With over one trillion dollars spent annually on sales teams, maximising sales productivity is a critical goal for every enterprise. Of the classic pillars of sales success - people, processes and technology – the importance of building efficient, scalable sales processes is only recently receiving its due emphasis.
A 2013 Sales Management Association study shows that firms using sales processes to guide sales activity report 30% greater profit than those that do not. Processes enable consistency, imposing a kind of discipline and standardising best practices across the organisation and guiding sales reps through the most effective actions that make the most of their sales pipeline.
Yet processes are only successful if they meet the competitive challenges at hand. Companies need the agility to constantly test different approaches and processes to see what works – and modify it, then keep moving. The right balance of process consistency and agility can deliver impressive revenue gains.
Here are three ways that any organisation can drive a smarter sales process.
1. Re-define the sales process as it should be, today
Most companies today have a sales process in place, but whether it’s in use consistently may be another matter. Fewer companies monitor and measure the success of the sales process regularly.
Re-defining what sales process really means for the organization, today, helps companies make it a valid internal sales blueprint. It helps to assure the process is driven by a set of well-thought out actions, from lead qualification to deal closure, which are fully integrated into company's ecosystem and shape sales behavior.
When implemented so that it addresses the unique organisational and market environment, the sales process is more likely to be accepted by sales reps and managers alike as the tool that helps improving their productivity and performance. It then can become more than just following steps and sequences – and part of a larger transformation to a customer-centric sales mode.
Cumbersome, manual processes can lead sales reps to neglect key steps, resulting in fewer sales and decreased customer loyalty. After the sales process is properly defined and all stages are fully understood, it is important to automate time-consuming tasks to free reps to focus on more lucrative activities like generating quotes and meeting with prospects.
At the same time, it is critical to select an automation tool that will not lock down the processes forever without an opportunity to fine-tune or change them when necessary.
3. Use your data to refine
Because markets are constantly changing, sales processes need a feedback loop so teams can track the performance and assess sales process effectiveness. Successful sales organisations constantly test different approaches to see what works best. They use the data tracked by their CRM and automation systems to continually adjust and refine the process. For example, they could examine average sales cycle length, the bottlenecks on each stage of the sales pipeline, or other key dimensions that monitor sales process efficiency. The goal is to enhance the sales process by exposing inefficiencies that delay revenues.
Sales reps are the new rock stars of the organisation – in whose hands lies the ability to deliver on revenue and profit objectives. As new and more efficient business models emerge for enterprises, sales executives must make sure that the processes behind their sale reps are suited to the all-important task.