If you Don’t Have a Sales Process, you’re Doing it Wrong

Stick to the process.

This is a concept constantly preached by all manners of leadership, from professional sports coaches and military commanders to teachers and CEOs. A strong belief in the foundational process – instead of a results-oriented mindset – can inspire a team and carry them through slumps and tough times. That is why implementing a formal, stringent and well-defined sales process is an absolute sales management must.

What is a sales process?

At its core, a sales process is a proven and documented approach to sales undertaken by a team of reps. The messaging is consistent and there are job aids – such as sales tools and key sales metrics – that represent a team’s winning ideal for how they hope to work on and convert opportunities.

There are two critical aspects to any sales process:

  • Standardized scripts – This does not mean that each of the reps spouts the exact same robotic message on the phone, over and over again. Rather, it means that the messaging and framework of these conversations are consistent. For example, instead of touting features or talking price, the messaging of a team’s sales script might focus on identifying the customer’s pain and finding solutions, rather than products.

  • Democratized sales metrics – This means that data and key sales metrics are available to all members of the sales team. Sales VPs will not be able to unleash the full potential of sales analytics unless each individual rep is fully taking advantage of the actionable insights and transparency afforded by open data. 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.

What do sales reps stand to gain from a sales process?

Individuals are typically loathe to be held to a strict regimen, preferring to work on their own autonomous accord. However, a sales process doesn’t work unless there is 100% buy-in from sales reps – simply saying “Do this or you’ll be fired!” is not an effective way to get buy-in. Instead, sell your reps on what they have to gain from following a sales process, such as…

  • Being more efficient – The magic of routine is that it improves efficiency. Sales reps who have the sales process down pat will act on it as second nature, totally confident and comfortable to work effectively within it.

  • Developing stronger skills through repetition – The 10,000-hour rule – where the key to success in any field is a matter of practicing something for 10,000 hours – certainly applies in sales. Imagine how effective your sales reps will be when they work on the same process over and over again?

  • Not having to reinvent the wheel with every new opportunity – Again, this comes down to a comfort level and having the confidence to execute seamlessly. Instead of having to come up with new approaches on every opportunity, they can simply rely on the tried-and-true nature of their sales process.

  • Having next-step guidance – When your sales reps get stuck on one tricky aspect of a particularly difficult opportunity, they don’t have to run to you, the manager, for advice. They can simply look to their sales process or sales playbook for a helpful guide on what to do next.

  • A sense of company commitment, support and dedication – Sell your sales reps on the strength of a united team. Just as sports coaches want all of their players to be on the same page and run the same plays, so do sales managers want their sales reps operating in the same manner.

  • Closing more deals! – Your sales process works. Your sales metrics aren’t lying – this process delivers results. Are your reps resisting such a regimented approach? Simply show them the undeniable and unbeatable proof in the pudding that is your sales metrics.

What do sales managers stand to gain from a sales process?

As much as sales reps need a sales process, so do sales managers. In fact, the sales process might do more to make a sales manager’s job easier, not to mention more effective and more efficient. A sales process allows sales managers and Sales VPs to…

  • Manage expectations and hold reps accountable – Each rep is expected to adhere to the sales process at every level (unless circumstances call for exceptions). It’s simple – if a rep isn’t sticking to the sales process, they are not meeting their expectations.

  • Effectively manage the sales funnel and the sales pipeline – The sales process should outline crystal-clear steps to take at each level, including what to do in terms of data entry and data quality. Sales managers can effectively manage both the sales pipeline and funnel knowing that the data-entry steps throughout the process have assured a high level of data quality.

  • Better forecast bookings – There are many factors that go into an accurate sales forecast, including opportunity stages and sales rep metrics. Unless these are consistent and accurate across your entire sales team, your sales forecasts will not be accurate or reliable.

  • Determine where in the process reps are getting stuck – This is a critical aspect of sales coaching. If you don’t know where your team’s weaknesses are, how can you provide coaching that is actually salient, relevant and helpful? Using the sales process as a benchmark, with the accompanying sales performance metrics, allows you to effectively diagnose weaknesses no matter where they lie in the process.

 

Now you know why, if you don’t have a stringent and clear sales process implemented, you’re doing it all wrong. In an upcoming blog post, we will dive into how to create a sales process and what key elements belong.

Do you have a formal sales process at your organization? Has it been effective?

 

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