Your sales process should be the path of least resistance to maximum sales.
Don’t let your sales process grow cold. A regular examination of the steps, purpose and activities will ensure it works to provide your team the path of least resistance to maximum sales. It should be ingrained in your sales culture and regularly examined to be sure it’s maintaining its value to the sales team.
Here are 7 questions to ask yourself about your sales process to be sure it’s meeting your needs:
1. Does your sales process align with your customers buying habits?
How your customers buy is as important as if, when or why they will buy. Your sales process should be able accommodate their buying methods. Some examples are: RFP process, committee vs single decision-maker, budget process, approval process, etc.
2. Is it flexible enough to accommodate both long and short sales cycles?
Be sure it can expand and contract like an accordion to accommodate quick decision-makers as well as lengthy committee-driven purchase cycles. One size-fits-all does not work for each sales role. Be flexible enough to allow for both transactional and complex opportunities. Modify the steps and activities in each step to ensure that each sales role has the most efficient path to maximizing sales opportunities.
For example, account managers typically don’t prospect for new business. Convert your “prospecting” step into a “proactive farming” step for your retention reps. Focus their activities on gaining new relationships inside of each account and looking for upsell and long-term partnering opportunities.
3. Is it customized or an off-the-shelf, “one size fits all” sales process?
Don’t force your salespeople to make a mental leap when attempting to apply the sales process. They should never ask the question, “How does this apply to me”? It should be seamless to their daily activities. Do the customization work required to create or modify each step and associated activities. It should be the path of least resistance for acquiring sales.
4. Does it encourage value-focused interactions with your customers?
Reducing a sales call to product/price-focused discussions is an indicator that your process (or your sales training program) needs a redo. Salespeople do best when they can walk through the sales process and uncover the prospects perceptions of value. From that, they can apply the right solution. Your steps should promote business-focus conversations that position your salespeople as advisors, rather that product/price driven reps.
5. Is your sales process too complex or too simplistic for sales reps to use?
Too many steps can confuse the sales rep (and buyer). Too few steps can underserve the needs of the customer journey. Do you have a sufficient prospecting step or is it underdeveloped? How about your trust-building step? What is the effectiveness of your qualifying process? Do your sales reps have a process for presenting your solution through the lens of the buyers perception of value.. or is it a canned presentation?
Bottom line, your method to making sales should be easy to understand from the initial training, adequately meet the needs of the buying process and easy to implement after a period of reinforcement. In addition, it must also be robust enough to handle the more complex sales opportunities – purchase committees, team selling, etc.
6. Do sales managers embrace it as the best way to coach their sales reps?
Without the buy-in from senior management, most sales processes will fail to become imbed into your sales culture. Sales managers are the key to the adoption process through consistent reinforcement – in sales meetings, one-on-one sessions and field coaching. Your sales managers should view it as the best platform for evaluating and course correcting sales behaviors. If not, you need to know why.
7. Is it adaptable into your CRM system?
Many CRM systems come preloaded with a sales process, qualifiers, pipeline management, etc. The labels, definitions and steps may not align with yours. Be sure your sales process can get assimilated into your CRM. Otherwise, the sales team get mixed messages when updating account records.
All sales processes are not the same, not should they – even in the same company. The one used in a call center base on one-call closings should look very different than one designed to sell big-ticket items. Be sure to keep yours updated regularly to handle a changing marketplace.