance, an SOP covering how to onboard a customer may include links, or information on how to find resources for employee education and training.
Standard Operating Procedures are common in virtually every part of a business, for all different types of employees. For sales teams, they’re often used as a tool to help drive productivity, increase revenue, and improve win rates. After companies find out which “processes” lead to better conversions, higher retention rates, or loyalty, they create SOPs to help replicate positive results.
There are many different types of SOPs sales teams can use, such as:
The types of Sales team SOPs outlined above offer just a brief snapshot of all the various standard operating procedures that can be leveraged in a business environment. Sales leaders can design SOPs for everything, from succession planning, to conducting market research.
Ultimately, any process that can benefit from repetition can be enhanced by an SOP. The right document gives your employees the guidance they need to successfully complete a range of tasks, and replicate the results you’ve already achieved in your organization.
Here’s an example of an SOP for a cold-calling process:
Title: Cold-Calling SOP
Scope: Applies to all team members conducting cold calling activities.
Purpose: Standardizing the cold-calling process based on previous insights into which strategies and methodologies work.
Now you understand what Standard Operating Procedures are and how they work, you can start building SOPs of your own. As mentioned above, this can be an excellent way to standardize processes in your business, and improve overall efficiency and productivity.
Fortunately, writing SOPs isn’t as complicated as it seems. Just follow these steps:
To start, you’ll need a list of essential “processes” that are crucial to how your team members work every day. In the sales landscape, there are various processes that could benefit from standardization, from how your employees approach prospecting, to how they validate leads.
Your list of “essential processes” might include things like:
There’s no one-size-fits-all way to presenting SOPs effectively. Your SOPs might feature your specific brand voice, videos, and images, as well as step-by-step guidelines. The key to success is making sure your SOPs are easy to understand and follow.
If you’re not sure how to format your SOPs, speak to your teams. You can ask for insights into the kind of documents they consider to be most useful in their workflows. Once you have an idea of how to format everything, make sure you’re consistent with your process every time you create an SOP.
This will help to minimize the risk of unnecessary confusion among your staff members.
To ensure your SOPs are successful, you need to check that your step-by-step instructions are accurate. This means speaking to the employees that are going to be using your standard operating procedures every day.
Ask them how they complete certain tasks already, and what kind of resources and guidance they need to make them more efficient and effective. Collect data about the processes and strategies that have worked for your business in the past, for a data driven approach.
After you write your SOP, ask for feedback from the employees it is intended for. This will help you address any errors or gaps.
Now, it’s time to write your SOP, following the structure you defined above. Remember, simple, straightforward instructions are crucial to success. Don’t use too much jargon or confusing terminology, and try to keep your SOPs as brief as possible.
The fewer words you can include in your step-by-step guide, the easier it will be for employees to use and remember each crucial SOP.
Once you’re happy with the SOP, share it with your team members, and encourage them to follow the instructions provided (or share feedback if there’s an issue).
Many SOPs, particularly those in the sales environment, need to be updated regularly. Your business processes, customers, and teams will change, so your procedures will evolve too. Every year or so, review all of your SOPs and make sure they’re still relevant.
In between “review” periods, make sure you’re open to listening to feedback and information shared by your employees about how you can improve the standard operating procedure.
Creating SOPs for your sales team might not seem like the most exciting way to empower your staff, but it’s more valuable than you might think. The right SOPs are fundamental to ensuring internal processes can run smoothly. They help to save your staff members time, familiarize new employees with your workflows, and increase results.
If you want more tips on how to optimize your SOPs, or you need help training your employees to become more productive, join Hypcccycl today. Here, you can learn from industry experts, implement gamified training experiences, and optimize your workforce.
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