According to research by CSO Insights, companies with a sales process and the technology to support it are more likely to hit quota.  At the same time, research by Objective Management Group concludes that 91% of companies do not have a sales process.

CSO’s research seems reason enough to decide it’s high-time to implement a formal sales process at your company. Deciding to implement a sales process is one thing; Knowing where to start is a whole different ball-game. For starters, I’d read Dave Kurlan’s Baseline Selling. Kurlan is the CEO of Objective Management Group and no one knows the subject better.

Let’s start with how he defines a sales process. A sales process consists of the steps that must be taken to move the prospect through the sales cycle. Kurlan uses a baseball analogy to describe the concept. First base is the first appointment. Second base is when that opportunity becomes a prospect. Third base is when the opportunity is totally qualified. Home base is when the deal closes.

Jim Ninivaggi, Service Director of Sales Enablement Strategies at SiriusDecisions uses a football analogy. With this, he explains the differences between a sales process, and sales methodologies and models. The sales process consists of the football field. Yard markers indicate a team’s exact location on the 100-yard-long playing field. Identify the “markers” that tell you where you are in the process of making a sale and you have a sales process (my words not his).

While there is some flexibility about how you work your way down the field (a sales methodology), the sales process is a fixed reality. You are either at the 100-yard line in the sales cycle or you are somewhere else. You can’t (or shouldn’t) decide what your next play should be if you don’t know where you are on the field (or in the sales process).

Like the bases on a baseball field and the yard markers on the football field, steps in the sales process are non-negotiable. There are no short-cuts. As such, Kurlan offers top 10 rules for all things sales process related:

  1. this isn’t voluntary
  2. no exceptions
  3. live it and breath it
  4. hold salespeople accountable to it
  5. coach to it daily
  6. reinforce it
  7. point out what happens when they skip steps
  8. show them what happens when they execute
  9. non compliance has consequences
  10. practice daily

Once you have a sales process, how do you live it, reinforce it, and hold people accountable per Kurlan’s list above?

One thing is for certain, you have to give salespeople the tools they need for the process to be followed. And managers need a way to know whether and to what extent the process is being followed.

One tool that provides both is Front Row Solutions. A sales process is a fundamental part of their system in that it’s designed to help salespeople know what’s expected and when.

Let me give you an example. Imagine if you had the answers to these questions from every sales rep after every sales call.

  • Who was contacted (company, person name,  title)
  • How were they contacted  (face to face, phone , email etc.)
  • What was the purpose of the sales call
  • What needs does the customer have
  • What were the product/s discussed
  • What was the result of the sales call
  • What issues does the customer have
  • If and when is your next appointment
  • What is the amount of the sale or the forecasted sale

These questions are typical questions that sales managers (and sales people) will want to know the answers to. Whether it’s these exact questions or others that are important to you, you’ll enter them into the Front Row App. When a sales rep finishes the sales call she selects the Front Row app on her mobile device and these questions will appear one at a time and require an answer, usually in a multiple choice format. In most cases this takes the sales rep less than 60 seconds to complete.

When the sales rep finishes, the app adds the date and time and sends the data to the cloud where it populates and updates, dashboards, data bases and analytics critical to your business success. This takes less than 5 seconds which means you get real time insight into all sales rep and customer activity.

The sales process integrated into the App insures that the sales reps are covering all the key areas you want covered in every sales call.  Imagine your sales reps are reporting backorders, or product quality or technical support as a customer concern as “issues”. You would want to take steps to correct those issues.

If you saw that one sales rep seldom booked a follow up appointment while other sales reps frequently booked follow up appointments, you would know to work with that sales rep and teach him the value of booking follow up appointments.

If you saw that a sales rep was continuously working the wrong products you’d want to know why, maybe it’s a training issue or even a compensation issue.  And if your sales reps were reporting on a feature customers wanted that you didn’t yet have, you would want to know and you use that information in your next product development meeting.

These are just a few examples of what having a sales process—and having visibility into the execution of the process—can do for you.

According to CSO Insights research, “Having a process defined makes no difference. Having a process defined, integrating it into your day-to-day selling activities, supporting it with appropriate technology and evolving it through lessons learned makes a big difference.” They’ve found that firms with both sales process and supporting technology in place for more than six months averaged nearly twenty percent better performance in quota attainment.

No matter what your sales process is, the key is to make sure that it is clearly defined and followed with consistency. And of equal importance is to put the right technology in place that allows you to implement it, monitor and measure its use, and provide actionable insights.

To learn more about Front Row Solutions, take the free short-course on Sales Call Reporting at Sales Productivity University.

Nancy Nardin is the foremost expert increasing sales productivity through the use of tools. As President of Smart Selling Tools, she consults with many of the top sales productivity software vendors as well as end-user organizations looking to select the right tools. Click to get Nancy’s What & When weekly digest with invitations to complimentary webinars and informative publications. Follow Nancy on Twitter @sellingtools or subscribe to her Sales Productivity blog. Nancy can be reached at 916-596-3035. To schedule a free 30 minute consultation click here.