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How to Create a Solid Sales Approval Process and Workflow

Chris Black
September 22, 2022
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Did you know your sales reps are exhausted?

67% of salespeople are close to experiencing sales job burnout and rate their stress level as an astonishing 7 out of 10. They are tired of manually flipping through records, documents, and endless email notifications. Of dealing with unintentional errors and delays in document sign-offs.

Things are different now, and sales reps want to learn and apply modern ways of working. As the sales leader, the best you can do is help your reps prioritize and automate their tasks. 

Making your sales approval process as seamless as possible is a good starting point. 

This article will help you identify a good process for approving deals and discuss tips to automate it. Let's get on with it by defining the sales approval process and workflow.

What is a Sales Approval Process?

A sales approval process is a sequence of tasks carried out by the sales team to get sign-offs on documents or deal details throughout the sales cycle. It's a series of chronological steps to ensure you complete work consistently every time. 

This lets the right people view and approve sales documents and deal specifics while allowing sales reps to focus on closing deals instead of chasing internal approvals.

The following are a few examples of sales approval workflow processes:

  • Sales Quote Workflow
  • Sales Invoice Workflow
  • Sales Discount Approval Workflow

Sales approval workflows also give documents the proper vetting needed before going out. They keep payments and records from going missing and confirm that company regulatory guidelines are being strictly adhered to. 

These processes also help your team stay well informed about the documents being created and sent out. In turn, you can collaborate effectively with your teams and ensure nothing important gets ignored.

Common Problems With Most Approval Processes

Problems are inevitable—sales approval processes are no different. When creating an approval process, you can face issues like:

1. Lack of Standardized Processes

Here's the deal: you won't find cookie-cutter steps outlining how to circulate, review, and approve deals.

This can lead to disorganization resulting in documents being delayed, forgotten, or incorrect. Imagine losing a good deal because the approval request was buried deep in a manager's email box. Yikes!

Another instance is when your reps need approval from more than one manager from different departments like legal and accounting. 

It gets slow and tiresome to sort through loads of documents and send them to each manager for authorization. Without a standardized approval process, sales reps will be stuck waiting for sign-off on the documents before moving forward with their deals.

2. Omissions and Errors in Documents

It's very easy for documents to go out to clients riddled with typos and silly errors when you don't have an efficient approval workflow. Think inaccurate pricing on materials and discount guidelines on items. 

Needless to say, these won't help you win any brownie points with your clients.

3. Tedious Manual Work

Many teams use email and spreadsheets to handle approvals mainly because it's free. But have you considered how many hours get wasted managing these documents manually? Or how many emails get lost in the shuffle? 

Short answer: Way too many!

Doing anything manually can be frustrating and time-consuming. Automating routine tasks is the most effective solution to building a fast and efficient approval process.

4. Lack of Transparency

Without a formal approval process, there is a lack of transparency that prevents you from getting insights on crucial issues, such as where approvals are stuck and who is responsible for what throughout the sales pipeline.  

How to Create an Ironclad Sales Approval Process

Most approval processes force reps to spend the bulk of their time tracking paperwork, replying to emails, scheduling meetings, and dealing with a lot of miscommunication in general. This is time they could've otherwise spent on more important tasks that would help promote sales and revenue. 

Here are some tips for creating a solid sales approval process that boosts productivity:

1. Define Critical Elements of Your Approval Request

As a sales operations manager, your ultimate goal should be to make the sales process as seamless as possible. One way to do this is by ensuring your reps include the following elements in their approval request:

  • Deal amount
  • Discount offered to the customer
  • Discount requested from customer
  • Link to account in Salesforce
  • Estimated close date

2. Set an Approval Order

An approval order requires all sale orders to be approved by someone authorized to do so before being filled. This is especially important when you offer discounted deals. 

Suppose you allow your sales reps to give a discount of up to 10%. Anything more than that will require approval from a manager. If a sales rep wants to give, say, a 12% discount, they'll have to send an alert for approval, after which the manager will either approve or refuse the order.

3. Define Response Times

Create relevant deadlines for your sales documents so everyone who needs to be part of the approval process knows how long they have to respond to the approval request. This will help you prevent backlogs and keep your sales process moving smoothly.

4. Automate as Much as Possible

Automating with software is the most efficient way to create a solid sales approval process. 

Set up guardrails in your sales process and get control over what goes out to the customer. Automating your approval workflows also lets you collaborate efficiently with your team and ensure you don't miss anything important.

Want to get the most out of your workflow software? Ensure it has the necessary functionalities like customization, approval-based routing, email notifications (or even better, real-time alerts in tools like Slack or Teams), templates, and record-keeping. 

Use tools that can help you automate the approval process, so you can:

  • Create new approval workflows and manage existing ones
  • Set a condition and the corresponding action
  • Add notes that other collaborators can view 
  • Enable all managers to see everyone working on the document
  • Provide a reason for rejecting a request

How to Automate Your Approval Process

Platforms like Salesforce help you automate actions such as creating tasks, updating fields, and sending emails or outbound messages. 

While that's great, navigating the Salesforce platform means you have to live on the platform and follow through with all the traditional "best practices". This eats up the time your sales reps would have spent closing more deals.

If you're using Salesforce and looking for an easy way to automate your sales approval process, try Rattle

Rattle connects Salesforce and Slack bi-directionally, allowing sales reps and managers to get everything they need for their sales approval workflow in one place.  

It solves three key problems for its customers:

  • Productivity: Updating Salesforce is time-consuming. Salesforce has poor sales rep productivity from manual data entry, slow manual approvals, juggling between systems/tools, manual clean-up (Ops/Mgmt wasting time), and time to build internally.
  • Communication and Visibility: Native Salesforce has limited collaboration functionality. No communication visibility or real-time alerts exist within Salesforce.
  • Data Hygiene: Missing or inaccurate data has a big downstream impact on your business. The lack of data input into Salesforce from sales reps causes poor data management/hygiene.

Rather than managing your sales approval processes through email alerts and multiple Salesforce logins, send it as a Slack alert using Rattle. 

After selecting the request you want to approve, you can configure the Slack message body for each step of your approval process, plus select who will get this message at every step. Once everyone involved has approved or rejected the request, you can send out an alert. 

Customizing this message to provide more context is also possible.

In a nutshell, Rattle automates request management by helping you communicate with your team faster and more effectively. In turn, your sales team can maximize their valuable time and focus on closing more deals and helping increase revenue, creating a truly productive workspace.

Want to accelerate your sales funnel? Try Rattle free today.

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