3 Fundamental Steps for Making The Number in Complex Sales

Soccer Playbooks

The one thing that has always been a major concern for B2B sales organizations, if not the major concern, is making the number.

Of particular concern to the CEO’s and sales leaders I speak to is the inconsistent and unpredictable performance of their sales teams. They don’t trust forecasts. And they feel a bit like they’re on a roller coaster, which would be fun if their revenue projections weren’t on board for the ride.

Everyone asks the same question, “What can we do to make sure we consistently reach our targets over time?” Research shows the answer lies in having a structure – a system that makes sure nothing falls between the cracks. One thing is certain, if you want predictable performance, you can’t wing it. It’s too expensive and doesn’t scale.

Here are 3 research-backed steps you can take toward achieving consistent sales results in complex sales.

Step 1: Implement a sales process

According to statistics from Objective Management Group, less than 10% of companies have a formal, structured sales process in place. Odds are that you are one of the 90% without. That’s  problematic because CSO Insights research shows you’ll have a 48% higher win rate than your competitors if your salespeople follow a sales process. But what exactly is a formal sales process?

National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP) offers the following definition:
“In simple terms, a sales process is a systematic approach involving a series of steps that enables a sales force to close more deals, increase margins and make more sales through referrals”. Put differently: it provides your sales people with a map and a GPS for winning each deal.

A sales process consistently guides salespeople toward the right activity throughout each and every opportunity. However, a sales process is not the same as a sales playbook.

Step 2: Up the ante with playbooks

Playbooks have gained traction as an effective way of improving sales enablement. What is a sales playbook? Sales Benchmark Index has a succinct definition, namely:

“…the marrying of your sales process with content and tools”.

By adding relevant additional content and information at every step of the formal sales process, sales people are provided with everything they need to move deals forward and execute with precision.

In sports, playbooks and plays are long established concepts. Depending on a number of in-game parameters and circumstances, coaches select the play that is believed to have the highest chance of producing a desired outcome.

Why should it be different in sales?

You can’t expect salespeople to execute your sales process in the field if they aren’t provided with the right content in the right context (playbooks).

Here’s an example of how a sales process without a specific playbook falls short. Let’s say you have “Needs Analysis” as the third check box in the first phase? What does “Needs Analysis” tell your sales team? It doesn’t explain why this step is important, when it needs to be completed, how it should be conducted, who they need to involve or what a successful outcome looks like. Those are pretty important pieces of information.

Playbooks provide this critical information. They also provide relevant content (for example, white papers or case studies) and tools (such as email templates, important questions or other software tools). Simply put, playbooks give sales people everything they need to follow your best practice sales process at every step of every opportunity.

Step 3: Take your playbooks further – design plays for any type of deal scenario.

While playbooks provide a great system, there are inherent limitations to what they can help your team achieve. For instance, no two opportunities are the same; in certain situations, you need to divert from the standard process/playbook and design deal-level strategies in order to move an opportunity forward.

If a salesperson is facing a particular competitor, you may have very specific advice for how they should communicate the value your solutions will add. Detailed instructions on how this should be executed would not be captured in the standard sales process and playbooks since that competitor isn’t in every opportunity. Subsequently, it’s a good idea to design a specific play by adding or removing steps from the sales process and by providing the content, advice and tools your sales people need to execute for this type of situation .

By adding situational plays to your playbooks, each sales person will know what to do, when, how, and with whom, to move the deal forward – regardless of the opportunity circumstances.

Playbooks allow sports teams to execute their game plan. A solid sales process along with situational plays enable your people to consistently execute and reach quota. By following the 3 steps outlined in this article, you will lay the foundation for a strong 2016 – and beyond.

Today’s post is a Guest Post by George Brontén, the CEO of Membrain.

Additional resources:

To learn more about the importance of sales process Download our whitepaper “7 reasons to map out your sales process”

If you want to implement a process but are unsure where to begin Use this best practice template to quickly map out the stages, steps and finer details of your sales process

To view a full demo of Membrain, from the Smart Selling Tools’ Demo-Day click here