Are you in a position to shorten your sales cycle, improve the effectiveness of your coaching and accelerate your revenue growth? If not, you’ll want to hear what our panel of experts says about the key factors to success in sales process today. We asked each of our panelists to write a response to the following question posted on LinkedIn.
“My company currently has our sales process living inside a CRM system and it’s nothing more than a bunch of stages with numbers and check boxes on the opportunity record. We are looking to revamp it to make it more valuable and effective, for both our sellers and management.”
Here’s what our panelists had to say:
|Dan Dawson, Senior Partner of Force Management|
Begin with the end in mind!
Why do you have a sales process? What business outcomes are executives and sales leaders seeking to achieve? What are the current priorities; average sales price, sales cycle time, forecast reliability, or product mix? What metrics define success? These will drive how and what you do with your sales process.
You need to get three things right!
- Dynamically align your sales team’s actions with their buyers – Effective sales process maps to and facilitates your customers’ buying processes. A common mistake is to assume that one process fits all. If your customers are segmented and buy differently, then your process must take this into account.
- Facilitate advancement of the sale – Align assets, resources, people and their actions with the buying/selling process. Keep the big picture in perspective – every other department in the organization has some part to play in support of a sale and delivery.
- Embed sales best practices into the process – Your best sellers provide a map and compass for the best improvements. Empower managers to coach and collaborate throughout the process.
Now, assess the situation
- How hard or easy are we to buy from?
- How hard or easy do we want to be to buy from – and why?
- What do customers say about our process and how we sell?
- What do our sales people say about how our sales process supports their selling effectiveness?
- How do our best performers sell? What are the best practices?
- How does our sales process direct and empower our sellers to:
- Align with their customers?
- Articulate value and differentiation?
- Forecast accurately?
- Access and utilize assets, resources and people effectively and efficiently?
- How does our CRM system facilitate the “selling in the process” philosophy?
- What is the bigger picture of organizational, technological and process integration? Where are we in our ability to bring the various assets, resources, people and actions to bear in the buying and selling processes?
- What is the case for dynamic or different sales processes? How do our demand generation, inside sales, service renewal, channel, government, consumer, retail, commercial and enterprise sales teams relate with their clients?
Remember, this is a Journey, not an Event
- Get an independent perspective – Gain insight from others. Learn from their successes and avoid their failures. Seek expert help.
- Think holistically – Sales process is not a list in a CRM system for sales people to follow. It’s all the things listed above and more. Sales process is the tip of the iceberg, in establishing vital relationships with your future customers and partners.
- Plan for adoption – Rolling out a new sales process doesn’t mean sales people or others will use it. Focus on introducing, educating and reinforcing the value in effectively using their new process. Empower advancing the sale.
- Encourage improvement – Solicit ongoing feedback, take action, embrace change, and facilitate improvement.
|Joellen Sorenson, Director of Solutions Marketing for SAVO Group|
A “bunch of stages with numbers and check boxes on an opportunity record” doesn’t equate to a sales process. This description isn’t substantive enough to drive desired selling behavior or deliver positive business results for Sellers, both of which are required to drive forecasting accuracy up and to the right. In order to be both valuable and effective, a sales process should be:
Aligned to the customer buying cycle: A sales process is futile if it doesn’t align with critical, pre-determined events in a target customers’ buying process. Each stage of your sales process should consider your prospect’s interests, motivations, actions and influencers. Once these circumstances are understood and anticipated, you can align your organization’s sales activities to best address buyer objectives, dynamics and participants at each stage.
Prescriptive: For each sales stage, Sellers should be efficiently guided to a pre-determined set of selling activities, customer-facing techniques and behaviors known to drive results and advance an opportunity. Beyond sales stage entry and exit criteria, a sales process should instruct Sellers what to do next in order to promote efficiency and minimize distractions on the path of best practice execution.
Supported, coached and reinforced: Each sales stage should be fully supported with the right combination of campaign(s), messaging, selling materials and experts designated for a given customer interaction. This type of support is typically provided by Marketing, endorsed by Sales Training or Sales Ops, and routinely coached by first line sales leadership. Active feedback cycles should exist to determine what’s working, what’s not and what adjustments can be made.
If a sales process is prescriptive, supported and facilitates a smooth buying experience for customers, Sellers will experience the value of being fully-enabled and engage more consistently. This engagement will ultimately drive improved sales performance and a greater adoption of CRM, assuming the process is well-embedded.
Nattalie Hoch, Vice President of Sales for Miller Heiman
The challenge with just checking the box is that customers don’t always go in the order of how you have your stages set up. Your CRM system has to be flexible to match the customer’s behaviors and it has to capture both the customer’s buying cycle and your selling process. This flexibility would allow a rep to look back and see what parts of the customer strategy are strong and what parts are missing or still need to be addressed. If it doesn’t, the system needs to be revised.
How do you go about revising the CRM system? First, you need to understand where the system originated from, who built it, how they built it and why they built it. This information gives you a good foundation to begin the revision. The best plans are built by leveraging top performers – get a group together to discuss how they feel the process should work and what they’ve done to find success. Don’t underestimate your CRM tools. They should enable the process not inhibit it for the sake of reporting. If the system doesn’t give value back to the sales team you will be lucky to get even minimal compliance let alone widespread adoption.
|Mike Morton, Chief Operating Officer, Critical Path Strategies|
Simply checking the box on the opportunity record of your CRM is not a sales process. It’s actually pipeline management. A sales process brings clarity and authenticity to your pipeline. I challenge you to look at your sales process from your customer’s point of view.
Does it reflect the way your customers buy? Does it create predictable velocity for your opportunities? And, does it contain elements of our TRUST model:
- Technology – the technical “fit” of your offering to your customer’s environment
- Relationship – key relationships that must be successfully engaged and nurtured
- Utility – the utility and subsequent value of your offering that enables your customers to achieve their goals
- Strategy – the strategy and tactics your selling team must develop and execute to create customer-recognized value and the urgency to take action
- Team – the ability of the team to execute strategy and establish accountability of action and achievement
By incorporating these elements into your sales process, you will accelerate your revenue growth and achieve success.