CREATING, TESTING AND OPTIMIZING YOUR SALES PROCESS
Virtually every company has a sales process! If a firm doesn’t develop its own selling process, it must rely on the multiple sales methodologies its new hires bring to the firm.
We’ve found that many salespeople simply fail when using selling processes they used in prior jobs. The result is often long sales cycles, unnecessary sales steps and low closing rates. Why? It may be that their old selling process isn’t well suited to the new industry, products, markets or prospect types. Or it may be that they lack the skills to apply their old sales process to their new environment. In short, companies have no guarantee that a salesperson it hires will bring a good sales process or skill set to their company.
But what happens when new salespeople do have a successful selling process and consistently beat their quotas? We’ve found that employers rarely know exactly how its new sales hires achieve success or the particulars of the sales process they use. And sometimes, highly-competitive salespeople are reluctant to share the methods that are making them successful. After all, the company could use these methods to train its other salespeople and create extra competition for contests, 100% clubs and promotions!
Not having a refined selling process usually results in losing good salespeople as well as sales opportunities. Indeed, developing an optimal selling process makes good revenue and business sense! So, if you don’t have a company-specific sales process, you have several options.
Your Selling Process: Make, Buy or Forget it?
Few firms have a well-documented selling process, complete with defined sales process steps, techniques and sales tools. Options for acquiring a good process include:
- BUY IT! Many sales training programs come pre-packaged with the author’s sales process, which typically is promoted as yielding substantial results. But, due to the generic nature of their pre-defined selling process, actual results may be limited, or worse yet, lead to sales declines. Indeed, differences in markets, competition, products/services, sales talent, compensation and other factors make it nearly impossible for a “canned” sales process to be a firm’s “ideal” sales process. So while a pre-packaged selling process can indeed produce improvements, the results obtained may not be great enough to justify the training effort or expense of taking salespeople out of the field.
- CREATE IT! Developing a company-specific selling process that new and existing salespeople can use to get repeatable results isn’t easy. However, we’ve seen some sales managers create an effective sales process and achieve outstanding results! However, most firms lack both the resources and insight to develop an optimal sales process or identify the best possible sales process steps. At The Sales Alliance, our goal is to boost client profitability by helping them develop a customized, results-driven selling process.
- SKIP IT! Firms that don’t invest the time to develop their selling process become dependent on finding sales “superstars” who already to have a sales process that works in the particular industry and niche. While this strategy can succeed, it is often time consuming and costly as many new sales hires lack the right sales process and fail. The resulting turnover and lost sales is far more costly than developing a selling process and method to teach it.
In short, great companies typically have a formula for their success–and their proprietary sales processes are a core component!
Sales Process Development Program Description
Developing a superior sales process, complete with highly-specific sales process steps, provides the means for sales performance improvement. However, developing a refined sales process is only one of the six key elements of improving sales performance (see our Sales Improvement Model for a list of these six elements).
Common symptoms of an inadequate selling process include:
- Lack of sales prospecting focus or success
- Poor qualification of prospects and/or opportunities
- Wide range of sales performance
- Lack of pre-defined sales process stages
- Uneven close rates
- Long sales cycles
- Challenges getting salespeople to use the CRM system and/or turn in reports
- Long new-hire ramp up times
- Difficulty finding salespeople who succeed at the company
With our Sales Process Engineering & Testing service, we analyze and then upgrade existing sales process steps and identify high-payback sales techniques. Then, we “experiment” with each of these new sales process stages in our client’s unique environment. This “live” testing may include getting on the phone and quantifying the number of times the new techniques were successful or teaming up with one or two experienced salespeople to perform field tests of each sales process step.
These test results are then quantified and compared to clients’ current sales methods. In this manner, we have helped companies develop superior sales process steps, methods and techniques that significantly reduce sales cycle time and improve conversion rates. These enhanced sales process stages and methods can then be used to develop customized sales training programs, strategic sales initiatives, sales team coaching strategies and sales compensation programs.
Benefits of a Superior Sales Process
- Improvement alignment of sales approaches with company goals
- Higher close rates
- Fewer sales steps and shorter sales cycles
- Enhanced team selling process and capabilities
- Higher return on salespeople’s time
- Better measurement of progression through each sales process stage
- Improved forecasting and predictability
- Better success beating competitors
- Shorter ramp up times for new salespeople
- Customized sales training classes based on defined sales process stages
- Management tracking of each sales step
- Reduced salesperson turnover rates
- More effective salesperson training
- Selling process optimization for incorporation into all sales training
Typical Sales Steps in Most Sales Cycles
- Lead generation
- Prospecting and qualification
- Assessing needs
- Cultivating decision maker trust
- Developing solutions
- Handling objections
- Creating urgency
- Closing and gaining commitment
The example above, although generic, contains sales steps and elements common to many sales cycles. However, the key to success is customizing each sales process, incorporating the many unique aspects of each company and industry.
Best Practices-Based Sales Processes
Many firms already have in place portions of their ideal selling process! But the sales team, not the company itself, usually has better knowledge of each sales step and the skills needed to achieve results. Moreover, without guidance, we rarely observe salespeople using all of the applicable sales process steps to shorten the sales cycle. An example of this phenomenon is:
- Salesperson #1: Adept at prospecting, researching and gaining appointments, but ineffective at closing a majority of his or her sales. Has long sales cycles.
- Salesperson #2: Adept at assessing needs and creating relationships, but ineffective at prospecting or closing.
- Salesperson #3: Adept at closing sales, but not skilled at prospecting, needs assessments or other initial sales steps
As illustrated above, while none of the three salespeople excels in all of the sales process stages, each one performs certain parts of the selling process well. Though extensive interviews, observations and testing The Sales Alliance in able to evaluate each salesperson’s use of the ideal sales process steps and cull out the best practices that produce results. And when these proven best practices and techniques are identified, they then become incorporated into an upgraded, optimized sales process.
Sales Process Based Sales Training Classes
Once a company has optimized its selling processes and identified all sales steps in the sales cycle, a customized sales training program can be developed. Ideally, the sales training program would be organized around the firm’s specific sales steps and teach the skills needed to each use each sales step effectively. The Sales Alliance has a unique experience set that allows us to quickly create an optimal sales process and develop customized sales training classes. To see a list of our customized sales training classes, click here.
Indeed, investing the time and effort to develop a superior sales process can have a phenomenal return. Looking for an improved selling process, shorter sales cycles, fewer sales steps or more predictable results? Please contact us for a complimentary consultation.