Using Sales Process Excellence as a Strategic Advantage
The selling landscape has changed.
In today’s digital marketplace, buyers have an abundance of information at their fingertips, more distractions, and numerous reasonable options across just about every vertical.
And sales teams know this. They’ve seen these changes impact their quotas first-hand. What they don’t always know is how to compensate with updated tactics.
Tracking arbitrary sales activity metrics every month doesn’t mean much without regular review and tie-back to the bigger picture.
Sales process excellence will solidify your strategic advantage and ensure sales activities are productive.
Why Developing a Sales Process is Important
Buyers today are savvy — even in the world of B2B, where millennials make up a growing proportion of relevant stakeholders. They expect a certain level of service and personalization that can’t be achieved by haphazardly throwing pitches at the wall to see what sticks.
A sales process provides already busy sales teams with the ability to organize their efforts in a more meaningful way. It lays out a framework for progressing their contacts from prospect to a closed deal.
Having a sales process gives direction, allowing teams to more efficiently pinpoint what is and isn’t working along the way. In theory, this makes it easier to test, apply learnings, and yield team-wide results faster than if everyone were operating under their own decided methodologies.
Best Practices for Developing a Modern-Day Sales Process
Adopting a sales process is all fine and good if you already have one in place. But if you’re working to organize a team that has, up to this point, operated independently, knowing where to begin can be half the battle.
There’s no reason to beat around the bush: developing an effective process is hard. The key is not to use time as an excuse.
The time you spend developing a sales process is an investment. The time you spend continuing to operate disjointedly (without the deals to show for it) is a waste.
To lessen the blow of having to start from scratch, here are some best practices to guide you in developing a modern-day sales process.
Build Around Your Sales Stages
In creating the framework for your sales process, start with the framework that encompasses your sales stages.
You already have the building blocks in front of you — now they need some glue to connect them.
Common sales stages are likely to include prospecting, discovery, demonstration, proposal, closing, and onboarding. How they’re broken down and labeled may vary from company to company, but for the most part, the flow remains constant.
Relative to your decided sales stages, consider the activities involved for each.
Says Sean Piket, VP of Revenue at Cirrus Insight,
“Ask yourself: What are the trigger points that move a buyer from one stage to the next? Are there tactics adopted by your top sellers worth incorporating into the process for your team as a whole?”.
Make Sure You’re Catering to the Right Audiences (and Stakeholder Personas)
The mindset of your sales team shouldn’t revolve around getting in front of everyone and anyone willing to buy. For starters, it won’t work — especially as far as enterprise sales are concerned. These buyers are looking for a solution designed to solve their problems alone.
Second, it’s bad sales ethics to sell to someone knowing they’ll have no use for the product.
Selling to the right audiences is both good for your business and theirs. It sets the stage for repeat business and a higher chance of referrals.
Develop a Sales Playbook Worth Following
Documentation for the sake of documentation is a waste. If no one is using your sales training materials or finding value from the material, what’s the point?
A sales playbook should align your team around a process that helps them work toward and achieve a common goal.
Consider the pros and cons associated with following a sales playbook before putting pen to paper. Gather feedback from your sales team on its effectiveness and tweak as needed, knowing that misalignment in methodologies could also indicate the wrong fit in personnel.
Invest in the Right Set of Tools and Technology to Add Structure
At every stage of your sales process, you should factor in sales enablement. Management shouldn’t simply be setting goals without providing the support needed to reach them.
Support, in this case, refers to tools and technology. It may take the shape of ongoing professional development and training — or regular one-on-ones that offer necessary guidance for overcoming hurdles.
Alternatively, investing in the right technology can greatly impact your team’s ability to work more efficiently. Consider a tool like Cirrus Insight, for example. This tool enables reps to increase productivity with features like enterprise scheduling, email tracking, seamless Salesforce integration, and more.
Train with Consistency and a Post-Sales Process in Mind
Developing a modern-day sales process that sticks is all about training.
Consistency should be a key point of focus when coaching current or new sales reps joining the team. If they’re not following the framework provided, it’s harder to gauge the value in it.
Additionally, there should be some weight given to the post-sales process. Relationships are more important than ever in modern-day sales. Analyze and create opportunities for improvement in terms of how reps work alongside account teams, for the sake of creating a better onboarding and long-term customer experience.
Analyze and Iterate
A sales process should be flexible and ever-evolving. The goal isn’t to simply swap out one bad system for another. If something isn’t working, you have a foundation to work from in changing it.
Make it a point to constantly review sales rep metrics for the sake of making meaningful changes. Just be mindful of the data you’re using to gauge success so that you don’t get stuck in the trap of tracking numbers just to track them. Take action on the insights!
Final Thoughts: Using Sales Process Excellence as a Strategic Advantage
A sales process is only as good as its ability to benefit the team. Take into account what your team has done, will do, and wants to do — for the sake of supporting both your reps and the bottom line.
How should teams approach building a sales process catered to their specific needs? Share your thoughts with us by tweeting at @SellingTools.
Maddy Osman’s previous life involved two sales gigs — now she’s Cirrus Insight’s Content Manager. Her background in WordPress web design contributes to a well-rounded understanding of SEO and how to connect brands to relevant search prospects. Learn more about her process and experience on her website, www.The-Blogsmith.com and read her latest articles on Twitter: @MaddyOsman.