Establishing a Sensible Sales Process: Low-hanging Sales Improvement Fruit
How often does your organization talk about wanting to increase sales? Surely during annual planning and budgeting exercises, but I’d also guess during quarterly, monthly, and even more frequent reviews of sales and performance figures. Some issues may have obvious fixes, but you’ve also likely pursued various strategies to move the needle across your sales organization.
If things are going well enough (meaning that you and your team are consistently hitting or coming close to achieving your targets), then you might be inclined to follow the status quo. But if you have a mandate to improve sales, don’t overlook the low-hanging fruit in front of you: instituting a formal sales process.
Establishing, documenting, and managing to a good sales process is an essential aspect of any sales improvement effort. According to CSO Insights, 60% of companies report that they have not implemented any kind of formal sales process. This is despite the fact that 82% of companies report improved performance when they implement a formal sales process — one-third say significantly improved.
To management, the benefits of instituting a formal sales process are overwhelming, including:
- Improving sales pipeline visibility
- Obtaining measurable sales metrics
- Forecasting revenue more accurately
- Improving alignment with marketing
- Enabling scaling of successful revenue generation practices
- Increasing number of deals in the sales pipeline
- Increasing the size of wins
- Shortening the length of the sales cycle
When all of these benefits come to fruition, sellers will:
- Increase productivity
- Achieve higher percentage of met quotas
- Increase wins
- Obtain more leads
- Standardize customer interactions
- Shorten the length of the sales cycle
Improving your sales process doesn’t need to be painful, and it can help you drive your sales strategy more effectively. For example, we had a client that wanted to restructure their sales organization to sell in teams and was trying to figure out how to get their people from selling as individuals to selling in teams.
Even though the client didn’t have a training budget, they said, “We have a sales process, but we’re not sure it is any good. We have people who are running around doing different things. Let’s capture what we do best, document it, and put some measures against it. Then, we can create a plan to get our reps to adopt and follow that new process.”
Richardson essentially helped them design their sales process for the future and the process training and tools to help make the change real for front-line sales managers and reps. To their CEO, establishing and following the new process was very much the strategy enabler they sought. Just having that tool, which took the form of a two-sided laminated document, gave reps a concrete map to follow and sales leaders something against which to manage. It was the advantage they needed to make the transition from individual to team selling.
This was a big improvement for the client. Critical metrics — such as wins, percent of reps achieving quota, and forecast accuracy — improved as the company’s sales process became more systematic. It helped set expectations across the organization and helped instill management discipline to hit the numbers.
Do you already follow a formal sales process? If so, good for you! But how long ago was it established, and how long has it been since you reviewed it? Is it effective? Does it reflect how you do business today?
Whether you’re initiating a formal sales process for the first time or revamping an existing one, don’t forget to model it based on your client experience. You have an opportunity to put your clients at the center of your workflow as opposed to trying to fit them into an inside-out model. Make it easy for your reps to maintain client focus as you design the sales improvement process that will take your business into the future.
Richardson: Sales Training and Strategy Execution – helping leaders prepare their organization to execute sales strategies and achieve business objectives.