Before you can manage your sales process, you need to know exactly what that sales process looks like. Ideally, your sales process maps to the way your prospective customers engage and want to buy. But no matter how you get there, mapping out the specific, common steps prospects take on their way towards a relationship with you will not only save you time but increase your ability to manage and close more business.

Most small organizations don’t yet have their sales process mapped in this level of detail. But even large organizations often fail to create consistent definitions of the sales process by which the sales and marketing teams can operate.

Without these definitions, every salesperson may have a different idea of what a qualified opportunity looks like. Your pipeline reports can never accurately tell you when business might close. The marketing team delivers inconsistent leads, and is unsure of their role after the lead is created.

Below is a template for enumerating the qualified lead and opportunity stages inherent in your sales process. If you’re operating in an existing and/or mature sales organization, this tool may simply be a way to document what you’re already doing. But I’d bet there are still inconsistencies in assumptions and definitions across your organization that this tool will help flesh out.

I like this tool not only because it spans both the lead and opportunity stages (thereby reflecting stages in both marketing and sales), but it also makes explicit what the role of sales & marketing is at each stage to help the prospect move forward.