Thinking about sales process design and how to introduce continuous sales improvement efforts to your B2B sales team?
There are three key challenges in a sales team that cloud any sales improvement efforts.
These are challenges for all sales leaders, challenges that beg the questions
Are you managing the sales team based on what :
… is actually happening?
…you’d like to be happening?
…you think is happening?
These three challenges are the reason why often sales improvement plans don’t get the traction they need to succeed, and sales performance continues to muddle along…
There is an easy fix.
Look at your sales process design and how you’re using that sales process model in your team to help them hit sales goals and sales quotas, and quickly fix and sales leaks.
And ask yourself…have you got sales people who are capable of managing their own performance, being accountable for it, and using it to be successful in sales?
Sales process design is at the heart of any sales improvement plan…
Sales process design is critical for the day to day management of the sales team.
And, the truth is, you may well have the very best sales process in the whole world, nailed on to deliver what you need, the quantity and quality of high converting lead generation and sales opportunists when you need them but…
In the day-to-day hunt for sales it’s easy to forget that:
A sales process is only as effective as the management of that sales process, and the effective management of the sales process starts with the sales metrics you attach to that sales process…the sales metrics you select to measure, manage and monitor
Does this means that sales leaders should adopt a ‘management by numbers’ style?
That doesn’t work in a professional sales environment. You need ‘pull’ sales metric management, not ‘push’ sales metric management.
Your Sales Metrics Matter!
Pretty quickly, anyone in sales management works out that sales results don’t get changed, or stay changed by using ‘management by numbers’ leadership style…
Managing behaviours within the sales teams is the key driver, sitting at the heart of long term sales improvement and sustained sales growth; and the knowing your numbers – your critical numbers – is key to that.
The numbers – key sales metrics – tell you a lot about what your sales team are doing in relation to the sales results they’re generating…what those numbers won’t tell you in why you sales team is doing what they’re doing.
That’s the first thing to consider when you’ll looking at designing a sales process that works.
Remember, your sales team will do what works for them, what they’re comfortable with.
That’s not always the same as what’s good and what works you. It’s rarely the same as the business needs them to do either.
That’s why you need to know your ideal metrics versus the actual metrics.
The gap in those numbers show you, as their manager, exactly where you need to spend your time.
Knowing your numbers helps you tackle any non-conformance or poor performance immediately and deal with as needed.
So, first things first – know your numbers – if you need help you can download this free guide – Sales Metrics – The 7 Sales Metrics You Need To Measure, Manage and Monitor
Your CRM Shouldn’t Be Your Default Sales Process
You’ll find that many sales teams let the sales CRM dictate the sales process design.
By default rather than by design.
It doesn’t work
Your sales process is wildly different from the guy in the next business, from the guy in the next business to that.
Your sales CRM is a framework – you have to apply your knowledge to make your sales CRM work for you, and by marrying a good sales CRM to a great sales process with super sales metrics means you can only win!
But here’s where it falls down, if you don’t get your sales CRM and your sales process aligned…think about this:
Sammy will have a different set of criteria for someone at stage 2 than Jo will.
Jo’s stage 2 looks more like Kev’s stage 4.
Now you need to try making sense of a sales pipeline based on knowing the above.
You can’t do it with any accuracy.
And worse – your sales forecast will be a work of semi-fiction.
And it won’t be the sales team’s fault.
You can find out more about avoiding The Melting Sales Forecast Syndrome here.
So, what do you do?
Map the sales process.
Map it with the team so they understand what a prospect at each stage has in terms of buyer characteristics – a simple set of go/no-go criteria for each stage will sort this out.
So, the sales pipeline will be uniform.
Your sales forecast will be accurate.
Your sales numbers at each stage meaningful.
It’s a much easier way to manage a sales team when everyone is speaking the same language.
Sales process design is a choice, not a CRM default. Design the sales process as the ‘one-truth’ within your sales function.
Plus – if the sales team performance starts to drift – bringing it back on track is a walk in the park if you’re working on a standardised sales process, with a common language and targets that all generate from a single and universally understood sales process.
The gaps are immediately visible.
Constantly Review the Sales Process
Once mapped, review the sales process.
It it granular enough (in the first instance it won’t be, but that’s ok)
What do you need to do more of?
Are the numbers you planned happening?
How often are you getting the conversion rate you expected at each stage?
Knowing the numbers for the first few weeks will give you a real insight to where you’re sales team are missing opportunities.
Get around the table and share the information with the sales team, put the gap challenge back into the sales team.
Help them understand the gap, what it means and the down-line implications.
Ask them for their solutions.
Ask them what the need to bring the numbers back to where they need to be.
What help they need, what hurdles they need to have removed, what ammunition they need to repair the gap.
It’s called continuous sales improvement for a reason and no sales leader can do it alone.
It’s a sales team activity.
It will bring together the whole team, seeking the common goal.
As part of this – it’s great to foster a culture that keeps asking questions of the original sales process design, questions like:
Could you stop doing some of the things that don’t impact positively on close rates?
What do you need to stop doing?
What adds no value to your prospect?
Are there any bottle necks?
Where can you add more value?
Where / what stages are you getting the highest / lowest conversion rates and why?
If you need more information on this check out Simple Sales Forecasting
Coach to Your Sales Process Design and Sales Metrics
We talked earlier about the importance of sales metrics.
In the early stages map those sales metrics on to every single decision point in the sales process.
You can always ignore these later but unless you’ve mapped all sales metrics on to the sales process you’ll never get a clear picture.
This may take some time but it will tell you such a sales story, with such sales insight and depth that you’ll see exactly how and why it’s easier to improve sales than you ever imagined.
Look at where your sales conversion rates (at each key point in the sales process) are lower than you’d like.
Voila! You’ve identified a short list of key areas of improvement.
Coach in those very specific areas.
Set short term key team targets around improving those specific sales figures.
You’ve now got clear sight of what your sales recipe is, so continuous sales improvement is just about focus, intent and changing behaviours via coaching, training, motivation and team collectiveness.
Plus, you’ll be able to fully understand the key performers in your team and what they’re doing that lesser performers aren’t. It’s a great way to kick of your performance management initiative.
Summary: Sales Process Design
Whether you’re at the sales process design stage or you already have a sales process in place…
Sales Process design is a critical task, not a CRM default.
It’s a fundamental step in looking at what is actually happening in your sales function versus what you think is happening in your sales function versus what you want to be happening.
To find out more about the work we do with sales led organisations who are looking for scale-able growth, to introduce continuous sales improvement or who simply understand what their sales process is and what the sales metrics are versus what they should be you can check out our information on Sales Audits and Continuous Sales Improvement here.
Sales process design is an ongoing task. No sales process is a fixed entity. It evolves, grows, tests scenarios, might vary depending on your niches, markets, products, services.
But most importantly, it’s your benchmark, your control panel.
Either way, sales process design is a critical factor in sales success.
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