At it’s simplest, a sales process is a systematic approach involving a series of steps that enable a sales team to win more business, increase margins and make more sales through referrals.
Here’s the rub: to be effective, a sales process must be based upon the customer’s buying process, which is the set of decisions that the customer wants to make, in the order that the customer wants to make them. It’s not only about how you sell but also about how they want to buy.
In order to develop a robust sales process for you, we start with the basics. This means checking that you know which are your target markets and who are your ideal and actual customers. Sound obvious but you would be surprised!
From there, we establish how sales works for you at the moment – what happens from lead generation to order placement and beyond.
This involves looking at your successes – the orders that you have won and what was done to win them – and your failures – those orders you didn’t win and why you failed to secure the business.
Your side of the story will come from your internal and external salespeople. The other side will come from those customers who placed their business with you and, where possible, from those who placed their business elsewhere.
Once we have this ‘baseline’ information, we map out the key stages of the process and what activities take place at each stage.
Additionally, each stage of the process will specify the goals to be met before the prospect can move to the next stage.
A good sales process is not a straitjacket to bind your sales people. Rather, it is a framework that identifies what needs to happen at each stage but not how it should happen.
It also needs buy-in from your sales management and team so that it is fully implemented. To help with this, the final document is only signed off after consultation with the parties who will be using it.
Benefits of a Formal Sales Process
Any new process is often seen purely as a management control tool. A formal sales process will give sales management:
- a clear view as to the status of each project for each sales person
- the ability to focus on key issues at opportunity review as the basic information is already captured
- visibility of any areas of weakness for any given salesperson, allowing you to identify coaching requirements
- ease of onboarding for any new salespeople as they will have a ready-made framework within which to operate
However, there are also benefits for the individual salespeople:
- a clear view of what needs to happen and when
- a record of whether or not that has been achieved
- a clear view of where things aren’t happening as they should and they need to focus their efforts
- a roadmap to hitting their targets!
Still not convinced? Here’s what some other folks think about having a formal sales process:
Commence Corporation said “organizations without a documented sales process often exhibit several common symptoms, such as a disconnected and manual approach to selling and a lengthy cycle time to find prospects, get quotes out the door, and close orders…Other symptoms of process deficiencies include abundant and costly errors, evidenced by expedited orders and high volumes of returns, and inadequate margin on too many quotes, resulting in deflated profitability.”
Harvard Business Review discovered that “sales forces were most effective at managing their sales pipelines if they had invested time in defining a credible, formalized sales process (and that) there was an 18% difference in revenue growth between companies that defined a formal sales process and companies that didn’t.”
Contact us if you would like to create a formal sales process or revise your current one.