Sales process for dummies
This idea for sales leaders and sales people explains why having a sales process makes sense, how it benefits sales people, their leaders and what the key steps in the sales process are.
Why a sales process?
Process is a concept advocated by many leaders, from sports coaches and commanders to teachers and CEOs. Underlying this is a rock-steady belief in processes over a results-oriented only approach.
Results will follow as long as the process is sound and the steps are completed with great commitment and passion.
An additional benefit is that knowing there is a road and steps towards success, inspires a team and carry them through the inevitable tough times. This is why implementing a formal, stringent and well-defined sales process is central to effective sales management.
And when this process is captured and measured each step of the way, ideally through robust CRM, managers can support their sales teams and make better business decisions.
What is a sales process?
A sales process is a proven and documented approach to sales undertaken by a team of sales people. The messaging is consistent and there are sales aids – such as sales tools and key sales metrics. It is the ideal blueprint for success built by, and for the users.
There are two critical elements to a good sales process:
Logical steps that start with finding prospective customers, engaging them, presenting your products/services and end once a new deal has been agreed, gone live. In some companies the sales teams have latitude to be more creative and perhaps engage with a product demonstration and using this as a start for fact finding needs. In other organisations, sellers are required to strict scripting and follow each step. It is a matter of what works best.
Sales metrics – A data set that shows quality and quantity of all sales activity. It helps sellers and their leadership to understand what is (not) working well enough in each of the sales steps. Whether they are used to track sales activities, forecast more accurately or manage the sales pipeline, a team’s sales metrics should be available to all.
How customers benefit.
It saves time and adds value to the buying process through a structured approach. Buying has become an ever more difficult process. Gartner research demonstrates the complexity of stakeholder management and how meeting sales people occupies 17% of buyer's time. A supplier who adds value to the buyer's experience is more likely to win the business.
How sales people benefit.
Closing more deals – The sales process works and sales metrics aren’t lying. It delivers consistent results. As a seller I remember all my great sales and more importantly how I got them by understanding my numbers and closing ratios. Are your sales people resisting a regimented approach? Simply show them the undeniable and unbeatable proof in your sales metrics.
Improving efficiency – routine improves efficiency. No different to a performing artist singing the same songs many times over. They become better and better at it with less effort, leaving room for more. Sales people will find additional sales opportunity with the same customer if they apply the logic of the sales process. That means more revenues for their company and more satisfied customers.
Confidence – Having a track to run on and knowing that the track leads to success, build confidence in the sales person. This helps getting more sales.
Developing stronger skills through repetition – The more one practices, the better one gets at the job. Fact-finding skills, presentation and negotiation skills all improve dramatically as the velocity following the same steps goes up. The improved closing ratios mean more revenues.
No need to reinvent the wheel with every new opportunity – This comes down to a comfort level and confidence executing time and again. No need of having to come up with new unrehearsed approaches for every opportunity, the team can rely on the tried-and-tested nature of their sales process. Selling is about execution.
Structure – When a sales person gets stuck on a tricky aspect of a particularly difficult sales opportunity, they don’t have to revert to their manager for advice. They can simply review their sales process and often go back to an earlier step to re-start the opportunity.
How sales leaders and their organisations gain from a sales process.
In short, a measured sales process liberates a sales leader to support their team in the right areas and helps making better sales management decisions.
Better sales forecasts – A good sales process will allocate standard time frames to each sales stage. This combined with success ratios at each stage will help to predict sales outcomes.
It sets activity and results expectations – Each sales person is expected to adhere to the sales process at every level. If a he/she isn’t sticking to the sales process, they are not meeting their expectations.
Accountability – The transparency of the measured sales process creates accountability with sales people. They, and the rest of the team, see how well they are achieving.
Up to date information to manage the sales funnel – The sales process should outline between 5 and 8 crystal-clear steps to take at each level. Sales managers can effectively manage the sales funnel knowing each sales team member is keeping their sales funnel up to date.
Training needs analysis- The sales manager is responsible for training and motivating their sales team. By identifying strengths and weaknesses in each sales person’s sales funnel, the manager has an excellent starting point to train and motivate the sales team.
Having a sales process makes sense. It creates good sales habits. If you have no formalised sales process yet or believe a more structured approach will help your revenues, feel free to contact me.