If you read my last article about setting and measuring KPIs you will know that I believe that good KPIs are the product of a good business plan. KPIs should help to show management if the sales team are on track to fulfill their part of the business bargain and the track is the sales process they are following.
It’s much easier to introduce meaningful KPI’s if there’s a degree of consistency in the way the sales team work with their prospects and clients. Perhaps more importantly, that consistent engagement style will improve the customer experience as well.
While a bad plan may or may not be better than no plan, there is little doubt that a good plan that gets executed is better than a perfect plan that doesn’t. And if you can’t definitively describe your sales process, how can you expect your sales team to follow it? Your sales process needs to be well-defined and repeatable. The introduction and adoption of an effective sales process (or processes) is as much about culture as it is about capturing meaningful moments in the life of a sales opportunity.
So, start with the people. None of us like to have new working practices foisted on to us when we think we’re doing OK already, or perhaps when the unregulated environment in which we work suits us rather well. A sales team that been involved in the development of the sales process will be the team that runs most successfully with the sales process. They will own it and help to ingrain the process into the sales culture. There may even be some behaviors already in place that work well but are undocumented.
A sales process refers to a repeatable set of steps a sales team takes to move a prospect from an early stage lead to a closed customer. In fact, we are increasingly finding that it is a set of steps and stages that integrates the sales and marketing functions, mapping the full customer lifecycle from creating awareness through to the ongoing development and nurture of established customers. At the very least your process should cover the following stages of the customer lifecycle:
- Handling Objections
At Reach Revenue we are often asked if we have experience of implementing sales processes for a particular industry. Our response is always the same. It’s not about being industry specific it’s about being buyer aligned. People buy people before products and that fact should influence the shape of your sales process. If you understand the needs of your buyers you can map a process that reflects the way they like to do business.
I often hear sales leaders or consultants telling their teams to “give the prospect something to do” as a way to gain their commitment. However, I could point to many groups of buyers who find being given something to do as a clear reason to disqualify a potential supplier.
So what are the questions we should be answering when developing a sales process? At our sales process development workshops we seek to answer the following questions:
- What event can we track and record with comparative ease and total reliability?
- Does this event signify a quantifiable move towards a signed order?
- Does this event take place in the majority of sales engagements?
- What percentage of orders at this point in the process are closed?
As a rule of thumb we end up with between 5 and 7 stages.
For more information about our sales process development and deployment methodology call us on 0203 858 8030 email John.firstname.lastname@example.org