Category Archives: Sales Process
If your organization has an established sales process, congratulations. According to “Companies with a Formal Sales Process Generate More Revenue,” published in the January 2015 issue of Harvard Business Review, such B2B companies generally saw an 18% boost in revenues by using their planned processes.
The two keys here are 1) to have a credible process and 2) to use it. The best way to make sure sales reps are using the process – and using it effectively – is through coaching conversations between sales managers and their teams.
As the HBR article also reported, companies that spent at least three hours per month managing each sales rep’s pipeline performance saw 11% greater revenue than those spending less time.
Further, how those three hours were spent was equally important. “The primary focus of a pipeline meeting should be to help reps develop a game plan to move deals forward, not just scrubbing CRM data and forecasting revenue,” say authors Jason Jordan and Robert Kelly.
At Richardson, we call this “pipeline coaching.” This term is part of the common language we advocate for sales teams in order to keep everyone on the same page. Simply put, pipeline coaching involves a conversation between sales manager and rep that focuses on deals in the works.
High-impact coaching questions help managers confirm that their reps have the level of skills and knowledge needed to achieve verifiable outcomes at every stage in » Continue Reading.
There are two things that unite virtually every sales organization: 1) the desire to improve sales performance and 2) to achieve results as quickly as possible. In this series of posts, I discuss three ways in which the sales process can be used as a blueprint for rapid behavior change that drives better results. The first post in the series focused on common language; the second post focused on consistency provided by the sales process; and this final post addresses forecast accuracy.
Improved Sales Forecasting Accuracy
For sales forecasts to be meaningful, they must be credible and accurate. Yet, on average, “24% of all ‘sure-thing’ sales deals — current customer relationship management (CRM) opportunities deemed 80% or more likely to close in the current month — eventually slip out of the real-time forecast into subsequent selling windows … or actually don’t ever close at all.” This sobering statistic comes from research reported by the Aberdeen Group in June 2015.
The time to discover unexpected deal slippage or loss is certainly not at the end of the forecasting period, be it quarterly or monthly. It is important to pinpoint problems as quickly as possible to allow for course corrections. This takes a dynamic sales process that incorporates a considered series of stages, activities, verifiable outcomes, and high-impact coaching questions. The process should be flexible and scalable, with room in the execution for good judgement by sales professionals.
Companies » Continue Reading.
Using the Sales Process as a Blueprint for Rapid Behavior Change
#1: Establish a Common Language
There are two things that unite virtually every sales organization: 1) the desire to improve sales performance and 2) to achieve results as quickly as possible. In this series of posts, I will discuss three ways in which the sales process can be used as a blueprint for rapid behavior change that drives better results. The first in the series focuses on the importance of establishing a common language to be used within the sales process.
Common Language is Essential
Change happens when a majority of people begin doing new things repeatedly. For sales organizations attempting to achieve a step change in performance, it all starts with the sales process. An effective and intuitive sales process will introduce a common language that sales professionals and their managers can use to discuss opportunities and their stage-by-stage progression through the pipeline.
Language is important. It’s not only what people say, or how they say it, but what they mean when they use certain words. When people share a common language, they become more unified. They “get” what the other is saying. They’re on the same page.
This doesn’t mean everyone has to speak English or Spanish or German. It means whatever their native tongue, sellers should speak the language of selling. At Richardson, we focus on terms like verifiable outcomes to mean leading indicators » Continue Reading.
This three-part series on the sales management process began with Part I: Why Sales Leaders Need to Craft and Control It and Part II: Team Cadence Builds Accountability and Results. Now, I’ll address the remaining, critical element of communicating upward by scheduling one-on-one reviews with senior leaders.
There are many reasons for maintaining regular and scheduled one-on-one meetings with your senior leader. Within the hierarchy of your organization, your leader is an essential link to the next higher levels of management, often to the C-suite itself. Rule of thumb is to never surprise your boss, positively or negatively; but, beyond that guidance, you need to keep them informed of your plans, your progress, and how you are addressing any challenges. Think of your leader as your champion, representing your work and value to higher levels of the organization. At the same time, your leader is your conduit to those higher levels, funneling key information from above and providing key updates on initiatives back to you.
One-on-one meetings allow you to have a consistent touch point in which you can convey the status of each component involved in the sales management process. Your updates should be comprehensive, spanning what your team has accomplished since the last meeting, pipeline results, and activities underway that will lead to future results and provide value.
Meetings provide a framework to discuss how you are managing your team, what your people do, where they » Continue Reading.
In my previous post on the Sales Management Process — Why Sales Leaders Need to Craft and Control It — I talked about the necessity for sales leaders to have such a sales process and the foundational element of account planning sessions.
In Part II, I’ll focus on the people factor and developing a sales team cadence of engagement that builds accountability and results. There are a number of elements involved in developing a regular and reinforcing rhythm of events to refocus every member of your sales team on what needs to be done and when.
Pipeline and forecast reviews provide regular touch points to track the progress of opportunities in the pipeline, improving the accuracy of forecasts. As a sales leader, these reviews offer the chance to assess how well your people are performing, their strengths and skill gaps, along with the ability to coach in the moment as deals move or get delayed in the pipeline. Additionally, such reviews allow you as the leader to hold your people accountable by setting the right expectations around forecasting.
Individual development planning sessions are a natural extension of annual development plans that should be developed collaboratively between sales leaders and their direct reports, although such development should ultimately be owned by the sales professionals themselves. They are the ones who should be responsible and accountable for their own professional development, proactively identifying what they want to focus on in the » Continue Reading.
I am such a hard-core believer in the value of having a sales management process because I know without it, long-term success will not happen. My loyalty stems from watching a mentor from earlier in my career construct and implement a process that became a motivating force for achieving results. When I transitioned from sales into management, I followed his lead and began incorporating this critical element into my work. I now credit it for my success.
How to Control your Team with a Simple Sales Management Process
Simply put, a sales management process is a disciplined approach to driving multiple facets of performance, with regularly scheduled touch points along the way. By defining such a process, specific to the goals and culture of your own organization, you can drive both execution and accountability over the long term.
I recommend this type of a process for any sales leader, whether you are responsible for a team of direct-reporting individuals or a larger global team. Even senior sales leaders should institute their own consistent, repeatable management process so that everyone can under them — every individual, every line of business, and every division — becomes aligned and committed to the same strategic path.
Sales Management Process Implementation Priorities
When you introduce a defined process into your organization, know that it’s not a short-term exercise running over a 30- or 90-day cycle. It takes discipline » Continue Reading.
In my previous posts — Sales Process? You Should Probably Call It a Pursuit Process and Dynamic Sales Process Leads to Dynamite Results — I talked about the value of a dynamic sales process that helps sales professionals pursue opportunities in an optimal way.
In this post, I take the discussion a step further by talking about validation of the sales process. After all, if your sale process isn’t valid, if it doesn’t reflect the way your sales team should be pursuing opportunities, or if it doesn’t engender confidence about opportunities in the pipeline, then it really doesn’t matter if the salesforce uses it or not.
There are several ways to validate a sales process, and the one I can speak to most effectively is the methodology we use here at Richardson when creating a customized and dynamic process for clients. Over four to six weeks, we collaboratively work through a multiphase methodology:
Phase 1: Data Collection – We begin by meeting with the company’s top performers, sales leaders, and other stakeholders who can provide insights into the sales or account management cycle. Phase 2: Development of the Branded Sales Process – We develop a customized sales process that aligns with the company’s sales cycle and buying patterns, and we map it out in a matrix that identifies specific accountabilities. Phase 3: Validation and KPI Phase – We validate the sales process itself with line stakeholders in a workshop » Continue Reading.
In my previous post — Sales Process? You Should Probably Call It a Pursuit Process — I talked about the different types of sales processes that companies have, if they have one at all.
In this post, I’ll add some proof points that speak to the value of using a dynamic sales process within your organization.
In my current role, I sit in countless interviews with top-performing sales professionals while in the process of working with companies to develop their own customized and dynamic sales processes. I get to hear what those who excel do and do well to get results, and these approaches become part of that company’s dynamic sales process. What they do might also be considered best practices that can be adapted and more broadly applied.
For example, in a recent interview, one top performer talked about considering not just his external clients but his internal ones as well. Imagine that! These were the company’s experts who he would be touching base with for their input and feedback as he assessed the prospect’s needs and his potential solution. He said that most sales professionals tended to look at their sales organization and the prospect’s organization, but there was great benefit in developing relationships with internal sources who might support the sale or provide key insights. His recommendation as a best practice: identify internal experts who should be a part of the process.
Whether or not this » Continue Reading.