One of my recent projects involved helping a small consulting company to review and revamp their existing sales operation, processes and practices. The challenges this client was having had to do with its ability to scale its business as the company had doubled in size within 12 months, to build a visible & predictable revenue flow so that it could plan ahead for its business, and control its cost of sales as they were missing their cost targets on regular basis.
Once I had a chance to spend a couple of days with the leadership and the sales executives it became clear that one of the core problems they were having was the following:
- The sales reps and managers didn’t believe in, or followed the sales process that they thought they had
- The sales process that they thought they had was adopted from an unknown source and had little to do with the way their industry and the way they operated.
As you would expect the outcome was that every lead, opportunity & every customer engagement was being handled differently depending on which sales person was dealing with it on which day. Sitting through a number of pipeline reviews I heard a lot of personal stories and individual ‘takes’ on what was happening with a client or opportunity without any solid view of where the opportunity was. Needless to say you cannot sustain and grow an organization with this kind of processes, or lack thereof.
IF YOU BUILD IT THEY WILL FOLLOW:
I read an interesting short article on 3 Tips For Successfully Managing Your Sales Pipeline , backed up with some stats highly recommended that a clearly defined & communicated sales process is key to successful sales management. Yet I come across many organizations who don’t follow this basic guideline.
There are thousands of sales processes being used across industries and businesses that could yield much better outcome than not having one. But here are ten tips on how to choosing the right sales process for your organization:
- ALIGN WITH THE BUYER: Make sure your sales process aligns with the way your clients buy and not with the way you like to sell. We all have seen and heard it in recent years. Buyers are controlling the buying cycle, not the sellers. It is time to stop trying to change that. There are millions of articles and books on the topic of customer buying process out there that you can read up on. Reach out to us if you like to find out more.
- KEEP IN SHORT AND SIMPLE: Most sales/buying processes that are backed up by solid research have around 5 to 7 phases. Unless you are in a very unique business you shouldn’t need to go any deeper than this. I have seen companies with sales processes as many as 15 distinct phases, but very rare.
- PUT UP ROADSIGNS: Make sure you define clear and easy to follow milestones for each of the phases that helps you and the team to track and measure progress in a more objective way.
- SPREAD THE WORD: Make sure everyone in the organization (sales, sales managers, company leaders, sales ops finance, marketing) has a working knowledge of the sales process.
- FLM’S ARE KEY: The people who have the most power and influence over your sales reps are your Front Line sales Managers. Without their continued support nothing will happen. The FLM’s have to fully believe in it and are committed to driving and enforcing the process at every opportunity.
- DON’T FORGET YOUR PARTNERS: If you have channel partners of course you need to bring them onboard so that when you are collaborating on deals you are speaking the same language. Of course you may need to adjust the wording and phases a little to accommodate the way your partners work.
- MULTI-CHANNEL APPROACH: Communicate and reinforce your sales process through every channel available. Just blasting an email with the sales process you are using will not achieve any desirable outcome. It will only cause more chaos and confusion.
- BUILD AN INFRASTRUCTURE: Provide, build and offer simple tools such as apps, templates, diagrams, documents, video…etc. to make adoption easier for your staff
- IT’S A MARATHON: Establish an ongoing enablement and verification program that allows you to onboard your new and existing staff on the sales process. This is not a one-time event
- BE OPEN TO CHANGE: We live in a very dynamic world with many moving parts. Events and technologies could change the game in months. So be ready to change and adapt your sales process to new realities.
Contact us for a 30 minutes conversation on how to better scale your business, improve customer experience, improve sales visibility, drive cost of sales down and grow your business by implementing the right sales process.
About the author:
Mark Ghaderi is an author, sales coach, mentor, entrepreneur and social selling evangelist with twenty five years of driving business results across the globe.
Vital Strategies Pte Ltd. Provides Revenue Growth Services to companies across the APAC region, helping organizations to grow their top line through digital transformation and improving sales execution.
contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org