Despite advancements in tools and resources available to sales organizations, sustainable success starts with a strong framework and foundation, or what is commonly referred to as a “sales process”. Before you roll your eyes, I am not talking about layers of consult speak accompanied by endless graphs, leading to mostly confusion.
A sales process is a set of actions executed in a logical sequence, with a set of procedures for every stage of the sale. These include objectives, actions, desired outcomes, inputs such as resources, time, expertise, tools; all focused on achieving consistent and predictable outputs, i.e. loyal customers and revenue.
A good sales process is your road map for success; it needs reflect your sale, including metrics and measure, evolve with market conditions and your collective experience, and most importantly, be aligned with your customers’ “buying process”. While there may be some effort to establish an evolving sales process, the benefits are many, almost immediate and continuous. Let me highlight a few here.
Having a process allows you to bring greater predictability to your sales using metrics and critical milestones, reducing subjectivity and creating a more objective and accurate forecast of revenues. A better grasp on when and how much sales will be closed, benefits to the whole organization, not just sales. If you are a manufacturer, inaccurate forecast can wreak havoc on resource planning, related costs and time. Having a dependable sales process helps everyone know what stage potential orders are in, when the order is likely to come in and as a result what resources need to be ready when, bringing cost and time efficiency.
Some enlightened manufacturers and extending visibility to their key suppliers, allowing them to leverage more benefits from a vendor managed inventory program. In fact, MRO providers are limiting their value to customers if they are not plugged into the client’s sales process. In general, having a good sales process allows you to align with other internal processes and create ongoing benefits that impact top and bottom lines.
Another upside to the process and the increased objectivity it brings to sales is the role it can play in helping sales managers be more effective coaches and leaders, and by extension create a stronger sales team. It drives improvement in individual reps and the entire team, which in turn plays a role in improving and evolving your sales process. Once you have the right sales managers in place, they are measurably more effective armed with a process. They consistently do a much better job in developing and helping their reps because they can take personalities and subjectivity out of their discussions, and focus the discussion on what steps have to be taken to successfully execute the sale. “It not about my way or your way, it’s about what we have to do to move the sale from here to there, based on a proven road map.”
Having a sales process helps in hiring better reps. A process allows you to better screen candidates on a number of levels, for example their ability and willingness to work disciplined environment, or evaluating their ability to execute each stage of the sales. None of us is perfect, but if I can assess the real skills of a candidate, I can better plan their on boarding, including potential training required to accelerate their time to success and being a contributing member of the team. This also improves your ability to retain reps who want to succeed, continue to improve and make more money; this brings a dramatic benefit to client satisfaction and loyalty.
As mentioned above, alignment with your buyer’s process is a key benefit. It eliminates the common risk of your sales reps getting ahead of the buyer and risking a deal. We have all seen sellers trying to “close”, while the buyer is still defining requirements, instead of helping the buyer, we end up scaring them and driving them to the competition. Sharing your sales process with your buyer will also encourage them to share their “buying process” and increase sales.
These are only a few of the benefits you can realize with a dynamic sales process, there are more, but you need to take the first step of defining, documenting and rolling out a process to you sales team.