Have you critiqued your sales process lately? Is it helping or hindering your team?
According to Craig Rosenberg, co-founder and chief analyst at TOPO, “of best-in-class sales organizations, two-thirds had well-defined sales processes.”
Before you dismiss that as a Captain Obvious conclusion, check this out.
A study that Vantage Point Performance and the Sales Management Association conducted showed that 44% of executives think their organization is ineffective at managing their sales pipeline.
That Harvard Business Review piece goes on to explain, “at its most basic level, the sales pipeline is merely a representation of a company’s sales process. We discovered that sales forces were most effective at managing their sales pipelines if they had invested time in defining a credible, formalized sales process. In fact, there was an 18% difference in revenue growth between companies that defined a formal sales process and companies that didn’t.”
Consider that almost half the organizations surveyed in that study were not doing the sales process well. Given that reality, the latest TOPO report’s emphasis on the sales process can’t be understated.
If your sales process isn’t delivering the results you desire, TOPO’s Sales Process Design contains several best practices for establishing a better one. For today, we’ll focus on one.
Three Keys to a Barebones Sales Process
Many organizations mistake having a sales process with simply using Salesforce. Don’t be one of them.
Though Salesforce (or the CRM of your choice) is an essential tool for managing prospect data and communications, having a sales process involves so much more.
HubSpot defines a sales process as “a repeatable set of steps a sales team takes to move a prospect from an early stage lead to a closed customer. A strong sales process helps reps consistently close deals by giving them a framework to follow.”
And we’ve also said that consistency is key: “By forming a consistent process, or cadence of actions, across the team, you provide a blueprint for your sales organization that removes all the guesswork.”
According to TOPO, you must provide sellers with three things in your sales process:
“Clearly stated seller objectives, process steps, and exit criteria take individual opinions off the table, enabling managers and reps to communicate effectively on the best course of action.” – Craig Rosenberg, co-founder and chief analyst at TOPO
Let’s dig into these fundamentals:
- Clearly stated seller objectives – Beyond simply progressing the prospect to the next step, what are the seller’s goals for each stage of the buying cycle?
- Process steps – What concrete steps does the seller need to take to progress candidates from one stage to the next?
- Exit criteria – How will the seller know it’s time to progress the buyer to the next stage?
Without defining these pieces, your sellers are forced to figure them out alone. And they’ll likely reinvent the wheel each time they engage with a new prospect.
If you already have these items clearly defined in your process? Our hats off to you. But remember, these are fundamentals, so don’t stop there.
Scaffolding to Support Your Sales Process
Designing a strong sales process is half the battle. Having the right tools to enable reps and support your process is the other half.
Here again, using a CRM is not enough. While it is your system of record, helping you manage buyer data and marketing activities, a CRM lacks the end-to-end guidance reps need to help navigate a sale from start to finish. What you need to support sellers is a system of execution.
In practical terms, how do your reps run their day? What technology tools support their sales activities and guide their next steps? And how do you enable sellers to communicate in a personalized way at scale?
What we’ve found? Most sales or CRM technology today focus on smaller segments of the sale, rather than the entire process. And having disjointed technologies makes it hard for sellers to manage a deal from start to finish.
Along those lines, here’s what we’ve heard from sales leaders: “With the number of tools, touchpoints, and technology increasing daily, it’s hard to prevent your sales process from growing more complex right along with them.”
But the right sales engagement platform–your system of execution–helps you dial in and monitor your sales process from the first touch to close, all in one place. Sales engagement platforms help you predefine sales cadences and templatize messages, providing your reps with an engagement architecture that saves time and maximizes effectiveness.
Inspiration for Your Sales Process
If you’re ready to move beyond a barebones architecture, TOPO’s Sales Process Design is the resource for you.
It offers a sales process design tool to help you create and adopt TOPO’s proven sales methodology. It also summarizes the commonalities of winning sales processes for small, mid-market, and enterprise buying cycles.
To grab this template, and key sales process practices, download the TOPO Sales Process Design report today.